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Kingston angler's catch goes viral

Michael Lawson of Kingston caught a crappie exceeding 4 pounds and another larger than 3 pounds on the same day from Durant City Lake. [Photo provided]

Michael Lawson of Kingston caught a crappie exceeding 4 pounds and another larger than 3 pounds on the same day from Durant City Lake. [Photo provided]

Catching a 2-pound crappie is uncommon.

Catching a 3-pound crappie is rare.

Catching a 4-pound crappie is unheard of.

At least it was until March 29, when Michael Lawson of Kingston caught a 4.22-pound crappie on Durant City Lake.

Lawson, who frequents the lake, not only caught a crappie that was just ounces shy of the state record, he also boated another crappie that exceeded 3 pounds.

“It wasn't just a home run,” said Matt Mauck, south-central region fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “It was a grand slam day for Mr. Lawson.”

How rare is a 4-pound crappie? Barry Bolton, chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, worked for 10 years at the agency's fisheries research lab and was involved in a crappie research project.

“We literally, I am not exaggerating, netted tens of thousands of crappie from all across the state as part of this research project,” he said. “During that time, I saw fewer than five crappie over 3 pounds. We never saw a 4-pound crappie. That's how rare those things are.”

The photo of Lawson's crappie was posted on the Wildlife Department's Facebook page and has since generated more than 1.5 million views, the most-viewed post ever on the agency's Facebook page.

"Several posts we've made over the past few years have reached about a half-million people, but none compares to this post about those huge crappie from Durant Lake," said Don P. Brown, information specialist for the Wildlife Department.

The state record for black crappie, which is the species of crappie that Lawson caught, is 4 pounds, 10 ounces. The state record was caught in 1974 in an Ottawa County farm pond. Lawson's fish is about 6 ounces shy of the record.

Mauk said the Durant City Lake has seen an increase in traffic since the photo was posted on social media. Anglers from as far away as Iowa have been calling to get information about the lake, he said.    

Big crappie are being caught elsewhere in the state as well. In Oklahoma City, Marc Downs of Midwest City caught the new lake record crappie at Lake Stanley Draper on St. Patrick's Day with a fish weighing 2.6 pounds.

Crappie fishing should be going gangbusters all across the state soon. In some lakes in southern Oklahoma, the fish have started to move into shallow water to spawn.

“We got all stages of the spawn going on right now,” Mauk said.


Ed Godfrey

Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more... Read more ›