When Jeff Faulkenberry went crappie fishing Tuesday at Truman Lake, little did he know that he would catch a fish that would become the talk of Missouri.
Oh, he started off catching big fish right away. In fact, he landed one that weighed two pounds, nearly his personal best on Truman.
But it was the crappie he caught next that was the fish of a lifetime.
“I had been catching some big crappies, so I decided to try a little spot where I had sunk a brush pile,” said Faulkenberry who lives in Clinton, Mo., and operates Faulkenberry’s Endless Season Guide Service. “I dropped a minnow into the brush and it was a hit and run.
“I thought I had a hybrid, the way it was fighting.”
To his surprise, it was a giant crappie — a fish that weighed 3.21 pounds. Faulkenberry decided to keep the fish alive in an aerated tank, get measurements of his catch, then release it. But those plans changed when he posted a photo of his fish on Facebook and he was contacted by Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, which has huge display tanks in its showroom. Faulkenberry offered to donate the crappie to Bass Pro, which in turn agreed to have a replica mount made for him.
The guide rushed his catch to Bass Pro and was greeted by a team of fisheries biologists, who made certain the fish became acclimated to its new surroundings.
Faulkenberry’s fish will be on display at the Wonders of Wildlife Museum, which is being renovated and will open soon.
“I’m glad that crappie survived so that others will be able to see it,” he said. “It’s an impressive fish.”
An unlikely celebration
These days, wildlife watchers will put on special days for just about every critter imaginable — including vultures.
The large, dark-colored birds, often called buzzards, aren’t the most popular avian species. With their ugly looks and penchant for honing in on dead animals, they don’t have a lot of appeal.
But the Missouri Department of Conservation is out to give vultures a little positive publicity. For the 19th year, it will put on a Vulture Venture program from noon to 5 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery on the west end of Lake Taneycomo.
Vultures gather by the hundreds at Lake Taneycomo in the winter, partly because of the lake’s steep shorelines, which protect the birds from cold winds, and partly because of the tall trees that provide ideal roosting sites.
The program will give visitors a chance to view the birds in the wild and also to see a captive bird up-close during indoor programs.
Seminar will feature nationally known artist
An open forum featuring Joe Tomelleri of Leawood, a nationally known fish illustrator and an avid fly fisherman, will be held Feb. 21 at the K&K Flyfishers Shop, 8643 Grant St., Overland Park.
The forum, which will be from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., is part of K&K’s weekly seminar series. Tomelleri’s drawings, which have appeared in more than 1,000 publications, are known for their scientific accuracy.
He will talk about his adventures in locating some of the species he has drawn and also will offer fly fishing tips. Call 913-341-8118 for reservations.
Pheasants Forever fundraiser set
The Kansas City Heartland Chapter of Pheasants Forever invites the public to its 30th anniversary party.
The auction and banquet will be 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Feb. 27 at the Adams Pointe Conference Center, 1500 NE Coronado Drive, Blue Springs.
The event will start with a social hour at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. and the auction at 8 p.m.
Tickets will cost $65 for Pheasants Forever members, $20 for spouses and $25 for ringnecks (youngsters).
Call Joe Haney at 816-550-5622 for information about tickets.
To reach outdoors editor Brent Frazee, call 816-234-4319 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter.com@fishboybrent.