Categorized | Opinion

Wind, Rain, and Small Crappie

By Josh Gowan

Jameson Gowan poses with a Wappapello Lake black crappie.

Jameson Gowan poses with a Wappapello Lake black crappie.

Windy, drizzly, September weekends are inevitable, but for us weekend warriors, they’re still a big inconvenience. Fortunately, Saturday morning gave us a window of opportunity before the gloom set in, and myself and a lot of other outdoorsmen took advantage of it.
I had a trip planned to Comb’s Lake in Kennett, Missouri Saturday morning, but a forecast of strong winds out of the south forced a last minute audible. I already had everything prepared, and had convinced my reluctant family to accompany me on a fishing trip, so with the strong south wind, I knew the hills surrounding Wappapello Lake would provide us some protection.
I drug the wife and boy out of bed very early Saturday morning, and after a tall coffee and a juice box, they were in good spirits and ready for an adventure. The dawn hours on “Wap” were beautiful. The Ozark’s towering forests surrounded the calm coves, and the fog was rolling across the water like smoke from a campfire, it was the sort of experience that makes you feel sorry for city folks.
I’ve always held the contention that one of the best things about being a fisherman and a hunter is getting to see this beautiful region from angles that most people never experience. I’m all for travelling the world and seeing the sights, and I have a few on my bucket list, but if you’ve never seen the pre-dawn light spread across the rice fields in early winter, or sat quietly, deep in the woods and experienced nature come to life as if you didn’t exist, or floated down the Mississippi River on a calm, overcast summer day, or watched a sunset over the cypress trees on Reelfoot Lake, and you’ve booked trips to Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon, you are truly selling yourself and this region very short.
We were out on the water at Rockwood Point and picked up a few tips about where to fish. My main source of information on Wappapello Lake was fishing the CrappieMaster’s Classic on Grenada Lake, Mississippi, but I was told the fish were very shallow.
Well, maybe so, but as was my experience the last time I fished Wap, I caught just enough for a fish sandwich! It really is a beautiful place, and the Ozarks are quite a different backdrop than the delta I’m used to fishing in, so I plan to spend more time there and attempt to learn the lake. Fish or no fish, time spent in the outdoors with my family is well worth it!
Back to the CrappieMaster’s Classic down in Mississippi, the fishing was as tough as it’s ever been, with only 8 out of 193 teams bringing in 7 fish limits both days. Slabber Dave Maddox and Jeff Riddle finished 8th, and capped off a heck of a year. With an eighth place finish at the Classic and second overall in points, they were the best all-around team this year. Congrats guys! Another really tough team, Brian Ramm and Jeff Heathcott from Dyersburg finished 7th, congrats!
The fishing over on Kentucky Lake has been phenomenal, especially for bass. The guys over at Kick’n Bass guide service have been filling the boat. They are targeting humps off the main channel and finding schooling fish. Blade baits are working best.
Combs Lake in Kennett, Missouri is a gold mine for local anglers looking for a fish dinner. I spoke to the MDC’s fisheries biologist over the lake, Salvador Mondragon, last week about the current condition of the fishery. He said the stocking programs they’ve been doing for the past decade have taken hold, and the fish are successfully spawning on their own. The crappie in the lake are finally getting some size, but he emphasized the importance of keeping every crappie you catch (up to your 30 fish limit). They are overpopulated and the 6-8 inch fish especially need thinning. The MDC works incredibly hard to make sure we have opportunities afield, so let’s do our part as well. There may not be much meat on 6 inch fish, but they’re easy to catch and fried whole they’re delicious!
I didn’t get any reports from Reelfoot Lake, but the fishing has to be getting better and better with the cool nights. Next weekend is the Arts and Crafts Fair, and they’re expecting around 40,000 people. Always a great time to fish, if you can get to a ramp!
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine, www.joshgowanoutdoors.com

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