• As Big As they Grow

    Author Paul Johnson shows off a couple of huge Barnett slabs caught pulling Wiggle Warts at Ross Barnett last fall.

    Pulling or pushing - Crankbaits are on the menu this month

    We’re finally coming into my favorite time of the year to crappie fish. Trust me: You’ve got it all wrong if you think spring is crappie season.

    September 05, 2016 at 9:00am
    The heaviest fish ever weighed at an MCC event was put on the scales a couple of seasons ago by 11-year-old Layne Carpenter of Flora. That Grenada Lake slab weighed 3.92 pounds.

    Come for the fishing, stay for the camaraderie

    The Magnolia Crappie Club just completed our 2015-16 tournament season, and, brother, let me tell you, we had a BIG year.

    Although we are primarily a fishing-for-fun, non-profit fishing club, we do keep score — and we fished for big bucks at our annual state championship tournament held on Grenada Lake in June.

    August 08, 2016 at 9:00am
    This nice Barnett slab was caught by Will Ferguson pulling crankbaits with his dad, Dee. Will and Dee are very competitive when they fish the tournament trail.

    Testing the waters

    I went to the lake this morning with my 10-year-old granddaughter, Harlee Johnson. 

    “H.B. (I call her by her first two initials a lot of the time), we’re going to pull some new-to-us crankbaits this morning,” I said. “They’re called Flicker Shads. They look like the shad that these Barnett crappie like to eat.”

    July 08, 2016 at 9:00am
    This big mama had not made it to the spawning grounds when the author caught her on Barnett this April. The crankbait’s hooks were carefully removed and she revived in the livewell quite nicely. She was released so she could reproduce hundreds of crappie fry.

    Mississippi is king when it comes to crappie fishing

    Is the annual crappie spawn over at your favorite fishing hole? Believe it or not, as I write this month’s column the crappie were still doing their thing at Ross Barnett.

    June 09, 2016 at 9:00am
    Paul Johnson had a great time pushing crankbaits in the mud and wind in March.

    Pushing crankbaits for crappie

    One of the great things at my age is trying something new. And, believe me, at my age it’s hard to come up with something new — something that I haven’t tried before.

    May 09, 2016 at 9:00am
    More public funds are needed to continue and increase the raising and stocking of freshwater fish for Mississippi’s public waters. MDWFP runs the North Mississippi Fish Hatchery at Enid raising millions of fingerlings from hybrid stripes to Magnolia crappie.

    What HB 1151 will mean for us

    Did you know that zero tax dollars goes into the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks? I didn’t — until today.

    April 01, 2016 at 7:00am
    Adonis Terry, fished Okatibbee with his dad Don Terry and Bernard Williams. Adonis has become quite a fisherman on the Magnolia Crappie Club trail.

    Lesson learned - Long-lining jigs for crappie at Okatibbee Lake

    OK, I admit it: I’m not nearly as mad at the crappie as I used to be. Officially, I’m a senior citizen, and the older I get the less trouble I have passing up a trip to the lake.

    March 07, 2016 at 9:00am
    Hugh Krutz of Brandon shows off a couple of Barnett pre-spawn monsters.

    Pre-spawn fishing strategies

    Believe it or not, we’re quickly leaving winter fishing patterns and looking at those annual pre-spawn crappie catching patterns.

    Yes, it has been a weird winter. We had the warmest December on record for Mississippi. I swear the pear trees around my house were budding on Christmas Day.

    February 08, 2016 at 9:00am
    Ellis Bates, tournament partner to the author, knows how to dress warmly on a cold tournament day.

    Fishing the right depths

    Last month I told you about the “blue man” I ran into on a cold January day several years ago over in East Texas. He had turned blue because he was so cold and didn’t want to leave the lake because he was catching some of the biggest deep water slabs I’ve ever seen.

    January 11, 2016 at 9:00am
    These Barnett Reservoir fish were caught on deep running crankbaits on the main river ledge close to the Highway 43 bridge during a recent November.

    Winter fishing can be wonderful

    The 2015 Central Mississippi drought has hit us all hard in one way or another. Everyone from farmers to fishermen has been affected by the deep drought.

    December 10, 2015 at 9:00am
    Ellis Bates of Brandon shows off a tournament-size crappie at a recent Magnolia Crappie Club event held in mid-September at Sardis. Note the size of the lure. That’s a 4½-inch long Bomber 7A.

    How to set up your boat to pull crankbaits

    I know we’re coming up on deer and duck seasons, and that we’re right, smack-dab in the middle of football season.

    November 09, 2015 at 9:00am
    Herman Duckworth of Magee used this “customized” Bandit 300 to land a nice Barnett white perch last fall. The Bandit 300 runs about 14 feet deep behind the author’s boat.

    Cranking favorites

    “Tommy, when you headed to Sardis for our first tournament this season? Carrying any crankbaits?” asked fishing buddy Tommy Moss of Brandon.

    October 08, 2015 at 9:00am
    Lauderale’s Paula and Mike Nowell joined the fun at Lake Washington last  February, catching several 3-pounders on T-day right before Paula fell out of the boat on a bitterly cold February day.

    The heat is hardly a reason not to fish

    Look, I admit it: I just don’t fish when the weather gets so darn hot.

    September 10, 2015 at 9:00am
    Nine-year-old Harlee “H.B.” Johnson enjoyed her first crappie-fishing trip with her grandfather, who just happens to be the author.

    Take a kid fishing today

    I’ve enjoyed the company of a couple of very special kids this summer. And one of the neatest things about both these kids is that they didn’t use or, in one case, even bring a cell phone with them. 

    August 10, 2015 at 9:00am
    What was once a public boat ramp is now private property.

    The Rez — Public or private?

    Recently, a crappie fishing buddy of mine called to express his dismay and disappointment that the one ramp on The Rez he is able to use had been closed.

    July 09, 2015 at 9:00am
    Gil Woodis shows off a really nice Lake Washington slab crappie caught during a tournament a few years ago.

    Good fishing partners are hard to find

    I fish 10 to 12 tournaments a year, every year — and I’m here to tell you that good partners are hard to find.

    June 08, 2015 at 9:00am