Pity the lowly bullhead. Beloved by young anglers and bucket-sitting, cane pole-toting worm-dunkers, these unpretty little catfish get no respect - unless they are twice the size that fishing encyclopedias say they should be.
Then they are world records. That is the case with a tremendous yellow bullhead caught south of Kansas City over the Memorial Day weekend.
John Irvin was crappie fishing at Old Drexel Lake late in the afternoon on May 27 when something big bit.
"My cork went down," Irvin said, "and I set the hook and pulled that thing up through the moss and I said, 'That has to be a bullhead.' I got to looking at him and I said 'That's a bullhead all right.'"
Still, Irvin was a little confused. He had never seen one that large. In fact, as far as record books show, no one has.
Missouri's previous pole-line-and-lure record for yellow bullhead was a 5-pound, 13-ounce specimen taken from a farm pond near Blue Springs in 1986.
The International Game Fish Association in Diana Beach, Fla., counts a 4-pound, 4-ounce fish caught in Arizona as its all-tackle record, and the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wisc., recognizes a 4-pound, 15-ounce fish from Georgia as the high-water mark for yellow bullheads.
When state official Phil Needham put Irvin's fish on his own certified scales, he watched the weight level off at 6 pounds, 6 ounces.
Here is where the story gets really interesting for other bullhead anglers. Irvin fished the same lake again for the next two days and landed two more yellow bullheads that dragged his pocket fish scales down to the 6-pound mark.
He didn't bother having them officially weighed, since they fell short of his first catch. He also had his line broken by three fish.