Fishermen are known to tell tall tales — we all know that. How do you know when a fisherman is telling a lie? His lips are moving — right?
Well, friend, I’ve been known to tell a few, but this ain’t one of them. This tale is such a fantasy, so far-fetched, so unlikely that it’s gotta be the truth.
You can’t make stuff like this up. And, it couldn’t have happened to two better individuals.
These boys are living the dream right now.
Let me introduce you to Lance Evans of Flora and Layne Carpenter of Yazoo City. Forty-one-year-old Lance is kin to 12-year-old Layne.
Lance, an experienced crappie tournament fisherman and member of the Magnolia Crappie Club, brought young Mr. Carpenter to his very first crappie tournament in March at Grenada Lake.
Yep, you guessed it: Dreams do come true. This is quite a fairy tale.
Lance told me that during prefishing days he found a few fish — some good-sized ones. This particular tournament was the crappie club’s Big Mama Open, and Lance knew he’d need a “good size” one to win the tournament.
During practice days, Lance learned the fish weren’t ready for long-lining jigs — one of Lance’s favorite techniques. The surface temps were still in the high 50s on most parts of the open water where Lance pulled his long-lining lures, and there seems to be a magic number somewhere north of 60 degrees before that tactic starts to really pay off.
So Lance stowed the long-lining gear and went to Plan B — slow trolling minnows out the front of the boat.
On T-day — again, this was 12-year-old Layne’s very first tournament — they set out their six minnow poles.
“Paul, we hadn’t gone 30 yards before we got the first bite of the morning,” Lance said. “It was on one of Layne’s poles. Layne quickly grabbed the pole and set the hook. I knew instantly that it was a good fish.
“Layne did a really good job under the circumstances; the fish was really hard to control. On our third attempt we got the fish into the net.”
Lance weighed it and measured its length.
“On my sorry-ass scales it weighed 3.3 pounds and was 16 ¼ inches long,” Lance said. “I threw those scales as far as I could throw them after I saw the weight on the official tournament scales: Can’t tell you how many 2.9- or so pound fish I’d weighed on those same sorry scales before that I didn’t mount.
“I’ve probably caught half a dozen or more 3 pound fish before — that I wish I had mounted now.
“Anyway, we had our first fish — an absolute monster — in the boat at five minutes after start-fishing time. Can you believe it?
“We didn’t catch but one other keeper all day, but we didn’t care. Only takes one to win the Big Mama, and I kept telling Layne we had a really good shot at winning the whole thing.”
Record-size tournament fish
Turns out young Layne’s first tournament fish is the heaviest ever to be weighed at any tournament in Mississippi.
The Magnolia Crappie Club’s record prior to Lance and Layne showing off weighed 3.47 pounds. Paula and Mike Nowell of Lauderdale caught that monster at Lake Washington a couple of seasons ago.
Prior to that, yours truly held the club record at 3.41 pounds. Charlie Henry of Morton and I caught that fish at Grenada in March 2004.
Young Mr. Carpenter’s monster was in a whole other realm. Topping the scales at 3.92 pounds, breaking the record for the heaviest fish ever weighed on tournament day in Mississippi.
Crappiemasters record set the Mississippi record last year in March at Grenada with a 3.87 pounder.
Way to go, Lance and Layne. You really showed our Missouri pals how to do it, bringing the record back under our flag.
I’ve fished crappie tournaments longer than anyone you know, and I personally believe this is the largest crappie ever weighed on tournament day anywhere — not just in Mississippi.
You know that our state is known for having the largest crappie in the country. Shoot, we have five lakes named in the Top 3 locations in the country — yep, that’s right, five lakes in the Top 3 (explanation provided in the sidebar).
That’s why people come here from all over in the spring to crappie fish.
OK, until someone proves me wrong, I’m calling it: Layne, you own the world record for the heaviest crappie ever weighed on T-day.
Wahoo! Wahoo! Wahoo!
Here are a few more details on how this dream came true.
Lance tells me they were fishing in an area of the lake between Red Grass and the South Graysport Landing.
“We were in about 10 feet of water, and our minnows were about 6 feet deep,” he explained. “We tipped some homemade jigs that I make with pretty good-size minnows.
This winning fish brought the Evans/Carpenter team a cash prize of $1,500 plus $500 from B’n’M Poles for catching the beast on one of their poles.
Magnolia Crappie Club is mounting the record-breaking fish for Layne.
At the weigh-in, when the 3.92-pound weight was announced, the crowd was stunned into dead silence. Then there came a spontaneous, spirited roar of applause.
All of a sudden, young Layne was surrounded with dozens of folks trying to take his picture with the fish.
I watched this fantasy unfold, and it seemed to me that Layne was unsure whether he had done a good thing or was in trouble for doing something wrong.
Finally, a big, bright smile came on his face as fisherman after fisherman patted him on the back and congratulated him. We were all blown away by the size of the fish, and, as we learned that this was Layne’s first experience at tournament fishing, we became even more impressed.
What a storybook tale. Layne, I hope you break your own record one day. You seem like a fine young man to me.
I know your Uncle Lance is very proud of you. Come on back, son, and keep catching ’em as big as they grow.