Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Joy of Crappie Fishing

My Zebco spincast reel was not in very good shape.  The line was old and full of memory.  Turning the reel handle was a chore, and casting was even worse.  Our tackle selection was pitiful, with a handful of rusty spoons and spinners, a few split shot, and some snelled Eagle Claw hooks.  The hooks were about the only items in my rusty tackle box that were in any decent shape at all.  At least they were sharp.

After tying a hook on to my fishing line, my Dad threaded an angleworm on my hook. He spent an hour looking for them in our back yard before we left for our fishing adventure.  I didn't have a bobber in my box, so my Dad improvised by tying a thick piece of a stick on my line to use as a float.  We were ready to fish.

Since my rod and reel combo wouldn't cast but a few feet, my Dad peeled off about thirty feet of line, and swung the stick, bait and hook in a circular motion, like David winding up a sling to defeat Goliath.  With a skilled release, my Dad launched the stick and bait out into the lake.  My stick bobber and worm splashed down just far enough to reach the drop off to deeper water about twenty feet away.

My Dad reeled up the coiled slack line as much as possible and handed the rod back to me.  It didn't take long for my stick to twitch and slowly submerge.  My Dad yelled, "Kevin, give the rod a big yank", to set the hook, of course.  I listened to his advice and set the hook into a fish.  After a short fight, I landed my first largemouth bass at the young age of eight years old.

My Dad wasn't much of an outdoorsman, not caring for hunting and fishing at all, preferring golf and bowling as his hobbies.  But one thing that I'll never forget was him taking the time to take me fishing, not only that day, but many other days.  And for him, that was a labor of love.  We didn't know what we were doing and lacked good fishing tackle.  But, he fished the only way that he knew how, as he did as a youngster from a family with very little money in rural Colorado fishing for trout and bluegills.

After catching that twelve inch bass, it took the rest of the year for that smile to wear off my face.  My Dad was my hero.

So when I took my good friend Bob and his Son, Carson, to a tidal river crappie honey hole last weekend, the thought of helping to put a smile on Carson's face brought back that memory of my Dad.
Bob and Carson fishing out of their Riverpro LoPro inboard jet boat.  Bob's equipment, boat and tackle and lures are much more advanced than anything my Dad had, but both he and my Dad were successful in the same way, putting a smile on their son's face and memories that would last a lifetime.
When the crappie bite is on, there aren't many kinds of fishing that can be as fun as landing a mess of fat slab crappie.  And this day would live up to our hopes because the bite was on.  At first, we tossed jigs rigged with Mann's Stingray Grubs, dabbed with a bit of Smelly Jelly, as crappie hit them on the fall.  And, if that didn't work, they'd hit a slowly hopped jig right off the bottom worked back to the boat.
Slab crappie like these fell for the Mann's Stingray Grub teamed with a 1/8 ounce jighead, smeared with Smelly Jelly fish attractant, a pattern and tip provided by Gene Mueller.  Click here to check out Gene's website: "Gene Mueller's World of Fishing & Hunting".
When that bite slowed, Bob figured out that a jig with more of an action tail might pick up more of the suspended crappie, and his hunch proved correct.  Swimming a curly tail Bass Pro Shops Tripple Ripple Grub with a slow straight retrieve provoked one strike after another.  Bob had the hot hand, landing well over 120 crappie that day, and Carson wasn't far behind in his numbers.
Carson, with Dad looking on, posing with a monster crappie that fell for a Tripple Ripple Grub.  The smile on Carson's face says it all...The joy of crappie fishing with Dad.
I don't know what occurred more, comments like, "Got another one" and "Look how fat this slab is," or the giddy giggles of an eight year old child fishing prodigy, or similar child like giggles from his Dad, as they boated one slab papermouth after another.  I'm convinced that God put crappie on this earth for the sole purpose of bonding with your boy.
I'm sure that God, in his master plan, gave us crappie with the sole purpose of making father/son memories like these.
I personally have had countless good crappie fishing days over the years.  It's so fun that even experienced adult anglers often act like giddy kids when the bite is on.  This day was no different.  But Bob hadn't had much experience with crappie in the past.  He had been intrigued by them and, after reading my last crappie blog post (Fall Slab Crappie), had asked me to put him and his boy on some crappie.  After two hours, Bob had already caught more crappie than he had his entire life.  So, who had the most fun, the Son or the Dad?
After catching crappie after crappie all day long, it was harder to tell who had the most fun, Carson or his Daddy!
Not only did they have fun, but so did I.  I caught a mess of fish too including a bunch of crappie and eighteen largemouth bass (although they could have been bigger), which is fun enough.  But even more fun was seeing my friend and his boy with smiles so large and often that they might stick on their face for some time.  I really enjoyed that.  Like my Dad was to me, Bob is Carson's hero.
Just look at the smile on this boys face, and you can see the positive effect that slab crappie fishing can have on a youngster.  And that's a fine crappie for anyone to catch, much less an eight your old boy.
So really, for a fall fishing trip, if you want to make someone happy, take them out for some slab crappie.  And if you have a child that might have the slightest interest in fishing, be a hero like my Dad or Bob is to Carson, and take your kid crappie fishing.  You might wind up with just as big a smile on your face when all is said and done.  Ahhhh...The joy of crappie fishing!

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