North Carolina Fisherman Breaks 61-Year-Old Record, Catches 12lb Trout With Homemade Rod

A North Carolina fisherman broke a 61-year-old state record after catching a 12-pound, 8-ounce speckled trout using a fishing rod that he made himself.

Merritt-resident Todd Spangler caught the giant trout on February 9, 2022, near the mouth of the Neuse River in Pamlico County, located on the state's east coast, Field & Stream reported.

The fish surpassed the previous state record for a speckled trout—a fish weighing 12 pounds, 4 ounces that was caught in 1961 at Wrightsville Beach.

Spangler told Field & Stream that the record-breaking trout was his first catch of the day. The angler was fishing with a friend in a residential harbor at around 8 a.m. when he hooked what he initially thought was a striped bass.

"I said, 'If this is a trout, it's gonna be one of the biggest trout I've ever caught,'" he told Field & Stream. "It came up and swirled once, but it was far enough out that we couldn't see it well. I told my buddy to get the net just in case."

"I kept fighting it, and when I saw it flash right below us I said, 'Man, that's a big striper right there.' Then it came up to the surface, and I saw that it was a trout, I went all to pieces. I said, 'Oh, my lord. Get the net! Get the net!'"

The two anglers hauled the fish up onto their boat and decided to weigh the fish out of curiosity. A cheap, portable scale, that the men had with them gave a reading of 12.52 pounds.

His friend then looked up the North Carolina state record for a speckled trout, discovering that if their scale was correct, the fish would be a record-breaker.

Spangler had doubts that the cheap scale was accurate, so the pair headed to Neuse River Bait and Tackle in Grantsboro, where a certified scale also gave a reading of 12.52 pounds.

A state biologist arrived at the store a couple of hours later, confirming that the fish was a new state record. The "true giant" measured 33.5 inches in length and had a girth of 18 inches, Neuse River Bait & Tackle said in a Facebook post.

"A true fish-of-a-lifetime! Beating out a 60-year-old record of 12 pounds, 4 ounces. Congrats Todd!" the post said.

Log into Facebook to start sharing and connecting with your friends, family, and people you know.

Speckled trout—otherwise known as spotted seatrout, speck or southern spotted weakfish—are found in rivers, estuaries and shallow coastal waters across a range that extends from New York State to the northern part of Mexico, although the fish is rare north of Virginia, according to the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries.

On average, these fish measure 15 to 25 inches in length and weigh 2 to 4 pounds, although they can grow as large as 40 inches in length and around 12 pounds in weight.

Spangler told Field & Stream that he couldn't believe he had caught a state record speckled trout.

"I had to walk away from everybody and collect myself, because I was like, 'Oh my lord, I can't believe this is happening to me,'" he said.

The angler said he had started building his own fishing rods around 10 years ago using custom parts.

"It makes it a little more special that I caught the record fish on something that I built myself," Spangler said. "It's gratifying. I just finished it, took it out there, and this is what happens. To know that it just caught a state record just blows my mind."

"I hope the record lasts another 60 years. But I'm gonna go out there and try to break it myself tomorrow."

Correction 02/16/22, 11:27 a.m. ET: This article was updated to remove an image of a brook trout.

A fisherman
Stock image showing a fisherman. A North Carolina fisherman broke a 61-year-old state record after catching a 12-pound, 8-ounce speckled trout using a fishing rod that he made himself.