Youth angler opts to fish for his 10th birthday party

When aspiring young sportsman Max was given free reign on how to celebrate his 10th birthday, the choice was easy: The Williams family was going fishing. Max, his brother Gabe, and dad Jason booked a guided crappie fishing trip with Mississippi Fishing Guide Barton Outfitters out of Oxford.

“This time of year, we are pulling crankbaits with a high degree of success on what is now sadly the Big 3” Barton said, referring to the recent drawdown of nationally recognized Arkabutla Lake.

The trio met Oxford resident and crappie guide Aaron Barton just after daylight and motored out to chase open water crappie.

“The crappie can be caught this time of year from the very upper end of the lake in timber along the river channel all the way to the dam, 50 feet or less from the rocks (rip rap). The key to success is finding large enough concentrations of shad that you can stay on fish without excessive periods of inactivity. That’s one way we try and keep non-anglers, youth and really everyone on board engaged: with lots of action.” Barton said he and his team do that by either power-trolling minnows and crankbaits off the front of the boat while also long-lining crankbaits off the back or hyper-trolling crankbaits and spoons off the back at speeds in excess of 3mph.

“When you are fishing that many different presentations, you can really hone in on what the fish are seeking that day, a gradually narrow down to maybe just one color crankbait and depth off the back and one color jig or depth of minnow off the front. When the day starts, we may be trolling in a range as slow as .6 – .9, working our way up to 2.5 – 3.0 mph as the heat and winds progress.”

When the trip was winding down, Max commented that he had managed to catch his first crappie, catfish, white bass, and new PB freshwater fish, all in one day. For those that want to try their own hand at pulling crankbaits, Barton suggests starting in open water closer to the dam, noting that fish can be caught in the trees with relative ease for those with experience, but things can quickly get messy tangling rods or snagging timber for the inexperienced. Try running Bandit 300’s staggered from 50-150 feet behind the boat using a Shakespeare Line Counter Reel. Start trolling at 1mph, but don’t get too hung up on speed, as long as the baits are running true, you can catch fish at half to three times the 1mph benchmark.

For those that want a little help, contact a local bait shop or consider hiring a local guide. Either way, get out and enjoy the Mississippi summer fishing and remember to take a kid fishing.

Aaron Barton
Barton Outfitters

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