Coker got the record back on Dec. 23, 2010, smashing the old mark by more than a pound, as the record book changed for the sixth time in 2010. His brookie weighed four pounds, 10 ounces, was 19 7/8 inches long and was swimming in a deep section of the Chattooga River when it found Coker's spinner too enticing for its own good. It was certified as the new state record by biologist Weston Houck of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
While a once long-standing record falling six times in one year - and twice to the same angler - may seem a little fishy to some folks, Dan Rankin, an SCDNR biologist whose focus is the Upstate, isn't at all. He oversees the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery, which is tasked with raising trout stocked in South Carolina's streams.
The biggest fish at the hatchery, Rankin said, are used as brood fish for producing eggs. The offspring are stocked, many of them in the Chattooga, but the brood fish usually stay in the hatchery. That changed when the agency decided to release many 2- and 3-year-old brood fish.
The Chattooga is a popular trout-fishing spot, and the Burrells Ford area, just upstream from the spot where Coker set the latest record brookie, is one of SCDNR's main stops when stocking. It is home to many primitive camping spots, has an easily accessible parking lot and features well-defined trails that follow along the river.
"Brook trout are not all of a sudden getting bigger in South Carolina," Rankin said. "Still this has created a great deal of excitement for trout anglers, and we're glad to see that."
Perhaps no one is as glad as Wes Coker. Getting into the record books twice in the same calendar year is no small feat. He likely won't be surprised if it's broken again soon, but many others won't be surprised if it's Coker, once again, who beats it.