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ANGLER CATCHES A DREAM RAINBOW

ANGLER CATCHES A DREAM RAINBOW

11.02-pound fish beats old record by nearly a pound
TOPEKA — What can a brawny rainbow trout do when confronted with the skill and determination of a seasoned angler? Not much, as it turns out. Angling skill conquered brawn when Bob Lorson hooked his dream rainbow trout in the waters of Lake Shawnee, Topeka. Lorson, a Topeka resident and fervent Kansas fisherman, caught an 11.02-pound rainbow on Saturday, April 2, and the fish has been certified by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) as an official state record. The fish measured 29 inches in length and 16.5 inches in girth.

Lorson and fishing buddy Paul Hottman launched their boat at about 7:30 a.m. intending to catch big fish. According to Lorson, “If you want to catch the big ones, you’ve got to be prepared for them.”

So he loaded his fishing rod with a silver/blue Kastmaster lure on the business end of a spool of 8-pound test line. It was a chilly morning, though Lorson’s fishing would heat up long before the afternoon high reached the mid-70s. The duo had been fishing only about 45 minutes, and Lorson was on the fourth fish of a five-fish limit when the big trout attacked his lure. He quickly realized he’d hooked a big one but didn’t appreciate just how big it was until later. During the 15-minute struggle, the embattled fish tail-danced, jumped a few times, and made a run at the boat.

Hottman, as any respectable angling partner would, cheered his buddy and shouted, “Don’t horse him!” Lorson gave the monster plenty of line, not wanting to jerk the hook from its jaws or break the line, which turned out to be a wise tactic. When the battle came to a close and the tired fish was in the net, the lure fell from its mouth.

Lorson initially guessed the fish’s weight at 8 to 9 pounds. He learned this was a considerable underestimate when other friends fishing nearby who had witnessed the struggle pulled their boat alongside Lorson’s and offered up a spring-scale to weigh the fish. When it showed 11 pounds, Lorson knew he was on to something. Checking the KDWP website on his smartphone, he looked up the list of state records and confirmed that he might have a state-record rainbow trout.

Before a fish can be certified as a state record, anglers must follow a specific procedure, and Lorson carefully adhered to the process he read on the website. He first took his catch to Herman’s Meat and Deli in Topeka for an official weigh-in on certified scales. The fish had to be weighed and measured before it was frozen. Engulfed in an admiring group of onlookers, Lorson proudly looked on as the deli staff weighed his fish on two different certified scales, and both instruments reached the same conclusion — 11.02 pounds.

The following Monday, Lorson took the fish to KDWP Region 2 fisheries supervisor Chuck Bever, who confirmed that it was a rainbow trout. If the species had been suspect, tissue samples would have been taken for further analysis. (Sometimes, a potential record fish turns out to be a hybrid or not the species it was originally thought to be.) With a certified weight, measurements, and confirmation of the species, Lorson was ready to submit his application for a state record. He sent the application to KDWP’s Operations Office in Pratt where it was held for 30 days in case evidence was offered that his story or the catch was not as it was presented. That wasn’t the case, and Lorson’s catch was certified as a new state record on May 4. The previous record was a 10.29-pound trout caught at Shawnee Mission Park Lake a little more than a year ago.

Lorson plans to have a taxidermist craft a replica of the fish and then display the mount for all to admire. Grinning proudly, he admits that he still hasn’t come to terms with his accomplishment. Lorson, who has been fishing “like a crazy man” since he was 16, is not a newcomer to big fish, however. He makes it a point to angle for the largest specimens and enthusiastically recalls the big walleye, smallmouth bass, and wipers he has hooked.

“I’ve caught a lot of big fish,” he said, “but I’m usually a catch and release guy. I return catches to the water unless they’re worthy of display or too worn out to live. But after the fight this record trout went through, it was too exhausted to survive.”

Lorson is an energetic proponent of Kansas fishing. “There’s some awesome fishing in Kansas,” he said. “It’s one of the state’s best kept secrets.” He has fished many of the state’s lakes and numerous private waters and has even won small tournaments at several reservoirs. He likes Milford Reservoir and frequents Lake Shawnee in Topeka and Coffey County Lake near Burlington, his favorite.

Lake Shawnee is seasonally stocked with rainbow trout with the help of KDWP’s Community Fisheries Assistance Program (CFAP), which improves fishing opportunities at community lakes across the state. Under the program, KDWP leases fishing rights to the lake and assists with managing the fish populations. The lease offsets the local costs of operating and maintaining the fishery, and anglers are charged no additional fees.

Lorson’s exciting story is one that many state record-holders can identify with. If you think you’ve landed a record, consult the KDWP website at kdwp.state.ks.us/news/Fishing/State-Record-Fish for information and instructions on applying for a record certification. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully. For example, freezing a fish before it’s officially measured and weighed on certified scales can change its natural numbers, jeopardizing an application. It’s also important to have the fish examined by a KDWP fisheries biologist who can verify the species.
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