The fact that Terry Stewart of Clinton, Mississippi, works at Elite Optical might catch your eye at first. But if he keeps catching monster slab crappie like this past weekend, people are going to start wondering if he’s come up with some magic crappie fishing glasses or something.
“No, no, that’s not it,” he says laughing. “I wish I could. That would be nice. We just got lucky and got on a bunch of those big fish,” he said.
Those big fish included seven crappie that weight a total of 21.7 pounds, with four fish over three pounds, in Saturday’s Magnolia Crappie Club spring tournament on Grenada Lake. Stewart was fishing with his daughter, Terra, and they topped that bag of fish with a 3.83 pound thumper to win first place overall, big fish and set a club record. Sixty-three teams competed last weekend and other teams weighed in some slabs, too, including 3.56, 3.44, 3.34, 3.17 (2) and 3.08 whoppers.
“It was tough, really tough fishing,” Stewart said. “I know that weight doesn’t sound like it, but we only caught two fish on Friday in practice and we had two fish halfway through the morning Saturday. I was thinking about going and putting my boat on the trailer when we decided to try one more spot. Right now the water is 20 foot high and the fish are scattered everywhere. We’ve never caught fish in that last spot with high water like that, but when we lowered down the LiveScope, it wasn’t but a few minutes until we saw the big one. But they are super scattered. It’s one here and one there.”
Focusing on big fish
Stewart says without the LiveScope, they would have never caught those fish. But it still wasn’t easy. They had to fish very slowly over a five-acre area to catch enough to get to their limit. The wind was blowing and the boat traffic had the fish skittish. He said they could have caught more numbers had they just been fishing for regular size crappie, but when you focus on the LiveScope and target big fish, the number of fish you catch overall goes way down.
“We were fortunate to find that many big ones. I know there were some excellent fishermen who were trying other techniques that didn’t catch a fish. With the water up, they are just so scattered.”
Stewart said in the next week or so, more of the fish are going to move in to spawn. But many of those areas are inaccessible by boat back in the brush and flooded trees except in a really small boat. Some anglers are riding ATV’s back in the woods and wading out and beginning to catch fish in the shallows. Most of those fish are males. With the water temperature right at 51 degrees, a few warm days will get it up 5-6 degrees and the big females will move shallow. It’s just going to get better.
“The thing is they don’t all move in shallow at the same time, so we’ll see people catching them staging in deeper water and up in the shallows for several more weeks. It just depends on the weather and water temp,” he said.
What the Stewarts use
Stewart has been fishing straight jigs and no minnows, depending on his B&M poles, ProBuilt and Crappie G jigs for his catches. He is also sponsored by Engel coolers, Garmin and Rodsox.
His advice for fishermen right now is just be patient and keep looking for them. If you’ve got a LiveScope, it is a huge advantage. But you can locate them on other electronics as well. Without good electronics, you can still get lucky and catch some, but it sure makes it harder.
The Magnolia Crappie Club is the largest and oldest state crappie fishing club in the country. They promote 10 qualifying tournaments and one state championship every year across Mississippi since 1991.