By Josh Gowan
Another beautiful weekend in the heartland, and according to my facebook feed the lowly old outdoors writer may be the only person that didn’t go catch any fish! There’s been some talk that I may have joined Angler’s Anonymous, but it’s not true, I’m still a working fishaholic, and the second my boat’s out of the shop I’ll be back delivering first hand reports. Until then however, I have to live vicariously through my outdoor cohorts across the region.
The heat is on, and the humidity is setting firmly on top of it, but the fish are still biting in a lot of area lakes. Catfishing is always great around here in the summer, but the crappie can get tough. There’s one place however, a few hours south of the region that gets extremely good when it gets too hot to breathe, and a lot of folks from around here make the drive to take advantage of it. Mississippi’s “Big Four”, Sardis, Enid, Arkabutla, and Grenada are the collective birthplace for a style of fishing called “pullin’ cranks”.
The tactic is simple in theory, fan out six poles across the back of the boat with Bandit 300 series crankbaits (generally black and pink are good colors), let out 100 to 150 feet of line, and set your speed to around 1.5 mph. The guys that live down there and practice this technique a lot use electric drive trolling motors that are operated by a remote control.
Most of us “one poler’s” have cable drive motors, and have to make an adjustment to maintain speed and direction. By taking your spider-rig racks and turning them sideways, and using pole lengths in four foot increments (I use 8’s, 12’s, and 16’s) you can pull from the front of the boat. Another trick is to tighten the tension screw on the foot pedal to hold your direction better. 1.5 mph may not seem like much, but it creates a nice breeze and covers a ton of area. In the last few weeks, the fishing at Sardis and Enid in north Mississippi has been unbelievable, and pulling cranks is the best method to filling a summertime livewell.
Over on Wappapello Lake in southeast Missouri, the Crappie Club held a “Jack and Jill” tournament over the weekend. Bruce Christian and his wife won the tourney with 7.65 pounds in seven crappie. They were slow trolling in 12 feet of water, fishing 4 feet deep, but Slabber Dave Maddox said most of the field was fishing 10-12 feet in 14+ feet of water. Pushing minnows and roadrunners were the dominant presentations. He said the catfish are still tearing it up, and he’s been selling a ton of rice slicks and night crawlers. The water is one foot over summer pool with good clarity.
Reelfoot has been Reelfoot, it gets hot, and the crappie reports grind to a halt. The bream fishing has been good in the scattered pads and shallow trees, and they will be back on the bed by the time most of you read this, following the full moon. The catfishing is so good at the lake, it’s just ridiculous. I’ve seen stringers with 40 to 50 cats in a days’ worth of fishing. Stink bait has still been the ticket and will remain to be throughout the summer.
Believe it or not, this is when hardcore bowhunters really begin practicing for the upcoming season. Speaking from experiences I’ll never write about, missing a big deer is a tough thing to get over, and while there are no guarantees and perfection is rarely accomplished, practice still helps a ton.
I went down to Rector, Arkansas to Wilson Outdoors this past week to get acquainted with the owner Gregg Wilson and a new bow from Elite Archery, the Answer. The technology has come a country mile in bow hunting, and I was blown away by the Answer. I pulled the bow back for the first time, and the ease of pulling 65 pounds paired with the let-off was unreal. I can hold this bow at full draw forever! Elite’s main selling point is “shootability”, and it’s obvious when you shoot one, it’s the smoothest, quietest bow I’ve ever shot, and I can’t wait to get it in the woods! Rector is right on the other side of Kennett, Missouri and the Wilson’s will take care of you, give them a call at 870-783-2226, and go shoot an Elite!
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine, www.joshgowanoutdoors.com