Philip Hilker got the birthday present he wanted — a trophy catfish.
His dad, Jason, wanted to get something special for his son’s 13th birthday, so he arranged for guide Chris Jones to take Philip fishing.
Shortly after Philip’s June 21 birthday, Jones and the teenager went out on Lake of the Ozarks. Several hours later, Philip Hilker’s dream materialized.
“We had caught some smaller ones, but it had been slow for a while,” said Hilker, who lives in Wellington, Mo. “I was messing around and I started singing ‘The Final Countdown,’ near the end of the trip.
“That’s when this big one hit. It bent the rod down all the way and I knew I had a big one.”
The giant blue catfish fought hard, and it became a battle of who would give up first.
“I told Chris I needed some help, but he wanted me to do it all on my own,” Hilker said. “Now I’m glad he did.”
Hilker eventually got the fish into the boat and Jones netted the fish. Once Jones, who runs the Catfish Pursuit Guide Service, lifted the fish onto a scale, he found that it weighed 48.8 pounds.
An excited Hilker posed for photos, then decided to release his catch.
For the avid young fisherman, that amounted to the fish of a lifetime — so far at least.
Though he considers himself a bass fisherman, Hilker and his dad were impressed with Jones long before the boy went fishing with him.
“We met Chris at a boat ramp and talked about catfish, and he was great with us,” Jason Hilker said. “Philip started following him on Facebook and he became a big fan of his.”
A Kansas City masterpiece
Artists from more than 20 states are in the Kansas City area this weekend to display their work at the National Wildlife Art Show.
Artists from as far away as Utah, Virginia, Arizona and Oregon will be included in the showcase, which will run from noon to 8 p.m. Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center, 18011 Bass Pro Drive in Independence. The art show is part of one of the area’s largest outdoors celebrations of the year, the Heartland Outdoor Days at the Independence Bass Pro Shop.
Admission to the art show is free and artists will be selling some of their art work.
Kids Fishing Day
Children ages 15 and under will be treated to a special day of trout fishing Aug. 20 at Roaring River State Park in southwest Missouri.
A portion of the trout stream will be reserved for the kids, and volunteers will help them learn how to catch the rainbows. Parents or adult mentors may help children, but they cannot fish by themselves.
Organizers urge families to bring their own fishing equipment. Throughout Kids Fishing Day, there will be seminars on fish cleaning, Dutch oven cooking, taxidermy, knot tying, fly tying and casting. There also will be talks on stream biology, conservation and watersheds.
Kids Fishing Day will be sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Department of Natural Resources and several businesses and local organizations.