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Big Kansas Rainbow Trout

Big Kansas Rainbow Trout

Northeastern Kansas isn't graced with the resplendent  trout waters that Matt Straw so gracefully writes about. In fact, it's likely that Straw and many other anglers of his caliber would find our waterways to be rather dispiriting places to ply.

Nevertheless, we make do, and we occasionally catch a few rainbow trout at a several of our reservoirs during the cold-water months. For instance, Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and I spend about four hours on Mar. 5 doing what we call bass fishing for trout. On this outing, we caught 18 rainbow trout that ranged in size from two pounds to more than four pounds. (For more information about our bass fishing for trout tactics, please consult this blog: https://www.in-fisherman.com/2012/02/22/bass-fishing-for-trout/)


This morning Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, and Guide Lines Guide Service, who frequently fishes with Desch and me, sent me the following account he wrote about a 14.28-pound rainbow trout that was caught by one his friends:


"Jay Melkus of Topeka , who is an on-call nurse for Grace Hospice, boated what may be the new Kansas record rainbow trout.

Melkus and Steve Dawdy of Topeka were fishing Lake Shawnee during the evening of Mar. 7.

The wind had howled all day, but it had begun to lay by late afternoon, which gave Melkus and Dawdy a few hours to fish and probe some of the lake's rocky shorelines.

On this outing, Melkus wielded a six-foot, six-inch St. Croix rod and a Pflueger President reel spooled with Trilene four-pound-test monofilament line.


To the line, he affixed a weighted bobber. Three feet below the bobber, he attached one of his hand-tied 1/80-ounce marabou jigs in a fawn-brown hue.

He presented this jig-and-bobber combo to the trout by executing a 25-foot cast towards a rocky shoreline. Then he retrieved it by slowly cranking the reel handle. At times his jig was virtually motionless and almost in a suspended state.

He and Dawdy were having a delightful time as they tangled with six handsome rainbow trout.


At 6:30 p.m., the delightful spell turned electrifying when Melkus' bobber slipped below the surface and a 20-minute donnybrook ensued.

As Melkus battled this behemoth, he was well aware that he should not rely on the drag mechanism of his spinning reel. Instead, Melkus, who is a veteran and talented angler, implemented the classic back-reeling maneuver when the trout made its frequent, electrifying, soul-stirring and nearly overwhelming surges. This procedure allowed the line to smoothly peel off the spool of Melkus' spinning reel.

After boating the fish and taking several cellphone photographs, Melkus and Dawdy stared at the fish and one another in disbelief for what seemed like hours. Eventually they decided to get the fish properly identified, measured and weighed. Thus, they put the monster on ice for the night. Straightaway on the morning of Mar 8, they headed to Herman's Meat Market, where its congenial employees weighed what will certainly be the new Kansas record rainbow trout.

Melkus' trout weighed 14.28 pounds. It measured 30.5 inches in length with a girth of 18.75 inches.

The state record was broken twice last year in a matter of weeks. Will Melkus' trout withstand the test of time?"


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