By Josh McGowan
Don’t worry, I’m not doing an in-depth analysis of why your NCAA bracket is in shambles. If you want to know how to pick a perfect bracket, read the rest of the sports section, or do like me, and don’t start filling it out until after the first few rounds are over! My “March Madness” is due to the fact that I am again writing a springtime column while under a Winter Weather Advisory. I’m no scientist and don’t claim to be, but I have to tell you, this Global Warming is really confusing! But alas, spring or no spring, the show must go on!
I have no personal report, and I apologize for that, but working at the biggest crappie store on Earth has one glaring drawback, we are extremely busy during the early spring, and I’m saving my time for upcoming tournaments. Fortunately, my network of outdoorsfolk are out there on the job and providing reports while I ship orders to the fishermen of the world!
Reelfoot Lake is still turning out some great stringers of crappie, regardless of the weather. The difference the weather is making is in how the fish are being caught. Generally this time of year, we’re already vertical jig fishing shallow trees and lily pad stems, but the cold nights are keeping fish backed out of the structure. I’ve had a few reports of people catching black crappie jigging, but these were on those rare warm days and in the afternoon after the sun had been on the water all day. The cold nights are keeping the fish on or near the bottom, regardless of the depth of water. The best way to catch fish is still spider-rigging the south end of the lake fishing pink and chartreuse, tipped with minnows near or on the bottom.
Using a double hooked rig is important right now because of the fish laying on the bottom. When they move up in the water column, they all move up in the water column, and fishing under crappie is pointless. If you catch fish all morning on the bottom hook, but suddenly began to catch them on the top, it’s time to shallow your rigs some.
Kentucky Lake is near winter pool and the crappie fishing over there has been great. Fish are trying to move to shallower areas in the coves but really need warmer weather. The best fishing has been over submerged structure in 12-8 ft of water, and the best color has been chartreuse.
I talked to Slabber Dave over on Wappapello Lake and he said they’re in the same boat as us, wishing for warmer waters. Guys have been catching fish 5-8 ft deep, spider-rigging live bait. He said the recent rains have muddied up the lake and the best water is deep in the back of Asher and Lost Creek, where it’s clearing up. Last week the Wappapello Crappie Club held their March tourney, and 9.98 lbs in 7 fish won. The top 4 places paid out and all had 9+ lbs of fish. The winners fished out in front of Sundowner Marina to the mouth of Possum Creek. The lake is at summer pool but falling.
The CrappieMaster’s Alabama State Championship was this past weekend, and the B’n’M Pro Staffers cleaned house winning the top three spots. Sipes and Sipes won with 27.28 pounds in 14 fish at the two day event. My buddies and possibly the hottest team in crappie fishing, Shoenherr and Neuhaus, took second with 26.87 pounds, and the KVD’s of crappie fishing, Capps and Coleman took third with 26.35 pounds. Congrats guys those are some huge weights from an awesome fishery.
A few weeks ago, Kentucky Lake held the first ever freshwater commercial fishing tournament for Asian carp. Everyone knows about the high-flying, algae eating, invasive species by now, and as someone whose received three stitches from flying carp during a non-commercial fishing tournament, I despise these fish. The big boys put out their nets and caught 83,000 pounds of Asian carp! The winner, Barry Mann, won $10,000.00 for his haul of 28,670 pounds of fish! It may be just a small dent in the population, but I sure appreciate it!
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine, 573-579-0212, www.joshgowanoutdoors.com