Three record fish, two fish stories

Eric Chia, with his record rainbow trout
Eric Chia, with his record rainbow trout Courtesy Photo

Online and baitshop chatter has been hopping because of five fantastic fish caught in Kansas this year.

Three are, or will soon be, state records. Because of misidentification, two are just good fish stories.

Smallmouth bass — Frank Evans Jr. of Salina caught one fish at Milford Lake on April 4.

It was the fish of a lifetime.

Evans was fishing a plastic bait in about 20 feet of water off Milford's dam when a fish jolted his line.

Scales in the boat showed it weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces.

"I knew the record was six-something ,so I got pretty excited," Evans said.

With the fish in a livewell, Evans pulled his boat to certified scales, where the 21 1/2-inch smallmouth weighed 6.88 pounds.

That's larger than the record fish of 6.63 pounds caught at Milford in 2004.

Mike Miller of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks said the fish should soon be declared the record.

Rainbow trout — Since they have less than a snowball's chance of surviving a Kansas summer, most trout were recently stocked.

Still, a rainbow trout Eric Chia of Olathe caught March 28 was recently declared the largest caught in Kansas.

He was fishing Shawnee Mission Park Lake with his wife, Michelle Kee, when the big fish grabbed his line baited with PowerBait.

Chia had no idea it was a possible state record and left it on a stringer a half-hour while his wife fished.

At the urging of friends, he had the trout weighed on certified scales.

It's 10.29 pounds, beating the old state record of 9.33 pounds caught at Shawnee Mission Park Lake last year.

Brown trout — Daniel Schrag of McPherson was fishing the seep stream below Kanopolis Lake, one of the few waters in Kansas with brown trout, on March 18 when a big fish hit his spoon.

Certified scales showed the fish to be 4.18 pounds. The previous state record brown of 2.32 pounds was caught from the stream in January.

Schrag couldn't be reached for comment.

Crappie — That Gerard Rausch of Chanute caught a huge crappie from a pond on April 18 is a fact. From there, things get fuzzy.

Scales at a Humboldt business weighed the fish at 4.34 pounds. Rausch said he assumed it was a white crappie and it beat the record of 4.02 pounds.

After a few calls failed to reach any Wildlife and Parks biologists for an official ID, the fish was whisked to Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Mo., where it's still alive.

Stories and photos of the fish were quick to make the rounds.

Just one problem. Experts who saw photos all identified it as a black crappie. The state record for black crappie is 4.63 pounds.

Things would have been interesting had Rausch's fish really been a white crappie.

The scales in Humbolt aren't official because they're not state-certified.

Bass Pro Shops has twice since weighed the fish at about 3 pounds, 8 ounces.

Wiper — On April 9, Justin Shiney of Lawrence got a surprise when he looked in the mouth of what he assumed was a wiper he'd caught at the Toronto Lake outlet.

Rather than a wiper's split tongue patch, the big fish had a single, solid patch. According to Wildlife and Parks, that's the sign of a white bass.

On certified scales, the fish weighed 9.71 pounds, far larger than the state record of 5.67 pounds and the world record of 6 pounds, 13 ounces. The fish was kept alive at a local baitshop.

"Every fisherman in the area came in and looked to see if it was a white bass or a wiper," Shiney said. "It was about a 50-50 vote."

A few days later a biologist sent a tissue sample to Texas for analysis. It was unquestionably a wiper with a rare single tongue patch.

"I just kind of figured that's what it was," Shiney said. "but it was fun to dream about (a world record) for a second. It's still the biggest wiper I've ever caught and it was fun."

The state-record wiper is 22.39 pounds.

Wildlife and Parks is re-evaluating how anglers identify whites and wipers.

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