Muscle Shoals, Alabama crappie guide Brad Whitehead was on his way to a pre-holiday catfishing trip with his son, Nathan, when we asked him what he had planned for the upcoming year.
“More of this,” said Whitehead, handing over a photo that was taken this past summer. “Nathan is getting to the age where he loves to go hunting and fishing. He’s pretty amazing for a kid. I can take him out in the boat for an all day trip and he never gets tired. And you know what else? He’s a heck of a good fisherman for someone his age. He’s even got a couple of fishing rods that are just his and we go out fishing every chance we get. That’s what I’m looking forward to this coming year and in the years to follow is to be able to get out on the water with him and his little brother and just go fishing.”
Pro-staff manager Kent Driscoll was sitting on the bank of the Mississippi River, waiting for the fog to lift so he and some buddies could go duck hunting when we caught up with him. Kent recently moved from western Tennessee to Georgia and admits that he has quite a learning curve ahead of him in mastering his new home lakes near Atlanta.
“Since I moved to Georgia, I’m going to have to learn some new lakes and I’m also going to have to master some new tactics,” said Driscoll. “I live right on Lake Lanier which is a deep clear lake and is very different from the lakes in Mississippi that I’ve fished my whole life.”
Driscoll has earned a great reputation for his skills in trolling crank baits in the muddy, shallow waters of Mississippi’s I-55 “Crappie Corridor” lakes, none of which have much in the way of Lanier’s clear water and numerous boat docks. Of course, being manager of the B’n’M pro-staff definitely has it’s perks when you need to learn some new tactics from well informed sources.
“I’m going to hook up with one of our local pro-staffers who is well versed in long line trolling,” said Driscoll. “He’s showing me how to set up the boat, how to adjust my speed for long lining, he’s even showed me how to use a gram scale to weigh all of my jigs to make sure they’ll troll at the precise depth. Long lining is all about the depth of presentation. It’s a combination of boat speed, jig weight, line diameter, and the amount of line out and I’ve made up my mind that I’m going to master the technique in the coming year.”
The husband and wife team of Jim and Barbara Reedy, from Charleston, Missouri, had an adventurous but tough year in 2011, managing to fish every tournament on the Crappie Masters Circuit and coming in second place for Angler Team-Of-The-Year for the second year in a row. Jim said next year they were gunning for the top spot.
“We’ll fish every tournament again this year but we’re going to dedicate more pre-fishing time to each lake,” said Reedy. “Plus we’re going to do a little more homework studying the lakes we’re scheduled to fish. Barb and I started out our crappie fishing career by spider rigging, then as we learned more, we started developing other tactics. This year I think we’re going to get back to basics. Tight lining is going to be our “go-to” tactic, but we’ll use others – long lining or jigging or whatever else we need to do if it makes sense. Our goal is to try to win the Classic and also win the Team f the Year like we did in 2009.”
Crappie fishing icon Ronnie Capps was cooking some fresh duck kabobs on the grill after a long day of duck hunting when we caught up with him. He and partner Steve Coleman are well known for their strong work ethic and their willingness to do “whatever it takes” to catch crappie, including building their own stake beds and artificial brush piles on their favorite lakes. This year Ronnie claimed they were going to use today’s cutting edge technology to work smarter as well as working harder.
“We’ve been using this Humminbird Side Scan for a couple of years and next year we’re going to concentrate on taking it to the next level,” said Capps. “I spent about 4 weeks total during the months before the last Kentucky Lake tournament forgetting what I knew about the behavior of crappie and just scanning the bottom with a Humminbird 998. Not really even fishing, just watching the sonar and trying to interpret what it was telling me. Crappie are an amazing fish and one thing I discovered was that really big crappie live, eat, and spawn in a lot deeper water then we think. One relatively small piece of structure like a stump off by itself can hold some really big crappie that never see anyone else’s baits. Those are the fish we’re going to catch next year.”
Whatever your crappie fishing goals are for the coming year, B’n’M can help connect you with your goal. Whether it’s showing a youngster how to fish with one of our 410 starter rods, mastering long line trolling with one of our trolling rods, or doing your best imitation of Ronnie Capps and Steve Coleman using a number of their signature items, B’n’M has got you covered in 2012.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and God Bless from all of the folks at B’n’M Poles!