Since last month, the Magnolia Crappie Club and crappie fishing in general here in Mississippi has really gotten busy. Oh, I know that lots of Mississippi's outdoorsmen turn their full attention toward deer hunting now, but trust me - not all of us spend every waking moment planning our next deer kill.

In fact, the MCC rolls out our new season every year in the fall and, at this writing, we've just completed our first tournament of the 2012-13 Crappie Tournament Season. And, I am proud to report that the tournament at Grenada brought us our largest turnout ever.

In fact, we set two new attendance/entry benchmarks for MCC, the nation's largest crappie club.

We held our third Big Mama Open event, and our largest crowd (75 teams) for any event in our 21-year history fished this open tournament.

At the same time, we had 51 teams enter the club tournament, our first of 10 club tournaments this season.

Those are outstanding participation numbers, y'all. Wow, I am impressed!

We had a big crowd on Friday night before the tournaments on Saturday, and War Eagle Boats (who has sponsored the cookout for three years in a row) ran out of food. We were all surprised to see so many folks turn out for this annual event. Speaks well of our crappie-fishing community as a whole - that is, crappie fishing is alive and well in Mississippi and growing.

We used the Friday-night gathering to recognize some of our outstanding teams from the previous season. In addition to the Top 10 teams for the 2011-12 season, we recognized Paula and Mike Nowell of Meridian as our Most Improved Team of the Year. This husband/wife team were in their second season last year, and really made a move and became a hard-to-beat pair by the end of the season.

Our Rookie Team of the Year was the new team from Yazoo City, David McWilliams and Robbie Nivens. This first-year team won the Barnett tournament last December, an almost unheard of occurrence. Shoot, I've been doing this 21 years, and have never been on the winner's stand at the end of the day.

And, one of these fine fishermen did all this while battling cancer - told me fishing tournaments was "good medicine" for him.

We also recognized our Overall Points Champions, Terry and Tonya Stewart. Terry serves the club as our tournament director, and Tonya is our very capable secretary/treasurer. And, you'll recall this is the couple got married during last season, with Terry proposing - on one knee - to Tonya at one of our public weigh-ins.

Congratultions to all our award winners from last season!

 

New Year kicks off

Our new season kicked off with a bang in Grenada, and winning our largest event ever was another first-timer to MCC.

Traveling all the way from Dewitt, Iowa, Chuck Matthiesen won the BMO III event with a Grenada slab tipping the scales at 2.90 pounds.

That's a huge white perch any time of the year, especially in mid-September.

As I said earlier, Chuck had to beat 74 other teams that came from seven states to turn the trick. And, the man did it by himself.

Winning the first regular-season MCC tournament on the same day were MCC veterans Randy Bouchillion and Joe Lowrey of Louisville.

Joe and Randy bounced the scales at 13.36 pounds, beating the second-place team of Lee Jackson of Grenada and Mike Sumrall of Ovett by slightly more than a pound.

The reason I bring up the second-place team is because this was Lee's first-ever MCC event, and Mike is just beginning his second season with us - relative newcomers, wouldn't you say?

Congratulations, one and all.

I've been involved with this club since day one. In fact, I am one of only two or three charter members still active in the club. I've preached since the beginning that we had to involve as many new faces and people as we possibly could, especially in leadership roles serving the club.

Of the 20-plus years MCC has been around, I've served as president about half of that time, and I've been on the governing board every year. And, I've always encouraged others to "step to the plate" and take their turn in the "batter's box" as an elected official of the club.

Well, brother, let me tell you, MCC certainly took my preaching seriously, and we made some much-needed changes in some key roles of leadership. We elected a new president, vice-president and weighmaster.

Let me explain the "much-needed" part first.

I know from personal experience gained serving as president several different terms how much effort is required when people take on these leadership responsibilities. It's a job, friend.

I'm sure David Thornton (ex-weighmaster) and Shelton Culpepper (ex-vice-president) will agree with me on that much-needed terminology.

We needed some relief, and it is such a wonderful feeling to have another member shoulder the load for a while. Now, don't get me wrong. We've never had a better weighmaster or V.P. than David or Shelton. Can't say the same thing about our last president.

But, the point is we've got practically a whole new crew running things this year. Thank goodness, Tonya and Terry continue to serve in their leadership roles.

I was a little worried that the new crew might trip coming out of the gate.

Brother, I couldn't have been more wrong. I should have been listening to my own preaching all these years - you know the part about "new blood brings new ideas, resources and energy." And, boy, let me tell you what, I couldn't be more proud of the way this new leadership bunch hit the ground running.

Not only did they handle our two largest crowds ever - at the same time, mind you, but they also broke out new scales and a "tournament trailer."

I was impressed with the whole "new look" at the Grenada weigh-in. They even solved the fish-dying problem in the weigh-in line by breaking out a new system to provide oxygen for every bucket of fish waiting in the weigh-in line - a very good idea.

Way to go, new guys! Y'all dun good.

Can't wait to fish the rest of this season catching 'em as big as they grow as fast as I can.

Our November tournament is at Barnett Reservoir. Check the Web site at www.magnoliacrappieclub.com for tournament details.