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Angler Breaks 61-Year-Old State Seatrout Record on Homemade Rod

north carolina state trout recordTodd Spangler with his North Carolina record 12.5-lb. spotted seatrout; (photo/Spangler)
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A North Carolina man reeled in a big fish and a 61-year-old state record on February 9.

Todd Spangler broke into the record books around 8 a.m. at the mouth of the Neuse River, just inside the Outer Banks. The veteran inshore saltwater angler’s 12-pound 8-ounce spotted seatrout outweighed the previous state record by a quarter pound.

The specimen was 33.5 inches long and 18 inches in girth. Spangler hooked it with a combo of a Z-Man Scented Jerk ShadZ and HeadlockZ HD jighead.

His line was barely wet by the time the fish hit the bait. He described the ensuing fight in vivid language.

“It was our first bite of the day,” Spangler said in a news release from Z-Man, including his friend Josh Hamby in the story. “I’d been retrieving the bait by popping it up and letting it fall back to the bottom — trying to imitate a shrimp — when I felt a sharp little thump, almost right below the boat. My initial thought was that it struck like a smaller trout, but when I felt the big head shakes and screaming drag, my buddy and I thought we’d hooked a sizeable striped bass.”

Spangler Lands a Lunker, Tells the Tale

Spangler said the fish fought with “a force and ferocity he’d never experienced in a seatrout.” Anglers know the popular inshore saltwater fish for its big canine teeth, high-contrast black spots, and long dorsal fin.

North Carolina law dictates that a spotted trout has to be at least 14 inches long to keep. When Spangler realized that he had such a big one on his line, he knew it was a rare specimen.

“It was really bulldogging, doing big powerful head shakes. But, other than one big surface boil, mostly it stayed down and never gave us a good look. Just kept pulling the whole time — maybe 5 or 6 minutes — before I saw what it was. When I finally realized it was a monster trout, I got pretty excited and ordered Josh to grab the net. Man, I was so pumped — and that was before we even had a clue the fish was a potential record breaker. I’d never seen a trout like that before. Just an absolute giant.”

Hamby and Spangler landed the fish and weighed it with an old digital scale they had onboard. Realizing they had a shot at breaking the state record, they packed up the fish and hurried back to a local bait shop with a certified scale.

State officials eventually verified the record. Unfortunately, it died in the process despite the anglers’ efforts to keep it alive.

“We had every intention of releasing the fish and did everything we could to keep it alive in aerated, saltwater bait tanks,” Spangler said. “But unfortunately, it just didn’t survive.”

north carolina state seatrout record

Record-Holding Fisherman Talks Gear

After the catch, Spangler defied any secretive fisherman stereotypes, chatting readily about his methods and gear.

He said the Jerk Shadz is one of his favorite baits for inshore saltwater fishing, praising its long life in the water.

“I’ll often tie on a single Jerk ShadZ at the start of a trip and catch fish with it all day long,” he said. “Four or five outings later, I’ve still got the same bait on the hook.”

Spangler swears by the “Dark ‘N’ Stormy” color pattern, designed by Z-Man pro captain C.A. Richardson.

Z-Man lure
A Dark ‘N Stormy Z-Man Jerk ShadZ

Spangler also builds his own tackle. The rod he caught the record fish with carries special significance.

“My dad and I took a rod-building course about 10 years ago,” he said. “I’d just finished building that rod a week before catching the fish. It has a lot of sentimental value.”

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