Categorized | Opinion

Back on the Water

By Josh Gowan

Josh Gowan taking off on a cold morning at an icy Reelfoot Lake.

Josh Gowan taking off on a cold morning at an icy Reelfoot Lake.

Finally, enough ice melted for Chippy and I to find a ramp open and get back out on Reelfoot for the first time this year. As is the case with the first trip of the year, it was not without challenges! I was amazed to see the amount of crazy’s at the carwash on Saturday shining their vehicles in 30 degree weather, absolutely nuts, I had to wait forever to get my boat in there…
First things first, I had to prepare for the Sunday trip, and being a poor writer without proper housing for my boat, that meant removing the tarp which was still covered in five inches of ice, as it had been for over a month. Fortunately everything looked to be in order, and I began the task of emptying out the boat. The 20 poles, tackle bags, trolling racks, various tools, and an errant iced honey bun were all fairly easy to pry up, but Chippy left his net laying in the bottom of the boat, and it was frozen in a few inches of ice. My drain hole was froze solid with a nice icicle hanging from it, and there was a big block of ice encapsulating my bilge and aerator pumps, these are the perils of not having a big shop!
I boiled water all day and took a little at a time out and dumped on the ice, I pulled on Chippy’s net and after a while, with a little elbow grease, I managed to get it out, with a softball sized hole in it! I put my “Mr. Buddy” propane heater under the drain hole and took my wife’s hair dryer to the top side, that along with occasionally pouring boiling water on the ice block, I managed to get it mostly thawed in about an hour. That was the end of the easy part…
The onboard charger was glowing red on both trolling batteries, which meant no connection, so I removed, cleaned, and checked every fuse and wire without any success. It turned out to be the worst case scenario, two bad batteries, so off to Walmart I went, where I got to stand in line at the automotive area behind people with shopping carts full of non-automotive stuff who were clearly disregarding the “20 items or less” sign.
After all that it was quite dark and I moved inside to re-spool new poles and reels and organize my tackle box and so-on, which was not without issues but we’ll move on.
We arrived late due to circumstances beyond my control and I realized that I’d left my sunglasses at home. The fourth store I stopped at had some very nice “Top Gun” style shades for $4, and we were at Champy’s Pocket by 8 a.m.
There was no ice on the ramp or in the immediate vicinity, and we enjoyed a beautiful morning slow-trolling around the ice sheets. Then around 9:30, the 3-6 mph wind that was predicted morphed into a steady 15-20, and with two 50 inch wind socks and my small chain I was still moving way to fast. We never got a bite, and neither did the other couple of boats we talked to, but it was nice to get back on the water and get everything operational again!
My buddies the Jackson brothers, Perry and Randy, kept 60 crappie on Friday and 40 on Sunday at Wappapello, casting into shad schools and working stinger style jigs really aggressively to get the fish to bite.
How we communicate and receive information is rapidly changing, and the outdoor industry is rolling right along with the changes. My friend Wally Marshall, or “Mr. Crappie”, has made a living promoting the sport he loves and bringing new products to the crappie fishing industry. One of his new marketing masterpieces is, which is an awesome website that invites you to sign up, and they will send you a weekly newsletter with the six biggest crappie stories of the week. It is not driven to any particular product and not a sales pitch at all, just awesome stories, pictures, and videos from the week in crappie fishing, and I really enjoy it.
Social media is simultaneously awesome and a pain in the rump, but it’s affective and necessary for what I do, so if this weekly column does not satisfy your need to know what I’m up to and you want to follow me on a daily basis, I’m on Facebook at, Twitter @joshmgowan, and Instagram at joshmgowan, fishing and hunting videos at, and of course back-issues of this column are on my website at If you really want a peak into a strange world, follow Chippy on Twitter @joshuachipman!
I’m seeking business sponsors for this upcoming year, so if you’re interested in supporting some outdoor endeavors, shoot me an email at!
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine,

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February 2014
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