Categorized | Opinion

Tournament Woes

By Josh Gowan

The eight-time national champions Steve Coleman and Ronnie Capps pose with a few of their seven-fish winning stringer from the Reelfoot Lake CrappieMaster's Tournament.

The eight-time national champions Steve Coleman and Ronnie Capps pose with a few of their seven-fish winning stringer from the Reelfoot Lake CrappieMaster’s Tournament.

Well, the bulk of the crappie tournament season is over for me, and not a moment too soon, as the only thing plummeting faster than my confidence was my bank account (by the way, my book is still for sale on my website, so far the profits have covered 2 pounds of minnows)! 2014 will go down as the “Year of the Whoopin’s” for Chippy and I, but hey, you can’t always be the winner, and sometimes you can’t make the top 40 out of 55 teams on your home lake…
I could sit here and write excuses all night, I could blame Chippy for not wearing his lucky shirt, I could blame the folks constantly shocking the shallow fish all over the lake where I was trying to jig fish through the week, I’m sure the barometer played a detrimental hand in it, and so on and so on. The moral of the story is we didn’t catch ‘em, and a lot of other folks did.
I pre-fished Wednesday and Thursday from 3pm-dark, and spent the entire time unsuccessfully jig fishing. Unable to get off on Friday, we simply deduced that our best plan of action was to start at the “Honey Hole” on Saturday morning, as it was about the only unmolested water on the lake, and has been good to us in the past.
We pulled into the shallow open water with no one around and I threw a few marker buoys on our favorite GPS dots, and at 6:30 we dropped 8 poles rigged with double minnow rigs and pink jig heads, and within 15 minutes Chippy put 4 drum in the boat… I’ve never seen anyone so in-tune to the bite, he was “on ‘em”, and throughout the day landed around 20 drum, with at least 4 of them being trophy class. Unfortunately, drum was not the target species. I did pick up a few crappie, and the first one was a big, 1.75 pound female. During Chippy’s escapades with the drum, we apparently knocked our 13 foot tournament net from its perch, and when he went to net my big crappie it was tangled in the hook on the end of a 12 foot jig pole. The struggle was fast and loud, but without a better option, he swung the net (the handle is in between us and the hoop is at the back of the boat) 180 degrees above our heads and down under the fish, swinging the jig pole with it!
We caught another big fish, and a couple of decent fish we hoped to cull later. The fish were on the sparsely scattered stumps and logs in our shallow honey-hole, and I decided it would be best to make a long scan with the depth finder, and mark a bunch of the wood and troll back through them. We threw 10 buoy markers (most of which were homemade on the spot with 3-inch bobbers, 5 feet of line, and a ½ ounce egg sinker) down a 100 ydard stretch. We turned around and put the poles out, and while approaching the first marker, heard thunder in the background. A quick look at the radar showed a small but strong cell bearing down on us. Opting not to get caught in another thunderstorm we headed in for cover, and after 30 minutes the sun came out bright and hot, and we never caught another crappie…
Eight-time National Champions Ronnie Capps and Steve Coleman won with 10.43 with their 7-fish stringer. Wade Hendren and Roy Logan took 2nd, and Jackie VanCleave and Tim Blackley took 3rd. All of these guys call Reelfoot Lake their home lake. It was a great tournament and had a big turnout at the weigh-in, bringing a lot of excitement and extra money to the area.
It’s getting hot out and that means it’s time to dig out the catfish poles and go after some whiskers! Everything from cut-bait, worms, stink bait, and hotdogs can be used to bring in these hard-fighting fish. They are also the most abundant and easy to catch fish in our area and a perfect target for kids.
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine, www.joshgowanoutdoors.com

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