A private lake in Callaway County produced the 5-pound black crappie.
FULTON, Mo.-John Horstman had not been pumping iron before he
hooked a state-record black crappie, but he got a little workout landing the
fish, which broke Missouriís state pole-and-line record and could be an
international record, too.
Horstman and his son Doug were on a sort of annual trip April 21. Doug is a
certified public accountant, and after the rush of tax season passes each
year he and his dad take a few fishing trips. They had permission to fish a
private lake in their home area of rural Callaway County, and started
fishing around 9 a.m. It was their first time there.
They were fishing with live minnows, hooking the bait fish through the lips,
from the bottom up. By 11 a.m. they had caught several nice crappie,
including a 15-incher and a slightly shorter one that Doug boated. Then John
hooked a monster.
"We could tell it was big," said John, "but we couldnít tell what it was
until it got up close to the boat. When we saw it we knew it was a good
The fish fought hard, making several strong runs that taxed Johnís spincast
reel. He was pretty sure his 14-pound-test line would hold, but he worried
that the fish might straighten out his No. 4 wire hook.
"Then it got tangled around the anchor rope, of course," he said.
After a few tense moments, Doug grabbed the fish by lip and John grabbed the
anchor, and they lifted both into the boat. They put the 19-inch black
crappie in the boatís live well and then went back to fishing, but the
morningís action was over, so they went home. When they got there, they put
Johnís big crappie on a scale.
"It weighed a little over 5 pounds on that scale, so we got kind of
excited," he said. "Until then we thought it probably weighed around 4
Doug called the Missouri Department of Conservation and learned that the
state record for a black crappie was 4.5 pounds. The next stop was the
Conservation Department Headquarters in Jefferson City. With Fisheries
Programs Supervisor in tow, they went to the produce department at the
Gerbes Food Store on Truman Boulevard, where the scale showed that
Horstmanís fish weighed 5.02 pounds.
The Conservation Department has certified the fish as a new state record.
The previous record dates to 1967, when Ray Babcock of Independence caught a
4-pound, 8-ounce black crappie from a farm pond in Clay County. The state
record for the closely related white crappie belongs to Samuel H. Barbee of
Poplar Bluff, who caught a 4-pound, 9-ounce fish of that species from a
County farm pond in 2000.
Horstmanís fish is larger than the current all-tackle record listed by the
International Game Fish Association in Dania Beach, Fla. Two fish are tied
for their record. Both those fish weighed 4.5 pounds.
Horstmanís fish is destined for fame regardless of whether it becomes an
IGFA all-tackle record. He donated his lunker-still swimming, to Bass Pro
Shops. It will be kept in quarantine and eventually go on display in an
aquarium at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in Springfield.
Horstman, 69, does a lot of fishing. Mostly he fishes in small Missouri
River tributaries and blue holes gouged out by the Great Flood of 1993. He
said he has not been back to the record-producing lake to fish since his big
For more information about Missouriís state-record fish program, visit
click on "Fishing." Next, click on "Fish and Fishing," and then click on
"Fishing records - pole and line."
Black and white crappie go by a long list of common names, including white
perch, white bream, papermouth (because of their thin, fragile mouths),
calico bass (because the spotted flanks of black crappie look like calico
fabric), slab (because they reach large size) and sac-a-lait (French for
"bag of milk").
-Jim Low -
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