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ST. LOUIS – It’s not what Leonard Parrott III and Richard Stone expected to find.  The two friends from Pacific were fishing at Jefferson Lake in Forest Park on Monday when they caught a 26-inch-long rainbow trout.  They put the fish on ice and are waiting to have an official weight taken.

“It’s a catch of a lifetime,” said Richard Stone.  He was holding the line when the trout bit his hook.  He needed some help from his friend.

“It was only his second-time trout fishing, so I was like trying to coach him through it,” said Parrott.

The Missouri Department of Conservation tells Fox 2 it might be rare, but you should not be surprised to see a large rainbow trout in an urban park right now.  The agency stocks urban parks with winter trout as part of the Urban Fishing program, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019.

A small number of lunkers are also placed in lakes.  Lunkers can grow to be more than 10 pounds.  It’s likely that’s what Stone and Parrott caught.

The program was started 50 years ago by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.   The program aimed to reduce racial tensions by bringing people together.  Parrott and Stone just hope the attention over their catch will inspire others to enjoy an activity they say brings them joy.

“It’s good for the soul,” said Parrott.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Stone.   “It still hasn’t set in all the way.”

See all the lakes where winter trout are stocked in Missouri here.