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Record-Setting Fish Was Carrying Something Extra

Steel ball bearings were found inside crappie caught in Kansas; angler insists he didn't cheat
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2024 1:11 PM CST
Updated Feb 25, 2024 6:07 AM CST
Record-Setting Fish Was Carrying Something Extra
A photo of the no-longer-record-setting crappie.   (KDWP, via Outdoor Life)

A Kansas angler broke a record last year for catching a 4.07-pound white crappie, the heaviest such specimen in the state in six decades. Now, an investigation has revealed that Bobby Parkhurst seemingly cheated to achieve that feat, though he continues to deny it. Outdoor Life reports that Parkhurst nabbed the fish in a public reservoir on March 5, 2023, near the city of Manhattan, and when he took it for its weigh-in with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, his catch was just a tad heavier than the previous record-holder, a 4.02-pound crappie yanked out of the water in 1964. After a 30-day required waiting period, Parkhurst's catch was deemed the official state record, with a KDWP official noting of the 18-inch-long crappie, "This one is certainly for the books."

However, later that April, Parkhurst says KDWP officials showed up at his home to seize the fish, apparently after receiving a tip, and in November, the agency issued a release stating that Parkhurst's crappie "could not be confirmed" as the heaviest ever in Kansas. Now, Outdoor Life reports that an investigation revealed Parkhurst had initially taken the crappie to a bait shop permitted to certify such records, but the fish didn't weigh enough to set any records. According to the bait shop owner, Parkhurst's fish weighed just 3.73 pounds. The KDWP probe then found that, before the fish was taken to a second certified scale to be weighed (where it suddenly was heavy enough to claim the record), two steel ball bearings were crammed inside the fish, as evidenced by a metal detector scan and X-rays.

"I caught that fish legally and honestly," Parkhurst insisted earlier this month, calling the game wardens who "unlawfully" came to his home to take the fish "dishonest." The agency refutes his story, saying Parkhurst willingly offered his fish up for reexamination. "The previous record for Kansas' largest crappie still stands," the KDWP has since noted in a release, per USA Today. The office of Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay says Parkhurst won't be prosecuted, citing "insufficient" evidence, per the Topeka Capital-Journal. Outdoor Life notes that Parkhurst has been hit with felony charges at least five times in Kansas since 2019, with at least one conviction for identity theft, for which he received probation. (More fish stories.)

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