One that almost got away is now official mark
Excitement turned to disappointment, then elation, followed by uncertainty. But at the end of the day, St. Louisan Bryan Chapman was the proud owner of the Missouri brown trout fishing record.
Chapman was fishing with his son, Blake, July 16 on Lake Taneycomo below Fall Creek when he hooked what felt like a big fish. It made a short run, then stopped.
"I thought I was snagged on the bottom" said Chapman. "I didn't understand what was going on."
Straining his 4-pound-test line, he hauled upward and was rewarded with the sight of a huge brown trout. Just as the fish came up next to Chapman's bass boat, his line broke. Quick action with a landing net prevented the fish from escaping.
Chapman said the fish weighed more than 29 pounds on a digital scale. However, the thought that it might be a record didn't occur to him then. He froze the fish. The next day he took it to Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in Springfield to be mounted.
"They said it weighed 27 pounds on their UPS scales, and that was greater than the state record," said Chapman. "They asked if I wanted to complete the application for a record fish, but said it still had to be weighed on a certified scale."
Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery Manager James Civiello certified the fish's species and weight. Then other questions arose. Was it legal to net the fish after it broke Chapman's line? Did it qualify for a record if net-assisted?
The Conservation Department's Protection Division investigated the circumstances surrounding the catch, and the Fisheries Division mulled the record question. Their answer: Netting a legally-hooked fish close to the boat or shoreline after the line breaks is both legal and allowable under the state record program.
"This had never come up before as far as any of us knew," said Fisheries Division Administrator Steve Eder. "We decided that since a landing net is a legitimate aid to catching hooked fish, if an angler gets a fish within netting distance before his or her line breaks it is legitimate to go ahead and net it."
Eder noted that state fishing records are highly sought-after and prestigious among many anglers. Furthermore, he said, "State records sometimes go on to be considered for world records, so we always want to make sure we consider every fact and get it right. After looking carefully at all the facts in this case, we are confident that certifying Mr. Chapman's record is the right thing to do."
When weighed officially, Chapman's fish tipped the scales at 27 pounds, 8.8 ounces. Asked if setting a state record has been an ambition of his, Chapman said, "No, I was just taking my son fishing. He had been trout fishing in Missouri parks, and I wanted to take him to Lake Taneycomo, where you can really fish for trout."
Chapman's catch topped Missouri's previous state record of 26 pounds, 13 ounces, which was set at Bull Shoals Lake in 1997.