Terry Stewart’s Record Setting Tournament Day
By Phillip Gentry
If you think about the ingredients it would take to catch a 20-pound bag of crappie on a single tournament day, that list would have to include: Grenada Lake, the month of March, B’n’M Poles and Garmin Livescope.
That’s exactly the combination that B’n’M pro-staffer Terry Stewart from Clinton, MS used when he broke the record for the highest single day tournament weight in Magnolia Crappie Club history. Stewart was fishing with his daughter Terra Stewart on Saturday, March 7 when it happened.
The two anglers put together a 7 fish limit that weighed 21.17 pounds. That weight was anchored by not one, but two 3.83-pound crappie that also netted the pair the big fish of the MCC tournament.
Despite what appears as a walking away win, Stewart said it was, in reality, a tough day of fishing.
Stewart credits much of the pair’s success in the tournament with learning how to graph crappie in open water using the Garmin Livescope sonar unit.
“It was still a little early in March to find the big females in the shallows,” said Stewart. “I only caught two fish all day in practice. By mid- morning of the tournament, we did have one three pound fish and another keeper, but we were out of fish and about to put the boat on the trailer and head to the other side of the lake to see if we could find better fish.”
Stewart, who had always considered himself a spider-rig slow trolling tournament angler, spent the past winter practicing with his Garmin Livescope to sharpen his skills in what he describes as a new era of tournament crappie fishing.
“You look at how many big tournaments are being won using the Livescope and a single pole. I figured it was time to get with the program or get left behind,” he said.
Four of the 7 fish weighed in were over 3 pounds. The pair also tied themselves for big fish with a pair of 3.83-pound crappie.
The Stewarts opted to move from the shallow end of the Yalobusha River arm of Grenada Lake and check an area of deeper water on the other side of the bridge. Stewart said this amounted to simply putting the trolling motor down, setting the range on his Livescope between 40 and 50 feet and hunting for fish on the move.
“The wind was blowing, and we needed to stay off of the fish,” he said. “Boat control is so important when you’re trying to find crappie because any noise, any hull slap, will spook them.”
As the pair searched the open water area in about 25 – 26 feet of water, they started seeing crappie, not big numbers and certainly spread out, but enough to get them back in the game.
“We found a very loose school of crappie spread out over about a 2 – 5-acre area. It looked like a lot of females that were moving out of the river channel. Most of them were holding about 4 – 8 feet deep over that deeper water,” he said.
Using single 18-foot B’n’M Pro Staff Trolling Rods, the pair began presenting a 1/16 oz homemade Crappie G hair jigs to the fish. Using a ¼ ounce egg sinker above the jig to help hold the bait steady in place, the pair were able to get some of the bigger crappie to bite.
Stewart said the emerging trend in crappie tournaments is learn to use the Livescope or be left behind.
“You’d have to hold the jig right over the fish,” he said. “Just irritate them with it. The whole time we’re watching the action unfold on the screen in front of us on the Livescope.”
Stewart commented that the emerging trend when using the Livescope is to single pole jig and boat flip the fish bass fishing style. He said he’s just not comfortable with that and fears for losing big fish by flipping them.
“I prefer to play the fish to the side of the boat,” he said. “I can keep tension on it and release line with my hand, just the way I’m holding the reel. The fish comes to the side and we use a 7-foot net, scoop it up and go hunt us another fish.”
The Stewarts managed to catch their limit of record setting fish, four of which were over 3 pounds and breaking the 21-pound bag mark, by simply working back and forth over that 2 acre area.
One of the amazing concepts of fishing in real time with the Livescope is knowing what’s happening in the fish’s world, before, during, and after setting the hook. That includes the ones that get away.
“We hooked one fish and got it to the surface and the hook came out,” he said. “We just keep following it on the Scope and putting jigs down in front of it. We chased that fish for 4 or 5 minutes, but we finally got it to bite again and if I remember, it’s one of the fish we weighed.”
B’n’M congratulates Terry and Terra Stewart on an awesome day of crappie fishing and an awesome tournament win.
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