On April 27, a 43-year Kansas state record was smashed when Thayne Miller pulled a monstrous smallmouth buffalo fish out of the waters of Clinton Reservoir, a 7,000-acre parcel of land 25 miles east of Topeka. The fish weighed in at just under 65 pounds, far exceeding the 51-pound fish that previously held the record from 1979.
What is even more incredible is that Thayne caught his record-breaking smallmouth buffalo bowfishing, a method of fishing that uses specialized archery equipment and relies solely on a fisherman's visual perception and marksmanship to land fish, rather than any bait.
Thayne Miller, 30, is a pipefitter from Topeka with over 20 years of archery experience. He's no stranger to the sport of bowfishing and runs a custom-rigged skiff with an open deck and light bars, which he uses to fish carp and smallmouth buffalo in the waters near his home.
He's been after a record smallmouth buffalo for years after he lost a big one that he'd shot with a bow on Perry Lake near Topeka. The smallmouth buffalo is a type of sucker fish that is native to the major tributaries and surrounding waters of the Mississippi River. A common sportfish, they spawn in clear streams between April and June and then move to shallower waters, where they become an easier target for bowfishermen.
Thayne says he has great respect for the fish and credits that buffalo he lost in Perry Lake for turning him into a serious bowfisherman.
The Record Catch
On the night of April 27, Thayne had his smallmouth buffalo redemption when he and a friend, Brad Martin, hit the Clinton Reservoir. After a lot of missed shots and a couple of landed carp, Thayne spotted a big fish, with its back breaking the surface in two feet of water.
Using an Oneida bow with a Muzzy bowfishing reel and a Hercules Long Barb arrow, Thayne shot the fish, making a good hit. The fish took off into the shallows, and with his reel in free spool, Thayne's braided line flew off and wrapped around one of the knobs on his reel handle and broke it. Thayne managed to land the fish anyways, reeling it in close, gaffing it, and then hauling it onto the boat.
He immediately knew he had a big one, though he thought at first that he had caught a grass carp, which has a similar oblong body shape to the smallmouth buffalo. Thayne was ecstatic when he realized he'd actually caught the fish he'd been after for years.
With the potential record-breaker landed, Thayne and Brad called it a night. They packed the fish with ice and took it to a Topeka meat processing plant where it was weight on a certified scale. The smallmouth buffalo measured 45.25 inches with a 35-inch girth and weighed in at 64 pounds, 12 ounces.
Enjoy the outdoors?
Sign up for daily stories delivered straight to your inbox.