The American Crappie Trail visits Ouachita River
Father & Son Team Wins
Story & photos by Ron Wong
Despite rising water levels, the father/son team of Terry and Cole Stewart wins the American Crappie Trail tournament on the Ouachita River out of Monroe, Louisiana. They won the tournament wire to wire in some very hot weather and adverse fishing conditions. During their practice days (Monday through Wednesday), they found only a few fish but of decent size. They made the decision to fish Bayou D’Arbonne way north of Monroe because of the few good fish found in the area. Using 16-foot B’n’M trolling rods rigged with double minnow rigs, they had an excellent first day weighing in a little over 12 pounds. When they arrived in the area for the second day, they noticed the water had risen about a foot from the day before and the bite much slower with smaller fish. However, they decided to stay with the area and chose to fish a little slower to catch fish. All of the fish they caught were 3 to 5 feet deep using small minnows.
Terry said, “the crappie would only bump larger minnows and the small ones caught the best fish”. Terry also said, “Using three Minn-Kota trolling motors (one mounted in front and two on the transom) was key to the win”. When fishing cover, if they got hung on cover, they could use the rear trolling motors to pull back to get unhung. Also, they used the rear trolling motors to push their spider rigs so as not to spook the shallow fish with the front motor. Terry and Cole have been fishing tournaments together since 2009 and are members of the Magnolia Crappie Club.
Second place went to the team of Tim Blackley and Paul Turner. They fished in an oxbow just off the Ouachita river using B’n’M BGJP 16 foot rods rigged with Strike King 1/8th ounce jigs using orange/chartreuse glow colored Jokers tipped with a small minnow. They fished 4 feet deep over 7-8 feet of water. Some of their fish also came on a Capps & Coleman double minnow rigged fished at the same depth. Tim said, “Because of the water rising over 2 feet between Friday and Saturday in their area, the biting fish on Saturday were only the smaller fish”.
Third place went to Kent Driscoll and John Harrison. They rose from a 27th place finish on day one to place 3rd. They fished 2 areas well north of Monroe, with one area in the river and the other in a shallow bay. When fishing in the river, they spider rigged 16 foot B’n’M BGJP rods using a Capps & Coleman double minnow rig 15 feet deep on a bend in the river. When fishing in a shallow bay, they used Mid-south black/chartreuse crappie tubes tipped with small minnows fishing 4 feet deep. Kent said, “Fishing slower on the second day was the key to getting the better bites”.
A couple of common elements were incurred by the top finishing teams. The top teams fished in areas that had no other competitors. They all said that was important to catch the larger fish. They all also said that it was important to stay focused and not get frustrated by the amount of gar that were caught causing havoc with gear and time.