PRATT, KAN.—On March 7, Tony Melkus of Topeka caught the biggest rainbow trout he’d ever laid eyes on. In fact, when he had it weighed on certified scales, Melkus knew his 14.28-pound trout would be listed in the Kansas record books as the largest rainbow trout ever taken from Kansas waters. He didn’t know that before the ink would dry on his state record fish certificate, his record would be broken.
On March 10, Nicole Wilson of Topeka caught a rainbow trout eclipsing Melkus’ fish, and it now stands as the Kansas state record — as of this writing.
Wilson’s trout was huge, weighing in at 15.43 pounds, more than a pound heavier than Melkus’. Her fish was 33 inches long and had a girth of 19 inches. Both anglers caught their record fish from Lake Shawnee in Topeka.
Rainbow trout are stocked in select Kansas waters each winter to provide an alternative fishing opportunity during months when most warm-water sport fish are tough to catch. Apparently, there are some mighty large fish being delivered to Lake Shawnee. The lake is owned and operated by Shawnee County. It is enrolled in the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s (KDWPT) Community Lake Assistance Program, which means that, other than state fishing license requirements, no additional angling fees are charged although to fish for or possess trout during the Nov. 1-April 15 trout season, a KDWPT trout permit is required.
In 2011, a similar story played out. On April 2, 2011, Topekan Bob Lorson caught a 11.02-pound rainbow trout. Just 18 days later, Ed Ames of Tecumseh caught one that weighed 13.65 pounds. While Ames’ record only stood 11 months, that’s long by Kansas trout record standards.
Who knows, a bigger trout could be swimming? But anglers will have to hurry to catch it this year; few, if any, of the fish will survive Kansas summer water temperatures.