Finally, spring is upon us. I fished in a short sleeved shirt for a while on Saturday, and it was just as good as I remember it! It was just in time too, I was trying to secure funding for a trip to Punxsutawney, where I intended to run a water hose down a groundhog hole and stand at the other end with a shotgun! Just because the weather warmed up though doesnt necessarily mean the fishing got better, at least not for us.
Now Chippy and I had our own fish to find for a local tournament we fish every year. Chippy fished all day on Friday, on what was probably the prettiest day of the year, and didnt find too many fish. The couple big fish he caught were in the same shallow area we caught fish in last week, so that was our plan. I mean, you just need seven fish, how difficult is it to catch seven fish for a couple salty veterans like ourselves? The tournament started at 6am, so we rode out into the lake by moonlight, with Chippy shining a flashlight looking for stumps. We were using the same baits that have been working for us, 1/4 oz pink jig heads with glow chartreuse LakeFork Boot Tail jigs, tipped with a nibble. We put our jigs in the water at 6:01, and by 6:30 had two big female crappie. We were excited about the good start, but that excitement soon turned to dismay and frustration. For the next six hours we had exactly three more bites, and caught three more fish! It was pitiful. Had we known the high winds would hold off as long as they did, wed have rode out to the deep water where 10 inch crappie were abundant and at least finished our seven fish limit, but hindsights 20/20. Our first big female weighed 1 lb 11 oz and won the Big Fish trophy and a little walking around money. My friends from Caruthersville, Larry and his son Jerry Don Hayes won the tournament. There was an additional prize for biggest trash fish, which consisted of any fish that wasnt a crappie, and it was a blowout! Mark Murakami from Cape Girardeau caught a 6 lb 12 oz largemouth bass on an ultra-light crappie pole, it was a pig! The crappie are moving into the trees at Reelfoot, its about to be jigging time! Go to to watch the video.
I called my buddy Slabber Dave Maddox to both get a Wappapello report and console him. Dave loves to tournament fish like me, and his partner Jeff Riddle, a guide on Reelfoot Lake, were at Grenada Lake, Ms for the CrappieMasters tournament over the weekend. After day one of the two day event, Dave and Jeff were leading the 116 boat field with over 17 lbs! On the way to the weigh-in on Saturday Jeff was getting the fish out, and one of their biggest fish died. You cant weigh dead fish, and losing that one knocked them down a few spots to 8th place. Still a heck of a finish. Dave said the crappie at Wap are right on the verge of spawning, and fishermen are buying him out of rosy red minnows. There are a ton of people lining the bank below the dam pulling in crappie, and it wont be long before theyre up on the bank!
My buddies over at Kickn Bass have been hot on the crappie over the last week. Theyve been catching fish moving towards shallow structure, as well as slow trolling and spider-rigging over the flats. I cant wait to get back on the water! . . . . . . .
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By Josh Gowan
Happy belated Easter! Last week was a tough time to work in a fishing store, apparently every person with a push-button reel and an opposable thumb caught a limit of crappie last Thursday! To say I had the itch would be a mild understatement, and with Saturday off, Chippy and I were setting on go! The cold start to spring has irritated fishermen, but the fish dont seem to care, and some of our local catfishermen where out on the Tennessee River catching some big blues, so lets get to it!
With the fishing report from the last few days at Reelfoot, and a partly sunny weather report with temps starting in the low 50s and getting up to 65, we were extremely excited about our chances for hammerin em on Saturday! My alarm went off at 4:10 am Saturday morning and I rolled over and hit the weather app on my phone to find a dense fog advisory until 10 am I guess fog is the sort of thing you cant predict, along with temperature and wind speed! So at 50 mph on the interstate, I was already late getting to Portageville to meet up with Chippy. When we hooked up my boat to his truck, the trailer lights didnt work, which would be a problem in the dark and dense fog! After a quick check of the wiring, I recalled dealing with this problem before, especially when everything is wet. A wet plug will short out a 15 amp fuse, and after popping the hood and finding the culprit, we were on our way. We didnt have a spare fuse, so we disabled the Back Window Wash, I mean seriously, who needs an automatic back window washer?
We still managed to get on the water by 7:00 and the fog was thick. We hung close to the bank on our way to our shallow water honey hole. Unfortunately our honey hole had lost its sweetness, and we never got a bite fishing shallow. We eased out into seven foot of water and picked up a couple over the next few hours, but it was slow. I had a lot of friends on the lake, and they were catching fish out in the deep water off Green Island Point, so we made the long, slow trek across the lake and joined the fleet of boats out from Grooms Pocket, not my preferred fishing tactic! We caught a couple fish and then the rain started. We mistakenly dressed according to the forecast, and were already cold, and didnt figure getting drenched would help much. We crossed the lake again back towards the ramp, and the steady sprinkle was bearable, so we put the poles back out and the crappie finally turned on for us. We caught 18 fish in the last hour, with some really big ones to boot, and called it a day. We were fishing 1/4 oz chartreuse jig heads with the new LakeFork Boot Tail in pink and chartreuse. We managed to get some pretty good video which is up at
Chris Stephens, Jeremy Burns and his son Brandon, and Jason Aycock and his son Carson went to the Tennessee River Saturday morning after big blue catfish. They started at the New Johnsonville Steam Plant, a cove off the river with hot water discharges from the plant. The warmer water in the cove keeps the skipjack, Stephens preferred catfish bait, in the cove during the cooler weather. They used three 1 1/2 inch, white curly-tails on 1/8 oz jigheads, and the bait was plentiful! Across from New Johnsonville is Camden, Tennessee, where a big ledge drops from 17 ft to 50 ft into the main river channel. At the drop, there are big boulders, five to six ft tall on the bottom. This structure held big cats in the strong currents, and is why Chris likes fishing the area. They cut the fresh skipjak up and hooked them on 8/0 Gamakatsu hooks with 8 ounce sinkers! Thats a big weight, but necessary to hold in the swift current. The two boats landed near 20 catfish and a ton of skipjack, the biggest two catfish went 49 and 50 lbs! The guys let the kids reel in every fish, and even in the rain and cold, they had enough to keep the kids interested and having a blast. Great job guys! . . . . . . .