By Josh McGowan
I always answer the question, “What’s your favorite time of year?”, with the answer, “depends on when you ask.” Every season in our beautiful part of the world has its advantages, but it is tough to dispute springtime!
With more fishermen getting out and enjoying the water and the spawn, hunting season getting going with turkey and squirrell, and BBQ grills and tiki torches getting lit for the first time in months, it’s a great time to be outside.
Not to mention baseball firing up (how about those Cardinals!) and gardens going in, spring is truly a season of new beginnings, and is without a doubt my personal favorite…until fall!
The full moon is coming and marks the end of the crappie spawn for most areas, there are still fish being caught shallow on structure, but by the time most of you read this they will be making there way out the same way they came in. Post-spawn fishing for crappie can be tough, but if you focus on the same areas that held fish before the spawn and slow your presentation, you can still catch some decent stringers.
The hottest fishing in the area right now is definitely blue gill and redear. After a mediocre year last year, they’ve made a big comeback all over the heartland. The full moon that’s coming will bring on the first big spawn of the year for the feisty panfish.
Lakes like Reelfoot, Mallard, and Duck Creek where structure is abundant have already turned out some cooler’s full. The best way to find beds in these shallow water lakes is to fish/search a lot.
Look for areas in between the bank and the lily pads that are void of vegetation, and always keep an eye out for the classic tell-tale sign, small bubbles. Now as someone who’s pitched a jig at a million sets of bubbles, I can tell you that most bubbles are turtles wallowing in the mud, gar fighting over territory, or Asian carp practicing their English, and not a bream bed. However, if you’re lucky enough to find that Holy Grail of panfishing, it’s something you never forget (the experience that is, not necessarily the spot!)
If you’d like to try it and have no idea where to start, call Grizzly Jig and order the DVD “Grizzly Fishing”, which shows exactly how to go about catching bream and searching for beds by the guy who literally wrote the book on it, Louie Mansfield.
The catfishing in the backwaters of the Mississippi River has just been unbelievable, and when the river gets out of the holes behind the levee, there is sure to be some great summertime fishing for all species, but especially crappie.
The guys that are able to get a boat in the water have been running trotlines with skipjack or shad and are loading the freezer with fish. The bank fishermen are throwing the same bait, along with stink bait and are doing pretty well themselves. I hope to have the opportunity to go after some big blue’s myself this weekend.
Squirrell hunting opens the 25th in Missouri and the 11th in Tennessee, and while this sport is not as popular as it once was, it is still a lot of fun and a great way to introduce kids to hunting.
There is a ton to see in the woods right now, and if you’re in the hills you can also look for one of nature’s delicacies, morel mushrooms, as well as antler sheds the mice and squirrells haven’t got to yet. Make sure and spray down with bug repellent and watch for snakes!
This weekend I’ll be just off of hwy 25 in Grandview Acres, right outside of Jackson, Mo. peddling merchandise at the world-renowned 100 Mile Yard Sale! This year’s feature product will be a ton of discount boat seats I’m unloading for work, along with miscellaneous fishing equipment, the outcasts of four closets and a storage room, and a half-million Legos! Come see me!
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine, 573-579-0212