South Carolina's brook trout record, which until 2010 had stood for more than 30 years, was recently broken three times in less than a week as mature brood fish from the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery were stocked in Upstate streams. In all, the state's brook trout record has been broken five times in 2010.

"Brook trout are not all of a sudden getting bigger in South Carolina," said Dan Rankin, a fisheries biologist for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. "We have been recently taking the older brood fish that are used to provide eggs out of Walhalla State Fish Hatchery, and stocking them in Upstate streams. These 2-year-old and 3-year-old brood fish are the record fish that are now being caught. Still, this has created a great deal of excitement for trout anglers, and we're glad to see that."

The recent roller-coaster ride began March 25 when Wes Coker of Simpsonville caught a brook trout on the Chattooga River, between Burrells Ford and the Walhalla hatchery, using a Panther Martin spinner. The fish weighed 2 pounds, 14.56 ounces, which broke the 2-pound, 12-ounce record that had been caught Feb. 12 in Lake Jocassee by Bryan Lee of Mauldin. Before Lee's record, the state record brook trout came out of the South Saluda River, when 9-year-old Riley Dunn of Tigerville caught a 2-pound, 6.08-ounce brook trout on Jan. 22.

However, since existing records must be exceeded by a minimum of two ounces to be supplanted in the state record book, Riley's catch shared the top spot with the long-standing record, a 2-pound, 6-ounce brookie caught by L. Dean Chapman of Salem on the Chattooga River in 1979.

Coker's record stood for only two days. Jonathan R. Geer, an 11-year-old angler from Abbeville, broke it on March 27 when he caught a 3-pound, 2.6-ounce brook trout in the Grapevine section of the Chauga River using a "Joe's Flies" No. 8 Brown Wooly Worm with a gold blade.

Geer held the record for a whopping four days before Wayne E. Hallberg of Travelers Rest caught a 3-pound, 9.5-ounce brook trout March 31 in the South Saluda River, using a Super Duper Spinner. Geer's brook trout is the current state record holder-for now!

All freshwater fish records for South Carolina can be found online at http://dnr.sc.gov/fish/freshrecs/records.html. To report your record breaking catch, an Affidavit for Record Freshwater Game Fish must be completed and submitted to DNR no more than 45 days after the catch.

Anglers who think they have caught a state or world record fish should take the fish as soon as possible to a set of state certified scales-such as a local grocery store scale. Two witnesses must be present and available to sign the state affidavit form. Photos should be taken for additional documentation and steps taken to immediately preserve the fish. This can be done by wrapping the fish in a dark plastic bag and placing the fish on ice or freezing it.