Q: What have you learned from tournament fishermen?
Answers are from the Crappie Master staff during the Grenada Lake spring tournament.
Dillon Stocking– “Being able to see all the ways the tournament fishermen catch fish and then using that information to apply it to my fishing, the same as any other fisherman can do. For example, I take the tips from the fisherman from lakes all over the country I apply to my fishing at Truman. One tip when spider rigging use a 3/8-ounce weight and use a light jig below it. Tipped with a minnow, it has more movement than using a heavy jig and has made a big difference in my fishing. Another example is how to use aeration, frozen water and soda bottles for cooling livewells to keep fish alive.
Suzette Valentine– “Every fisherman has a favorite bait and bait color. I’ve learned one of their favorite colors has worked great for me on Truman and other lakes. My favorite is Junebug and the Spike-It 2-inch jig is especially good. I’ve used the jig whether jigging or spider rig trolling. Tipping with Crappie Nibbles or minnows are good.”
Mike Valentine– “Probably the biggest thing is the different presentations. Slow trolling especially. How to adjust depths and presentations at 1.2 or 0.2 mph. Learning different presentations in different water clarities. Water clarity changes are more important than just the clarity during normal conditions. For example, when wind blows across a point or shallow flat and quickly muddies the water it creates an immediate change and will make the bite very difficult. Normally muddy water the same color can be good because that’s the normal clarity they are use to. Baits need to be different in clear and muddy water. A bigger profile in muddy water helps the fish find it.
Making the right adjustment at the right time is usually what determines who wins a tournament. A little change in bait size, area, speed or some little something is often the difference in being successful. So the decisions and adjustments made before and during a fishing usually determines the amount of success.
Kurt Sherman– I’ve learned that bait size is critical and it’s different from lake to lake. In Florida, I’ve seen very small jigs and very small minnows work best. In Mississippi it’s the opposite where a large profile jig and a very large minnow do the best. Speed when spider trolling is important with some saying most of the time they do best at 0.8 mph while others say 0.3 mph. When spider trolling, a lightweight jig under a sinker does better than a heavy one.
Brian Sowers– I came from a bass background so I’ve learned crappie fishing is very different in that you have to be patient. Fishermen must also adapt to different conditions and be knowledgeable in electronics. The biggest tip is to take my time and don’t leave fish too quickly. I’ve seen the result of this many times when a fisherman or team leaves an area too quickly and not give the fish time to bite. Others come into the area and catch fish when they turn on. So I try not to leave one spot I know is holding fish and is a good area, to go to another spot.
Bobby Dale Gastin– When I started working tournaments seven year ago I really didn’t know how to spider rig. I listened and learned how the fishermen work different depths, tie rigs like the double-hook rigs, and the importance of different size weights. Spider rigging takes practice but it really isn’t that hard to do. By watching the top teams this technique is by far what works best on the majority of the lakes. For me it’s more fun watching pole tips than casting or jigging where you have to be working all the time.