The summer of 2012 has been well chronicled as one of the hottest on record. Thank goodness it's coming to an end, finally. Having been born and raised in Mississippi, I know that September can be fiercely hot, too. But, at least we can actually begin to see the days getting shorter and the nights a little cooler.

At this time of the year, cotton pickers hit the fields, scuppernongs and muscadines begin to ripen and thoughts turn to hunting - beginning with the early dove season and quickly transitioning into deer hunting.

The Magnolia Crappie Club, the nation's largest "local" crappie club, kicks off the 2012-13 season with our annual Big Mama Open at Grenada, Sept. 14-15.

Last September we had 69 teams from 11 states participate, and I expect to see similar if not even larger numbers of teams this month.

The Grenada Big Mama Open not only features a great tournament where teams are trying to land one great big crappie for cash and prizes, but it also features a great get-together on Friday night when War Eagle Boats brings their cooking crew to our party. Other major sponsors of this event include Mississippi-based companies, B'n'M Poles and Bandit Lures - plus dozens of other crappie-fishing related companies.

Last year's BMO winners were Dave "Gator" Roach and his wife Darlene from Memphis. Fishing in their first tournament ever, Gator and Darlene brought a 2.46-pounder to the scales - good enough to win the top cash prize of $1,500 plus a $500 bonus check from B'n'M for catching the winning fish on a B'n'M pole.

The story goes that Ray Clary, an MCC tournament veteran, drew Gator a map at Friday's BBQ showing him were to launch and fish the next day. Seems Gator had never even seen Grenada Lake before. Plus, he had a blowout on his boat trailer on the way to the lake Saturday morning and didn't get started fishing until after 8 o'clock.

See, I told you it wasn't that hard to win one of these things.


New tournament season

A new wrinkle for the September BMO at Grenada is that it will also serve as the first of 10 regular-season tournaments for MCC. Our full tournament schedule is given here. Let me tell you about it.

I can't wait to get started. From where I sit it looks like the first three tournaments will be won using crankbaits - maybe even the early December tourney at Eagle/Chotard. I can't stress enough how great cranks work in the fall. The only thing that will put a jig pole in my hand for the first four events will be if the December event ends up fishing Eagle, and, yes, then it'll be time to jig those now-famous, no-longer-secret piers at Eagle for those monster black crappie.

Early January at Chotard will be a slow-trolling-with-minnows event, with teams fishing as deep as 40 feet trying to locate the largest Chotard slabs. I wonder if I can get a crankbait to swim that deep? If we end up at Eagle, it'll be back to those same piers with a jig pole in hand.

Then, Sardis in early February comes right in the middle of our season, and - although I've never fished Sardis that early - they tell me that cranking for great-big pre-spawn crappie is the ticket.

Some of y'all who know my partner, Tommy Moss, please call him and tell him you read about it in a magazine - that crankbaits are the ticket at Sardis in February. Tommy's only slightly less hard-headed than a rock, and he doesn't share my confidence in cranks in cold water. I need your help here. Call him.

Lake Washington in early March is as good as it gets. Last season's heaviest fish was caught by Tonya "Lil Bit" Stewart of Clinton at Washington on a very cold, windy March day.

Her monster weighed 3.35 pounds. That scared the club record of 3.41 pounds to death.

Wonder who owns that club record? Oh, that's right, I do!

If you can help me convince Tommy, we might try crankbaits at Washington this time.

Then, it's back to the nation's best crappie lake - especially in late March - Grenada. For the first time ever, we'll be holding a Spring Big Mama Open at the same time. So book your rooms today: There will be a huge crowd for this event.

Bring your crankbaits, baby. Tommy and I will be slow-trolling Road Runners in the stumps on the Skuna side.

We're going to Arkabutla at prime time for spawning slabs. Arkabutla has proven to us the last two Octobers that it has huge crappie. Our schedule shuffle this year puts us on Arkabutla when the big females should be killing it. This could be our best tournament of the whole season. Leave the crankbaits at home; buy the largest minnows you can find.

Then it's on to Enid Reservoir, where the world-record white crappie was caught over 50 years ago.

Last season, fishing as a part of Water Valley's World's Largest Crappie Festival, MCC drew our largest crowd ever for a regular tournament. We expect even bigger numbers this year, as we fish for a $100,000 world-record prize plus over $5,000 in "regular payouts."

You can bet Tommy and I will be pulling cranks at Enid trying to catch one as big as they grow for that $100,000 prize.

So, let's see now: Y'all call Tommy and tell him that it looks like at least 7, maybe 8, of the 10 regular-season tournaments for MCC in the 2012-13 season look to be crankbait tourneys.

And, of course, we all know that the 2013 Magnolia Crappie State Championship tourney scheduled for May 31 and June 1 will - again - be crankbait city, baby!

Call Tommy. That'll make his day.


Magnolia Crappie Club

2012-13 Tournament Season

Sept. 15 - Grenada Lake

Oct. 13 - Wolf Lake

Nov. 10 - Barnett Reservoir

Dec. 8 - Eagle/Chotard

Jan. 5 - Chotard/Eagle

Feb. 2 -Sardis Lake

March 2 - Lake Washington

March 23 - Grenada Lake

April 13 - Arkabutla Lake

May 4 - Enid Reservoir

May 31-June 1 (State Championship) - TBA

Call MCC Tournament Director Terry Stewart at 601-502-5699 for tournament entry details.