Earlier this month, we reported on a case involving a state-record crappie that game wardens seized from an angler near Topeka, Kansas. According to the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks (KDWP), that record was revoked due to inaccurate information about the fish’s weight. This morning, a KDWP spokesperson shed more light on the controversial case, telling Field & Stream that the fish had ball bearings inside its body cavity when it was weighed for the record books on a certified scale last spring.

The agency declared Bobby Parkhurst’s 4-plus-pound crappie a new state record on April 4, 2023, calling it “a once-in-a-lifetime fish.” At the time, they believed that the panfish had just dethroned a 60-year-old record. But a few days later, an anonymous tipster told KDWP that the fish’s weight was a farce.

“[We] 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,” KDWP communications officer Nadia Marji told F&S in an email. “When staff used a handheld metal detector to scan the fish, the device detected the presence of metal.”

Crappie Fishing photo

After visiting Parhurst’s home and putting a wand to his fish, KDWP took the crappie to the Topeka Zoo for a more thorough examination. At the zoo, they ran it through an x-ray machine. X-ray images taken that day and shared with F&S show two metal balls imbedded in the fish’s belly.

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It’s not clear who tipped the agents off about the fish’s original weight, or how the steel balls ended up inside its body. But the case is reminiscent of another controversy involving a pair of tournament anglers who stuffed lead weights into the bodies of walleyes they’d caught ahead of a tournament weigh-in near Cleveland, Ohio in May 2023. According to Marji, KDWP has restored the Sunflower State’s original crappie record and returned Parkhurst’s fish.