Catch ’em deep, catch ’em shallow: Just catch em’!

Long time pals John Fryman and Gary Blome did what many buddies hope to do to keep their friendship intact after they say “I do,” they married wives who were close friends (and sisters).

The sporting pair became a trio-in-law after the nuptials as their wives offered up their brother Kevin as a dowry and welcome addition to the wolfpack.

The anglers booked a guided fishing trip with Barton Outfitters from Oxford, Miss., in hopes of catching some fall slab crappie on a vacation to Mississippi with their wives.

Their guide, Texas-native/Oxford resident Aaron Barton, suggested they try red-hot Sardis Lake where a late but underway drawdown meant fish could still be caught in their summer patterns using deep water techniques despite dropping surface temperatures and water levels.

“There are a lot of reports coming in from folks catching fish extremely shallow right now, but we know there are (and usually always will be) crappie that can be targeted in deeper water. Success means picking a technique or area of the lake appropriate for the conditions, planning the fish, and fishing the plan” Barton advised.

Windy conditions (which are fairly common from early fall through mid-spring) necessitated deeper running baits that required less line to reach target fish depths.

“Crappie are gorging on shad right now, so having shad imitators, via shad-patterned crankbaits, lures with flashers or spinners or even shad substitutes such as shiners is going to help your harvest” Barton recommends.

The band of brothers joked, laughed, and caught fish from sunrise to quitting time, throwing back only a handful of shorts and all fish with whiskers. The banter became serious business as the trip was winding down. After a lengthy conclave to establish rules and stakes, bets were placed on who would boat the most fish in the final hour, with the loser having to serve beers to the winners for the rest of the trip.

“With such high stakes, the brothers all of sudden switched to hyper focused fishing mode” Barton laughed.

Despite everyone catching fish in the final hour, Gary fell short of Kevin and John after loosing a 2-pound white crappie that was barely hooked in the bottom lip with a pink and white Bandit 300.

The crew fished 13 to 33 feet of water, primarily fishing halfway to the bottom in shallower water and 18 feet deep in deeper water.

Aaron Barton
Barton Outfitters

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