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State-Record Crappie Nullified After X-Ray Reveals Ball Bearings

The Kansas slab caught last year was certified at first until further investigation.

State-Record Crappie Nullified After X-Ray Reveals Ball Bearings

Kansas officials nullified a state-record crappie after finding two steel ball bearings in the fish during an X-ray. (Photo courtesy of Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks)

It might not be as viral as the infamous “We’ve got weights in fish” story about the walleye-tournament cheating scandal on Lake Erie back in Oct. 2022, but a controversy is now brewing in the Great Plains with a dethroned state record white crappie in Kansas.

The story began last April when the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks  announced that it had certified a March 5, 2023 catch of a white crappie as the new state record after Bobby Parkhurst caught the slab at Pottawatomie State Fishing Lake No. 2. At 4.07 pounds., the white crappie was poised to break the Sunflower State’s previous benchmark of 4.02 pounds caught by Frank Miller in 1964.

Or so it seemed, because less than a week after certification of the record, the story took a different turn. The turn in events was described in a statement from KDWP provided to Game & Fish by Nadia Marji, Chief of Public Affairs & Engagement Officer for the agency.

x-ray of fish
The 4-pound crappie was X-rayed at the Topeka Zoo. (Photo courtesy of Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks)

"The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks announced on April 4, 2023, that a new state record white crappie weighing 4.07 pounds had been caught and certified," began the statement.

"Five days later, KDWP received a tip from an eyewitness that the fish had first been weighed at a second location and weighed only 3.73 pounds at that time. To preserve the integrity of KDWP's state record program, KDWP Game Wardens met with the angler who voluntarily presented his fish for re-examination. When staff used a handheld metal detector to scan the fish, the device detected the presence of metal. Wardens then took the fish to the Topeka Zoo for X-ray examination where it was revealed that two steel ball bearings were inside the crappie. As a result, the Department later nullified the angler’s catch as a state record, reinstated the previous state record (Miller, 1964) and have since made the fish available for return to the angler."

Parkhurst took to social media earlier this month to deny any wrongdoing: "I caught that fish legally and honestly," he said in a Facebook post in which he called game wardens dishonest.

"I went through all the bells and whistles as I was supposed to do. They certified and gave me the master angler award. I waited the 30 days that they by law have to wait for all this investigation to be done. These officers came to my house unlawfully and took my fish after the kdwp announced me [the] state-record holder. They have now slandered my name."

For now, media reports indicate that no prosecution is planned based on a lack of trail-worthy evidence.

Meanwhile, Miller's state-record white crappie caught nearly 60 years ago at a Greenwood County farm pond has been restored.




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