Kansas wildlife officials remove angler’s trophy catch from state record list

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Bobby Parkhurst had cause to celebrate in 2023 after he broke a nearly 60-year-old Kansas state fishing record dubbed a “catch-of-a-lifetime”. That is, he did until his catch was taken off the record list by wildlife officials.

What happened to Parkhurst’s supposed record? KSNT 27 News investigated this question by reaching out to Parkhurst and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) to get to the bottom of this fishy situation.

A New State Fishing Record?

KSNT 27 News spoke with Parkhurst shortly after he landed the record-breaking white crappie in April, 2023. He caught the fish on March 5, 2023 at Pottawatomie State Fishing Lake No. 2 on a rod and reel, according to the KDWP. The fish measured 18 inches in length and 14 inches in girth and weighed 4.07 pounds.

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The record beaten by Parkhurst last year measured 17.5 inches in length and weighed 4.02 pounds. This fish was caught by Frank Miller of Eureka on March 30, 1964. It is once again the current state fishing record for white crappie.

At the time, Parkhurst said he was ready to throw the fish back in without checking to see if it was a record. After being prodded by his family and friends, he decided to submit the crappie to the KDWP to check for its record status.

“I didn’t think I had it beat,” Parkhurst said in April, 2023.

He shared his plans with KSNT 27 News to get the fish mounted as a gift for one of his children. All was well for the next several days, but this changed on April 20, 2023 when Parkhurst said law enforcement visited his home.

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Fish Seizure

Parkhurst said game wardens came to his home and took the fish he had caught under a search warrant. KDWP spokeswoman Nadia Marji confirms law enforcement seized the frozen fish in connection to a “formal investigation.”

“They didn’t tell me anything,” Parkhurst said. “I don’t understand why they’re doing this to me.”

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Claiming to be confused in the aftermath of the seizure, Parkhurst said he tried to get answers from the KDWP. However, he has yet to get his fish back.

On Nov. 14, 2023, the KDWP updated its original press release issued on Parkhurst’s record crappie catch. A statement added to the top of the release states that, after further review by wildlife officials, the crappie caught by Parkhurst could not be confirmed. The previous record was restored with Parkhurst’s catch removed from the state fishing records website.

Why Was The Fish Taken?

Marji provided some answers regarding why the fish was taken and Parkhurst’s name removed from the list of state fishing records. She pointed to a clause listed at the bottom of all fish record applications in Kansas.

“There was not an error in the verification process,” Marji said. “Rather, information supplied to the Department by the angler via his written application form was not ‘true and correct.’”

The KDWP received a “tip” following the announcement of the new record status of Parkhurst’s catch in April last year. This prompted wildlife officials to launch an investigation into the supposed record-breaking fish and, following this review process, made the decision to reinstate the old record.

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When asked what went wrong with Parkhurst’s application, Marji said the issue came from the listed weight of the white crappie on the form.

“The fish appeared normal and healthy, and was accurately identified by staff; However, had the application been filled out accurately by the angler, it would have not qualified as a state record,” Marji said.

Parkhurst insists he filled out his application form correctly and says he wants his catch to be returned.

“I did it the whole way they wanted me to do it,” Parkhurst said. “I went through the procedures, I wrote down what I caught it on, I did everything they wanted me to do by the book. I did everything I was supposed to do. Their biologists looked at it more than once.”

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Marji said additional information on the investigation is on hold because it’s still an active case. We’ll keep you informed on any updates as this progresses.

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