Prairie Village man lands fish of a lifetime

Bob Bates of Prairie Village hugged the 56-inch northern pike he caught last week in Ontario, Canada. He later released the fish.
Bob Bates of Prairie Village hugged the 56-inch northern pike he caught last week in Ontario, Canada. He later released the fish. Submitted photo

Bob Bates, 80, has been fishing Lake Metionga in Ontario for 35 years.

But he’s never experienced a fishing trip like he did a week ago.

Trolling in deep water with a 6-inch jointed Rapala, he felt a jolting strike. When he set the hook, he knew he had something far bigger than the walleyes he was trying to catch.

After a spirited fight, he found that he had a monstrous northern pike — a fish that he later measured at 56 inches. Bates, who lives in Prairie Village, didn’t have a scale.

But he later used a inches-to-weight conversion chart to get a rough idea of how much the fish weighed.

“The charts estimate that it was right around 50 pounds,” Bates said. “We were using a huge net, but once my fishing partner, Roger Wood, netted it, he could hardly lift it.”

The fish didn’t come as a total surprise. Bates knew from experience that the fly-in lake had some trophy pike.

He and his friends have caught and released northerns measuring more than 40 inches in the past. But this fish was in a class by itself.

Bates noted that the northern pike wasn’t far from the world record of 55 pounds. But he posed for photos, then released his catch.

For Bates, it is just one more memory of a long annual fishing trip to Ontario. He and friends use the Rusty Myers Flying Service to reach the remote lake, then stay in a cabin for the week.

“It’s one of the best walleye lakes you’ll find,” he said. “But it has some big pike, too.”

Little change in duck numbers

If you were satisfied with the number of ducks migrating south last fall, this will come as reassuring news.

Duck breeding populations remain steady and statistically similar to last year’s totals, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Total populations were estimated at 48.4 million breeding ducks in the northern United States and Canada, similar to the 49.5 million estimated last year. This year’s total is 38 percent ahead of the 1955-2015 long-term average.

Just as encouraging to Missouri and Kansas hunters is the fact that the mallard population is similar to last year.

Emporia shooter is on mark

Megan Hilbish, a student at Emporia State University, did well in the recent NRA National Smallbore Rifle Championship in Bristol, Ind.

She finished fifth in the nation and second in the Civilian class (out of all competitors excluding active service men and women) for combined scores in two shooting disciplines.

By finishing in the top 10 in the women’s competition, she qualified for a spot on a team of Americans that will compete against Great Britain in the Randle International Postal Team Match.