The truth is that the fish is indeed real - but, no, it will not be a state record because it was not caught in the wild.
Biologists with both the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Lab have confirmed that the fish is from brood stock used to spawn specks at the GCRL's Cedar Point rearing ponds in Ocean Springs.
"It is not a state record fish," said Jim Franks of the GCRL on Friday (July 13). "It is brood stock."
Michael Buchanan, the finfish program coordinator at DMR, expected as much on Thursday when the news was spreading across the Internet like wildfire.
"I have heard about the fish, but I have not seen it and I suspect that what we're talking about is a brood fish from the GCRL's Cedar Point facility," Buchanan said. "If that is the case, then it would never be considered for a record."
The Mississippi record remains 10 pounds, 7.66 ounces, and was caught by Eric Quave of Biloxi on May 13, 2008, at the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor. Prior to Quave's catch, the previous record of 10 pounds, 6 ounces set by Frances Creel of Biloxi in 1973 had stood for 35 years.
Internet rumor boards had this week's supposed catch as coming from near the Chevron plant on the Pascagoula River, which was supported by reports of big trout being caught there this year.
No one could confirm the date the photograph was taken, but it is apparent from the background in the photo that it was shot inside a lab-like facility.
It was a clue that pointed toward the GCRL, which has spawned over 300,000 speckled trout that were released in the wild through a successful program and at helping rebuild Gulf speck populations.
The exact weight of the fish was not confirmed, but it is indeed a monster trout.
"If I ever caught one that big, rest assured, the whole world would know about it and you wouldn't have to be investigating to find out," said avid speck fisherman D.K. Partridge of Terry. "I suspect anybody who caught a speck that big would want everyone to know about it."