Josh Rouse: Potential new state record black crappie caught in California a great way to start the spring frenzy

Josh Rouse
Topeka Capital-Journal
Dave Burruss, owner of Clearlake Outdoors, set a potential California state record this past week when he caught a 4.33-pound black crappie on Clear Lake in Lakeport, Calif. The old record was 4 pounds, 1 ounce.
  • Dave Burruss, of Lakeport, Calif., set a potential state record with his 4.33-pound black crappie
  • Burruss owns Clearlake Outdoors Bait & Tackle Shop
  • California's previous black crappie record was 4 pounds, 1 ounce

As we replace the subzero temperatures experienced across the Midwest last week with more moderate weather this week, spring crappie fishing again comes to mind.

But while anglers in the middle of the country were drilling holes in the ice in search of panfish and other species last week — YouTube fishing star Alex Peric of the Googan Squad was even featured catching a bass through the ice in Frisco, Texas, during a live interview on the BBC ( — one man in California had his sights set on landing a state-record crappie.

Dave Burruss, of Lakeport, Calif., appears to have broken that record after hooking into a monstrous 4-pound, 5.44-ounce black crappie Feb. 17 on Clear Lake, where he owns and operates Clearlake Outdoors Bait & Tackle Shop.

The record is pending certification, with the previous state-best black crappie tipping the scales at 4 pounds, 1 ounce — caught on New Hogan Lake by Wilma Honey in 1975. 

Burruss said he was using his live-scan sonar in search of bass and saw a few larger fish on the screen. The three fish were suspended at 6 to 10 feet deep in 25 feet of water and ended up being massive crappie, rather than bass, as he thought.

“I saw the fish on Garmin LiveScope before I made the catch,” Burruss told The Topeka Capital-Journal. “It was caught on a Coolbaits Underspin with a 4-inch Keitech Easy Shiner swimbait. Catching two-pound crappie on this lake is common, three-pounders are rare. Four-pounders, different story.”

Burruss' crappie measured 17 3/4 inches in length with a 16-inch girth. While he was thrilled by the catch, he says bass will remain his bread and butter.

“Very happy to catch the record, but I am huge largemouth bass fisherman and that will stay my main focus,” Burruss said. “Crappie fishing is my favorite in January and February on Clear Lake. You can catch up to 100 crappie a day and all being 1 to 2.5 pounds.”

This fish is headed to the biologist at Clear Lake to learn more about its age and genetics. He said it will then be mounted and put in his store for people to come see up close.

Those wishing to see the potential new record in person and peruse his wares can visit his Clearlake Outdoors Bait & Tackle Shop at 96 Soda Bay Road in Lakeport, Calif. For more information on the store, visit or call 707-262-5852.

For more on the back story of Burruss' potential record-setting fish, check out USA Today's story online at

Seven-year-old Carver McDonald, of Madison, holds up his 24-inch-long largemouth bass he caught through the ice at an area farm pond during a deep freeze last week.

On the ice

But just because it was cold, that doesn’t mean the fish weren’t biting.

Madison’s Rob McDonald and his sons Mason, 10, and Carver, 7, hit up an area farm pond to do some ice fishing this past week, finding a thick layer of ice that ranged from 8 to 10 inches on top of the water.

The trio found a good haul of crappie while fishing with tungsten jigs, and Carver even caught himself a 24-inch largemouth bass on a 3-inch shiner, long enough to qualify for a Kansas Master Angler award.

“Ice fishing is a lot of fun because you’re right over the fish, and you never know what you’re going to catch,” Carver said. 

“We were all surprised and excited when this big fish showed up in the hole,” Rob McDonald added.

It was good to see all three of them wear ice picks around their neck for safety. Ice picks can help anglers who fall through the ice pull themselves out.

Sadly, two Missouri fishermen drowned in southeast Kansas this week while fishing on a striped mine put as temperatures jumped back up into the 70s on Tuesday.

The bodies of Robert Sleep, 70, and Stephen LeMasters, 71, both of Joplin, Mo., were recovered Wednesday at Mined Wildlife Land No. 40 northwest of Columbus.

Stay safe out there, folks, and I look forward to seeing your pre-spawn fishing pictures over the next few months.

Ten-year-old Mason McDonald, of Madison, holds up a crappie he caught through the ice at an area farm pond during a deep freeze last week.
Madison's Rob McDonald and his two sons caught a nice haul of crappie while ice fishing last week during a deep freeze.
Rob McDonald, of Madison, holds up a nice crappie he caught through the ice while fishing at an area farm pond last week.