By Josh Gowan
Well, summer has definitely wrapped it’s muggy arms around the neck of the Heartland, but after that abominable winter, I’m making a conscience effort not to complain about the blistering sun, choking humidity, and the late return of everyone’s least favorite member of the culicidae family, the mosquito. So far so good…
Being that I spent my weekend researching an article for Southern Living Magazine I’m working on, I wasn’t able to fish. If you do happen to subscribe to that publication, look for my spread entitled “Yardwork: Being Pushed to the Brink of a Heat Stroke by the Ones you Love…” It’s a great read.
The heat is definitely on, which means the crappie fishing at Reelfoot Lake is getting tougher by the day.
There are however, still fish to be caught early in the morning and late in the evening slow trolling. Lance Mansfield and Jeremy Watkins caught a decent mess pushing minnows and Ol’ Shoot Bank custom jigs in 9 ft. of water right on the bottom, targeting submerged logs. They also caught a ton of catfish who are probably post spawn and starting to actively feed again.
Recently held the monthly Reelfoot Crappie Club tournament and Chippy and I will be there, hopefully with a decent stringer of fish!
Normally we wouldn’t even be crappie fishing over there this time of year because it gets so tough, and I was really excited when I saw the Crappie Club would be holding tournaments every month all year, forcing us to learn more about the summertime bite. For more info on the tournament call Jeff Riddle at 731-446-7554.
I got a report from Tennessee that the backwater and ditches around Reelfoot were getting full of big, long-legged bullfrogs. Missouri’s season opener comes in a week and I’m ready.
Frog hunting is not a vanity sport, and all the UnderArmour RealTree Max-4 in the world won’t improve your chances. If there were ever a time to tuck your jeans inside your boots, this is it!
The most important tactical gear for any serious frogger is simple, light and spear, just like the Romans! I use a 16 ft. aluminum pole with a five prong spear, lovingly named the “Fist of Death” (available at Grizzly Jig!) and a big spotlight. The third and most vital element to a frog hunter, and anyone who wants to spend time near stagnant water in the dark with a spotlight in July, is OFF! I like to spray my clothes down with DEET the day before, use Skin-So-Soft as a base layer, and then lather up in Deep Woods Off! It’s all well worth it for a night of fun and a dinner of fried frog legs! One place were the fishing is great in the summer is Mississippi. My buddy Bill James from over in Miner, Mo., loaded up his grandson, 14 year old Cam King and headed south to Sardis Lake.
The big, southern crappie are fairly abundant, but it takes a special tactic to catch them in the heat of the summer. While the warm water temperature keeps them from actively feeding, they are still predators, and much like a dog can’t help but chase a car, a crappie can’t help but chase a fast-moving bait. Bill was pulling 3 inch Bandit Crankbaits in light and dark colors 100 feet. behind the boat, and had most of his success at 3.1 mph! It’s a shame we can’t use this technique at Reelfoot!
The catfish out on the Mississippi River continue to bite. Justin Berry managed to pull in a few hogs over the weekend, and many smaller fish, drift fishing and bottom bouncing fresh cutbait in deep water near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi.
The Wappapello Crappie Club held their annual adult/youth tournament and Younger and Younger took first
Slabber Dave said he was fishing right beside them in 6-7 ft. of water and although he kept 37 crappie, he couldn’t compete with them! Dave said fish were caught anywhere from 5 feet of water to 30 feet of water, the key was just going slow.
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine, www.joshgowanoutdoors.com