The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has announced that Leah Johnson's 20-pound and 3-ounce rainbow trout has been certified as the new North Carolina State Freshwater Fishing Record.

Johnson, of Sapphire, landed the huge trout on January 28 from the Horsepasture River in Jackson County.

on Jan. 28. Johnson caught her record-breaking rainbow, which measured 34½ inches in length and 23½ inches in girth, using a Rapala lure on a Shakespeare Microspin rod with a Wally Marshall reel.

The fish was weighed on certified scales at Ingles in Brevard and verified by Powell Wheeler, a fisheries biologist with the Commission.

The previous North Carolina state record rainbow trout, caught by Terry Gregory of Franklin on Dec. 20, 1989, weighed 16 pounds, 5 ounces.

According to International Game Fish Association records, the largest rainbow trout on record weighed 42 pounds, 2 ounces and was caught from Bell Island in Alaska in 1970.

To qualify for a North Carolina freshater state record, anglers must have caught their fish on a hook and line, must have their fish weighed on a certified scale witnessed by one observer, have the fish positively identified by a qualified expert from the Commission and submit an application with a full, side-view photo of the fish.