If you’re enjoying this autumn as much as I am, you’re having a really great time watching Ole Miss and Mississippi State show out.

At the time of this penning, Ole Miss was ranked No. 12 in the country after two tough losses. But the Landsharks made it all the way to No. 3 earlier in the season.

And, my personal favorite — the Bulldogs from StarkVegas — were No. 1 in the country, and had been for the past three weekends.

Now, you know and I know that mid-season polls are just for fun, and the only one that really matters is the last one they do in January. Like a lot of you, I am so proud of the Landsharks and the Bulldogs.

I am especially proud that our schools and state are being represented by those in the national spotlight in a very positive way. Not nary an arrest reported anywhere.

That’s a great and pleasant change from what we hear from other spotlighted players and programs around the country.

It just so happens that my maroon-and-white crappie fishing boat has been sporting MSU letters and decals for the last 12 years. It’s always caused some comments, questions and honks and hand waves.

And this fall those friendly gestures have more than doubled. It’s been a lot of fun answering questions like, “Are you the MSU fishing coach?” “Where’s Coach Mullen?” “Who’s the best fisherman on State’s football team?”

My point, I suppose, is that this has been one of the most-enjoyable fall seasons, ever. Not only are our football teams experiencing unprecedented success, but the fall crappie fishing has been really good, too.

Grenada Big Mama Open

The Magnolia Crappie Club held our annual Big Mama Open the last Saturday in October on Grenada Lake.

Although T-Day produced some sho-nuff slabs, including a Big Mama over 3 pounds, overall the bite was T-U-F-F — tough.

My tournament partner, Ellison Bates, and I caught two keepers on Thursday, four keepers on Friday, and only six keepers on Saturday — the day it really counted.

And we weren’t the only team to fail to catch the tournament limit of seven. Approximately half of the 54 teams in the tournament failed to limit out with seven fish that measured over Grenada’s size minimum of 12 inches.

Listen, friend, a 12-inch crappie on Grenada this time of the year weighs approximately 1 ¼ pounds, and they’ve got to be over 12 inches before you can keep them.

On T-day, Ellis and I caught more than 20 crappie. We missed at least as many bites. But putting a keeper in the boat was a real challenge. 

We blamed it on the recent 2-foot rise in the lake due to recent heavy rains. That high, muddy water sure didn’t help any — that’s for sure.

Still, the weather was great—a little chilly at daybreak each day — and the fun and fellowship unmatched. Listen, those f’ball fans don’t have a thing on our tailgating abilities; I dare say we ate better, having rib-eye steak one evening and fresh fried crappie with all the fixins on another night.

And we met some new fishing friends from Kentucky. Four two-person teams traveled from western Kentucky to compete in our Fall Big Mama Open.

I asked them what brought them from Kentucky to Mississippi, and they all agreed the reputation and promise of huge fall crappie from Grenada was their No. 1 motivator.

I tried to talk a little football in the parking lot with my new Kentucky friends, but they cut me off with a “see you during basketball season, bub.”

All methods of crappie fishing were tried at the BMO. Ellis and I unsuccessfully pulled crankbaits on our two practice days. We put the cranking rods up and broke out the minnow poles on T-Day.

Other teams jig-fished visible stumps and other structure. Some long-lined jigs and caught a lot of fish shallow — 3 to 4 feet shallow. And some, including the winners (who weighed a 3.03-pounder), fished jigs tipped with large minnows.

By the way, MCC out-drew the national crappie tournament circuit folks who were in Grenada just two weeks before us. They drew only 40 boats to our 54 boats. Yes, we put that one in the win column.

We will be back at Grenada this coming spring — March 21 — with another Big Mama Open tournament. Additionally, for the first time ever, Academy Sports in Flowood is hosting what we anticipate will be our largest tournament in the 24 years MCC has been holding events.

On April 11, we will be holding a Big Mama Open on Barnett Reservoir, with the weigh-in to be held at the new Academy Sports store on Lakeland Drive in Flowood.

These spring events are open to everyone — no club membership required. Tournament entry fee is $100 a boat, and we pay $2,500 for the heaviest crappie, $1,500 for the second-heaviest fish and $1,000 for No. 3.

Go to www.magnoliacrappieclub.com for full details on rules and payouts. 

Teams can have up to three anglers in the boat, provided at least one of them is a school-aged kid. Teams are limited to six poles per boat.

Our kid rule is working great. At the BMO on Grenada, we had 10 junior fishermen on T-Day. I know, because I was the one handing out free fishing poles to these new anglers.

Boys and girls from ages 6 to 18 took part in a great time on the lake with dad and/or granddad.

Loads of wholesome, healthy, outdoorsy fun for all catching ’em as big as they grow in one of the greatest places on earth — Good ole Mississippi.

Go, Dawgs!