Categorized | Opinion

Fishing with the Family

By Josh Gowan

Justin Berry and Hunter Jones from East Prairie, Mo., pose with a couple of big Mississippi River blue catfish.

Justin Berry and Hunter Jones from East Prairie, Mo., pose with a couple of big Mississippi River blue catfish.

Another beautiful weekend in the Heartland and a lot of folks were out soaking up the sun. After finding a few fish last weekend, and as dismal as the late spring fishing was, I was chomping at the bit to get back to Reelfoot and chase some more specks!
I loaded up the wife, boy, and dog early Saturday morning and headed to the lake. We stopped in at Reelfoot Outdoors because I had to drop off a prop, and although I work in an enormous tackle store, and have more tackle than some small bait shops, I still found a few things I needed!
We got out on the lake around 10 a.m., and much to my surprise and enjoyment, my crappie were right where I left them! We caught around 20 by 1:30 when the family had had all of the heat they could take, and I was forced to leave “biting fish”. After a bit of lounging around in the air conditioner and eating, we got back out on the lake around 5pm as the clouds were moving in and the temperature was dropping. I had high hopes for the evening, but the fish did not cooperate, and during “prime time” I never got so much as a nibble.
I’ve written before about the fact that my 9-year-old son is an unwilling participant on fishing trips. It is my fault for burning him out when he was younger.
I didn’t know any better, and we spent nearly every weekend on the water from the time he was age 4 to 7. Now while if asked if he wants to go fishing, he will always say no, he’s still a pretty good sport when we force him to go, and takes full advantage of one of the best places on earth to take a nap!
Friday night there was a massive wooly hatch. “Wooly” I am quite sure is not the scientific name for the bug, but it is all I’ve ever heard them called. They are the mosquito’s doppelganger, but do not bite, and emerge in biblical proportions from the cypress trees, eventually falling to the water where they are consumed by everything from blackbirds to catfish.
As we eased down the cypress laden shore and around a dilapidated dock, there were an unusually large amount of woolies on the perfectly calm water, and I wasn’t the only one that noticed. You could hear “blurp, blurp, blurp” all over the living room sized area, as a feeding frenzy took place. This is the Holy Grail to a panfisherman, and even better for one with a 9-year-old on board! I already had a pole with a small bobber and a tiny, 1/80 oz. Grizzly Jig in a natural brown color matching the bugs tied on, I tipped it with a Berkley Honey Worm (anything would have worked, but I’m fond of them) and instructed my son to get ready. He lumbered up from the bench seat and joined me on the deck, with a look that said “I don’t want to fish, but I know if I complain I’ll get in trouble, so what do I have to do.” I pitched the jig over in the middle of the bugs and handed him the rod.
The bobber never had time to settle, and after catching 4 bream and a bass in less than 5 minutes, the wind blew us into the area and the fish scattered. He declared himself the “bream master” and was grinning ear to ear! I got excited seeing the fire in his eyes, and told him I thought I could see another spot up ahead and that he could catch more, and he said “naw, I caught some fish, I’m gonna take a nap”…
I talked to Slabber Dave Maddox over at Wappapello Lake and he said the fishing has been good. The crappie are on ledges off the channels in 10-12 ft. of water, and slow-trolling pushing minnows has been the ticket. I may slip over to Wap in the next few weeks and do a little fishing myself!
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine, www.joshgowanoutdoors.com

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