Something’s fishy in the state of Kansas!
In March 2023, avid angler Bobby Parkhurst caught a giant white crappie that was certified as the new Kansas state record. Seven months later, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks took the record and fish from him.
As this case immediately caught my attention, I reached out to Bobby via Facebook and did an interview with him.
Keep reading this article to get the full, controversial story!
Catching the Crappie of a Lifetime
According to the official report published by the KDWP, it was on March 5, 2023, that Topeka resident Bobby Parkhurst was fishing at Pottawatomie State Fishing Lake No. 2 when a huge crappie took his minnow.
Little did Parkhurst know that what loomed beneath the surface, ready to strike, would break a Kansas state record set the same month, nearly 60 years prior.
Getting the Fish Certified
Bobby told me that he did everything by the book:
“I had two biologists verify my fish. I had Apple Market-certified scales weighing the fish. I had a color photo from the catch fresh out of the lake. I completed the application, which the KDWP signed and certified, and waited the 30 days before the fish was said to be the record.”
The official report states that: after inspection and measurement by John Reinke, assistant director of Fisheries for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Bobby’s catch was weighed on a certified scale where it was recorded as weighing 4.07 pounds.
“As fisheries biologists, we get the chance to see a lot of big fish, but this one is certainly for the books,” said Reinke. “This crappie measured in at 18 inches long and 14 inches in girth, so it truly deserves a spot on the state record list.”
A few weeks later, on March 30, 2023, the KDWP had officially certified the catch as the new Kansas state record for white crappie.
Here is the letter Bobby received from the department that day:
The State Department even gave Bobby a Master Angler Award for his incredible catch:
So far so good, right? Well, not really! After receiving his award, things started to get weird.
The KDWP Changes Its Mind About the Record
On April 20, 2023, a few weeks after Bobby’s record had been certified, game wardens came to his home and seized the frozen fish.
Bobby told me that: “The game wardens took the fish while I was at work. I told my girlfriend to hand it over willingly, in good faith. They did not tell me anything as to why they took the fish, as I was not present at the time.”
After that, things went quiet for a long time. Bobby was waiting to hear back from the Department, but told me that he’d received no information at all.
Until November 14, 2023, when the KDWP updated its official report, stating that:
“Upon further review by KDWP officials, the crappie caught by Parkhurst could not be confirmed; therefore, the previous record for Kansas’ largest crappie still stands (Miller, 1964).”
After so many months of waiting and absolutely no word from the Department, Bobby was baffled when he found out about the Department’s decision via the news just a few days ago.
His girlfriend had called the news to see if they could stir this up.
“I don’t know why I was not informed directly. I was communicating as well as I could. I really don’t understand why they are doing this to me.”
Explanations Given by the KDWP
So what made the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks change its mind? Well, that’s the part that still remains somewhat unclear to this day.
According to media reports, a tip received by the KDWP led to an investigation into Bobby’s record.
KSNT 27 News interview, the KDWP stated that there had been no error in the verification process. Instead, the information supplied via the record application was not true and correct.
The Department’s spokesperson then added that the issue was with the listed weight on the form and that it had not been filled out accurately by the angler.
I have to say that I’ve got two major issues with these statements!
1) Why did neither the KDWP nor the biologists notice the apparent inaccurate weight on the form when the fish got weighed in and certified? After all, the weight of 4.07 pounds was made official, and thereby, Bobby’s record was approved!
2) Why did it take the KDWP 7 months to make that decision public, and why didn’t they inform Bobby directly and immediately?
Additionally, I wonder why Bobby hasn’t gotten his fish back either! If the record is nullified, then the crappie should be returned to him, shouldn’t it?
Bobby insists that he filled out the application properly, adding the correct weight.
And, again, if the weight didn’t match the one from the official and certified weigh-in, why didn’t anybody say something back then?
I really have to say that there are a lot of question marks surrounding this controversy!
As a passionate angler myself, I’d be as surprised and upset as Bobby is, and I find the KDWP’s behavior extremely unprofessional!
I really hope that things will get sorted out and that Bobby will get his record and his fish back.
Finally, I asked Bobby how he felt about the whole thing as an angler and a human being:
“This is a disgrace for the KDWP, as I am an avid angler and try my best to get younger kids involved in the sport. I have given several fishing poles and talked away as kids needed something to fish with almost every time I go out on public fisheries.”
I would like to thank Bobby for telling his story and talking to me, and wish him all the best! Tight lines, Bobby!
What’s your take on this, dear readers? Has this happened in your home state? Could something like this happen where you live?
Write down your thoughts in the comments section below!