April 24, 2021

From the Tribune’s own services

Wednesday was the diamond anniversary of a Missouri fishing record a Lee’s Summit man wanted to break. He landed some specimens…none of significant proportions.

Kameron “Kam” Eaken, 28, Lee’s Summit, has always set lofty goals. He set a three-point basketball conversion record at Summit Christian Academy. Then he paid off his undergraduate and law-school-student-debt a year after graduating, by starting multiple successful businesses while at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He took time off this week from his two Lee’s Summit-based businesses: Summit Way Realty and Clean Heart Maids, to try and break a six-decade-old largemouth bass fishing fete on Bull Shoals Lake in southern Missouri.

A photo of the late Marvin Bushong, holding his record bass, is etched on his tombstone in a cemetery north of Gainesville, Mo.

Marvin Bushong, Gainesville, Mo., caught the 13-pound, 14-ounce monster-fish (commonly known as a “black-bass”) on April 21, 1961. Mike Bushong, 68, Gainesville, son of the record-holder, led Eaken to the exact-location his father caught the record 60 years prior. Many anglers have, through the years, speculated that the female may have traveled from the southern reaches of the lake in Arkansas to spawn just inside Missouri. Fish tend to grow larger in southern lakes because their dormant-feeding-season is shorter.

The story of the Bushong-struggle has been published and broadcast many times over the decades. His fishing reel was falling off his pole and he had to hand-retrieve the line, lure and lunker, and then reach down to grab the fish by the mouth.

If Bushong had caught his bass in Arkansas, it would not have set a record. Paul Crowder of Forrest City, Ark., caught a 16-ounce, 5-ounce largemouth on Lake Dunn near Wynne. It was only an ounce larger than the previous record, which had stood 36 years.

Bushong’s fish first weighed 14 pounds at the Pontiac Cove Marina, but was kept on ice many hours before conservation officials were able to assess it. It was full of eggs, and Mike Bushong believes it was possibly attempting to move the black, deep-diving spinnerbait from its spawning bed.

Bushong doesn’t broadcast the exact-spot (shown here) on a pea-gravel-bank, but he took Eaken there in an attempt to chase his father’s record.

Eaken and Mike Bushong together, made hundreds of casts for several days before and on the anniversary chasing the record. However, they caught many smaller fish in the process. Bushong fondly recalled the now-legendary-story, but added, sadly, that his father wasn’t able to pursue his favorite past-time long. He suffered an apparent heart-attack at only 44- years-of-age while angling with a trot-line on another White-River-chain lake (Norfork) in Arkansas.

Mike Bushong admires the trophy, which hangs on the wall of the Century Bank, Gainesville.

The younger Bushong surmises that the popularity of fishing and heavy lake-fishing- pressure from tournaments, among other things, have likely resulted in the harvest of most fish that could have otherwise grown to large proportions. He discussed the issue Monday with a friend, Ray Grishom, Gainesville, who also regularly fishes on Bull Shoals. He insisted the record won’t be broken.

One of Eaken’s goals was to play college basketball. Injuries, including two ACL knee injuries, caused him to lose some scholarship offers. “However, God had a higher purpose for my life,” he said. “Pursing fish is fun, but Jesus called me to also be a fisher of men.” His maid-service, which his mother, Tina, co-owns and manages, frequently provides no-charge-cleaning for women receiving chemotherapy treatment, partnering with a non-profit organization called Cleaning for a Reason.