Calvin Johnston went from just another fisherman in the crowd to a celebrity in one day.
Fishing on Feb. 27 on the White River near Cotter, Ark., Johnston caught his first brown trout. Ever. And what a fish it was.
Johnston, who lives in Olathe, landed a 38-pound, 7-ounce, 36 1/2 inch brown — the biggest ever recorded on the White River and the third largest ever taken in Arkansas, according to fisheries officials with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Not bad for a guy who was on his first serious trout-fishing trip.
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“My brother and his friends have a tradition of going to the White at this time of the year to go trout fishing,” said Johnston, 37. “I’m more of a bass fisherman, but they asked me if I wanted to go, so I tagged along.”
Using his bass rod and 15-pound test line, Johnston had joined the others in wading the Arkansas river and casting to likely trout hangouts, but he had only caught one small rainbow. After a break, he decided to try again, but his waders were frozen. So he fished from the bank behind the Rainbow Drive Resort where he was staying.
“I cast to a big rock at the edge of the dock that looked good, and that fish just slammed it,” said Johnston, who caught the fish on Mepps Comet Mino spinner. “It just took off and almost ran all the line off my reel.”
After a 20-minute fight, he had the fish to the shallows, where a fellow fisherman netted it for him. Now he is enjoying life in the spotlight.
“I can’t believe people’s response to that fish,” Johnston said. “People are still talking about it.”
Wyandotte is a go
The warm weather couldn’t have come at a better time for fishermen at Wyandotte County Lake.
The fishing season at the lake in Kansas City, Kan., was scheduled to open March 7, but it was pushed back a week because the lake was still partially covered with ice.
The ice is gone now, though, and the season will open at 6 a.m. Saturday.
Snagging season to open
Paddlefish snaggers may have to be patient this year.
The season opens Sunday in Missouri and Kansas, but fisheries biologists aren’t expecting much from the early portion.
Why? Cool water temperatures and a lack of rain have kept the paddlefish’s spawning migration from starting yet.
“The best snagging conditions occur when the water temperature reaches 50 to 55 degrees and there is an increase in water flow,” said Trish Yasger, a fisheries biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation. “This prompts them to move upstream to spawn.”
Nonetheless, the opener generally attracts a crowd of fishermen and fish are caught. Popular snagging spots in Missouri include Lake of the Ozarks, Truman Lake, Table Rock Lake, the Osage River below Bagnell Dam and the Missouri River.
In Kansas, designated stretches of the Neosho and the Marais des Cygnes rivers also are open to paddlefish snagging, and can produce monstrous fish.
Crappie-fishing seminar set
Want to learn how and where to catch crappies at Smithville Lake? Here’s your chance to get some tips.
Gary Burton, well-known guide and owner of a bait and tackle shop at Smithville, will give a talk at 11 a.m. Saturday at Smithville Marina.
The talk, which is free and open to the public, will focus on where to find crappies at different times of the year, baits, techniques and equipment.
To reach outdoors editor Brent Frazee, call 816-234-4319 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter.com@fishboybrent.