By Josh Gowan
The fishing has finally come full circle after our arctic winter and massive shad kill, and there are a ton of fishermen who have had to patiently wait much longer than we’d have liked! Next weekend is supposed to get near 80 degrees, which means the crappie who have been waiting as well, will begin spawning.
Reelfoot lake is on fire right now. The black crappie are spawning in the clear shallows and the guys that know how to find them are filling the coolers. The white crappie have finally migrated out of the deep water and are schooling up around shallower stumps. I’ve seen multiple limits caught in the last few days, and as reported a few weeks back, the shad kill has resulted in really big, heavy fish. The bass have moved into shallow areas chasing baitfish, and the catfish are jumping in the boat!
I talked to Slabber Dave Maddox over at Wappapello Lake and his report was similar to Reelfoot. The crappie are moving up and backing out with the temperatures. They are starting to catch males casting shallow, and he figures the temperatures over the weekend are going to do the same thing at “Wap” as they will at Reelfoot, turn the spawn wide open!
Guess what the report over on Kentucky Lake is?? The catfish are jumping in the boat, the bass are staging getting ready to spawn, and the male crappie are starting to crash the shallows! There are going to be a lot of pictures taken over the next few weeks!
Another fishing buddy of mine, Scott Downing from East Prairie had a heck of a weekend fishing the Crappie.com tournament at Sardis Lake, Miss. with his son, Zach.
The father and son team pre-fished on Friday and found good fish in three foot of water on the east end of the lake. The wind was blowing hard out of the northeast and the boat ride was treacherous. Scott decided to put in on the north side of the dam on tournament morning since the weigh-in was at Engineer’s Point, and he knew the Techville ramp would be extremely crowded on a Saturday.
They launched on Saturday morning before daylight and the northeast wind was already pushing big white-caps across the muddy water. It took 30 minutes of rough riding to get to their spot, but the ride paid off. Legal fishing for the tourney started at 6:30 and they had their seven-fish-limit by 7:30! By 10:30 they had their 30 fish lake limit and started culling smaller fish. Scott said he probably culled 15-20 fish trying to catch a big “kicker” fish.
Most of their fish came on pink Grizzly “Tip-its” (double-hook rigs with gold hooks and pink feather tied on the shank of the hook) and garlic infused Muddy Water plastics in “watermelon” (pink/white/chartreuse). By 1:30 the wind laid and the fishermen headed for the weigh-in.
Their smallest fish 1 pound 11 ounces, and their biggest was 2 pounds 4 ounces. Scott knew they had a good weight, but he also knew that in a tournament, anything can happen, and there was a chance someone would find the big females. The weigh-in began and it didn’t take long for monster stringer of 15.7 lpounds, including two 3+ pound females, to move into first place. Scott and Zach’s stringer weighed 13.95 pounds and they watched nervously as others bought their fish to the scales (no pun intended). Their weight held up and the Missouri boys took home second place!
Scott was thrilled to be able to share this moment with his son Zach. It was Zach’s first tournament experience and won’t be his last, but Scott reminded him that they aren’t always going to be this successful!
The guys fished again on Sunday and limited out by noon. They had a blast fishing the tournament, but Scott reiterated that the best part was spending time with his son on the water. He wanted to thank the companies that sponsor and the guys that host the Mississippi Crappie.com tournaments who were all first class. Congratulations Scott and Zach!
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine, www.joshgowanoutdoors.com