Look, I admit it: I just don’t fish when the weather gets so darn hot.
And the older I get the less motivated I am to even think about it.
Thankfully, I had a call the other day from one of my long-time crappie fishing buddies, William Clark of Tchula, Miss., that kinda snapped me out of my doldrums.
“Hey, Paul, you doing any fishing these days?” Clark asked.
“No,” I responded. “Are you crazy? I haven’t been in over a month. Just hanging around waiting on cooler weather, bud. You?”
“Yep,” he said. “I came down to Barnett last weekend and caught a bunch of great big white perch trolling crankbaits.
“Had two really good days on big fish.”
Thanks, William. I needed that. You’ve perked me up a little, and I promise I am going to the lake for at least a couple of hours in the morning soon — real soon.
Starting this month, the Magnolia Crappie Club begins our 24th tournament season. Let me tell you about our 2015-16 tournament schedule:
Sept. 19 — We’re headed to Sardis, and I can’t wait.
I love to pull crankbaits, and Sardis is where crankbaiting was invented.
This is going to be a great trip. I love staying in the John Kyle State Park cabins located on the lake.
Our club rents every available cabin, and we spend the late afternoons and evenings cooking on the tailgates of our pickups and even in a Crock-Pot or two in the cabins.
The off-the-lake hours, to me, are as much fun as the time spent fishing. Great bunch of pals — let me tell you.
The fishing will be great, too. Put in at Engineer’s Point and start fishing at the volcanic-looking rocky point where you come out of the launch area into the main lake. Fish the south shore anywhere you find ledges and contour breaks.
A lake map is imperative. Pull Bandit 200s and 300s at 1.6 mph until you find hotspots holding schools of baitfish and crappie.
Oct. 24 — Look out, Grenada here we come! This could be our best tournament of the entire season.
You got it: I’ll be pulling crankbaits again. Bomber 7As and magnum Wiggle Warts will be the baits of choice for my team.
Grenada Lake facilities are some of the absolute best in the entire state, and the lake itself was picked as the top crappie-fishing lake in the entire country earlier this year by some national fishing survey.
This October tournament is a Big Mama Open. It’s open to everyone — no club membership required. And the total payout can be our largest of the entire season, based on the number boats entered.
Nov. 14 — We’ll be at Wolf Lake just out of Yazoo City. We’ve been fishing this long, skinny old river run of a lake for 24 years.
I’ve seen it come and go thru good and bad fishing cycles.
To the best of my recollection, we have not fished it in November. That’s the one thing that I’m looking forward to — trying it in the fall.
Dec. 12 — Chotard/Eagle lakes are on the schedule. Again, to me, the draw is the great time we have tailgating over at Eagle and Chotard.
Several of our members live there or have cabins, and we find ourselves on Roger and Katie Womack’s or David Thornton’s back deck cooking out and swapping lies about our day’s fishing.
This tournament allows competitors to fish the Chotard/Tennessee/Albermarle complex and/or Eagle Lake. Last December my tournament partner and I left Eagle Lake around mid-morning without a fish in the boat and trucked five miles up the road to Chotard.
We caught our tournament limit without having to crank the big motor. We found our fish within 100 yards of the boat launch.
Great time! We were tickled pink when that seventh fish hit the net.
Jan. 16 — Okatibbee Reservoir is located northwest of Meridian up Highway 19 at Collinsville. We took Okatibbee off our schedule a few years ago because it was hard to catch a keeper-size fish.
Oh, you’d catch a bunch, but they’d all be about 8 inches long.
Then we started to hear that some 2-pound fish were being caught. So we put it back on the schedule last year.
And, yes, we had a couple of big fish weighed in. A 2.57-pounder was the heaviest fish of the tournament.
But, the winning weight for the seven-fish limit was our lightest of the season at only 8.97 pounds.
I spent the day throwing 8-inchers back. My best seven weighed less than 6 pounds — that’s awful, again.
However, I had a great time at the on-the-lake “lodge.” MCC rented the entire complex — 20 rooms, I think — and we bribed the caretaker with a couple of coolers of crappie into opening that great big commercial kitchen.
Brother, it just doesn’t get much better. There’s a theme developing here with my highlights, right?
Feb. 27 — We’ll be at Cordell’s Cabin on Lake Washington cooking my world-famous liver and onions.
And, oh yeah, we’ll be holding a crappie tournament that Saturday, too.
The great big fish start showing up in February at Lake Washington. I expect the season’s first 3-plus-pounders to be weighed in.
March 19 — It’s back to Grenada, where our heaviest stringers of the entire season will be weighed.
Again, Grenada is the No. 1 crappie fishery in the entire country, and March is the very best month to catch you a wallhanger.
Last March, 12-year-old Layne Carpenter of Yazoo City caught a 3.92-pound crappie — the heaviest ever weighed on T-day in any crappie tournament on every tournament circuit out there.
April 16 — Big, bad Ross Barnett hits the schedule. This event is actually the 2nd Annual Academy Sports Big Mama Open, and the Academy Sports folks were great last April when we held the weigh-in at their new Flowood store.
From a longtime tournament organizer’s point of view, it was perfect. Everything from the parking to the free hot dogs and festival feel for the participants and spectators was great.
Again, this is an open to everyone event — no club membership required.
May 14 — It’s back to North Mississippi to Enid Reservoir.
And, hallelujah, it’s back to cranking again. Man, I’ve missed pulling those hard baits these last few months. Can’t wait to hit Wallace Creek and Point Pleasant.
June 10/11— It’s our two-day event: the Magnolia State Crappie Championship. Location to be announced about midway through the season.
This is a big deal, boys and girls. We work all season to qualify for this highest-paying tournament of the year. Teams must fish in at least seven of our nine regular season events to make it into the state championship.
So join the MCC fun. Kids fish free, and we had a bunch of them last season.
MCC is the largest non-profit, fishing-for-fun organization in the entire country. We’ve been doing it a long time and it just keeps getting better every season.
Check us out at www.magnoliacrappieclub.com.