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“I Caught That Fish Legally and Honestly.” Kansas Officials Seize State-Record Crappie, Strike It From Record Books

Roughly six months after they certified Bobby Parkhurst's white crappie as a new state record, game wardens came to his home and took the fish from his freezer
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A white crappie caught in Kansas.
A close-up view of Parkhurst's crappie that was initially confirmed as a Kansas state record and then removed from the record book. Photograph courtesy KDWP

Update: The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks released new information about its investigation into the disqualified state-record crappie on Feb. 16. Read the full story here.

It took 60 years for someone to break the Kansas state record for white crappie, and only six months for that record to be taken away. Now, the angler who caught the alleged state-record fish is crying foul.

“I caught that fish legally and honestly,” Bobby Parkhurst wrote in a Facebook post Saturday, claiming that wildlife officers came to his house “unlawfully” to take his fish after the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks had already certified it as a new state record. He said the seizure of his fish by state game wardens amounted to “slander.”

A KDWP spokesperson has since denied that the search of Parkhurst’s home was unlawful and says that “[he] willingly let officials inside of his home to view and obtain the fish.”

The state-record saga involving Parkhurst and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks began on March 5, 2023, when Parkhurst caught a slab white crappie from a small public reservoir near Manhattan. He kept the crappie and submitted it for record consideration with KDWP, which required him to weigh and measure the fish in front of an agency official. KDWP’s assistant director of fisheries John Reinke inspected the fish and confirmed the crappie’s weight of 4.07 pounds, according to the agency’s press release from April. This meant the fish was just big enough to edge out the previous state record for white crappie, which had stood since 1964 at 4.02 pounds.

As Outdoor Life reported in the spring, KDWP certified Parkhurst’s 4.07-pound crappie as a new state record on April 4, 2023, after the mandatory 30-day waiting period was complete. Kansas requires all potential record fish to undergo this waiting period before any records are declared official.

“As fisheries biologists, we get the chance to see a lot of big fish but this one is certainly for the books,” Reinke said of Parkhurst’s record-breaking crappie at the time. “This crappie measured in at 18 inches long and 14 inches in girth, so it truly deserves a spot on the state record list.”

Later that month, however, agency officials were given reason to believe that Parkhurst’s fish wasn’t so deserving of the state record, after all. They received a tip and launched an investigation into the fish, according to local NBC affiliate KSNT, which broke the news Saturday after a local reporter noticed that Parkhurst was no longer in the state’s fishing records book. Parkhurst told the local news outlet that game wardens came to his home on April 20, 2023 and seized the crappie from his freezer.

Months later, KDWP updated its April 4 press release on Nov. 14, saying Parkhurst’s crappie “could not be confirmed” and that the previous crappie record set in 1964 still stands. KDWP spokesperson Nadia Marji confirmed in an email to Outdoor Life on Monday that Parkhurst’s crappie was officially removed from the record book on Nov. 14. Marji said that after seizing Parkhurst’s crappie in April, officials re-examined the fish and found that Parkhurst’s record application “was not true and correct.”

“The application alleged the fish weighed 4.07 pounds,” Marji explained. “Upon re-examination, this could not be replicated [or] verified by the Department.”

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Marji declined to provide any additional information about the mix-up since the agency’s case against Parkhurst is still active. She confirmed that the case has been submitted to the local county attorney’s office for review. Parkhurst did not immediately reply to a request for comment, but he told KSNT on Saturday that he wants his state record restored and his fish 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.”