SURRY COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — When Jacob Moore went out fishing on the James River, he was expecting to catch largemouth bass. What he wasn’t expecting, was to reel in a rare golden one.

Moore said he was on the James River near Chippokes State Park practicing for a tournament when he hooked the unique bass. Due to the area’s close proximity to the Chesapeake Bay, Moore told the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) that, at first, he thought he had a saltwater fish on his line.

“When I hooked into that one, I thought I had a saltwater fish on at first, but lo and behold, it was a largemouth! A very different largemouth, though. I haven’t seen anything like that before. I’ve seen bass with black spots, but I’d never seen an albino one,” Moore told the DWR.

A Virginia fisherman reeled in quite the surprise from the James River, a golden largemouth bass (Photo: Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources)

Moore measured the fish to be 16 1/2 inches — with the requirement for keeping largemouth bass to be 22 inches and 8 pounds, all that Moore had left to do was take a few photos of his unique catch before returning it to the river.

“Golden largemouth bass are extremely rare and most anglers have never seen them, let alone heard of them before,” said Alex McCrickard, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Aquatic Education Coordinator. “The fish is a product of a genetic mutation that alters the skin pigments called xanthism. Yellow pigmentation dominates in xanthism, as you can see in Moore’s golden largemouth.”