Crappie Anglers of Texas State Championship Tourney

Discussion in 'LUKE CLAYTON' started by Luke Clayton, Oct 18, 2009.

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    Luke Clayton New Member

    "Crappie Anglers of Texas State Championship Tourney "
    by Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton

    If you ever doubted the popularity of crappie fishing these days, you should have been on the shores of Richland Chambers Lake at Northshores Marina on Richland Chambers Lake this past Saturday for the weigh in for the state championship for Crappie Anglers of Texas (CATS). Almost 100 devout crappie anglers, both pros and novices, fished the two day tourney and thanks to the passage of an early fall cold front Friday morning, the sometimes finicky crappie decided to challenge the field of papermouth aficionados. For most anglers, their favored species simply snubbed their noses at a wide variety of baits including downsized jigs in a variety of designs and colors, soft plastic minnow imitations and even the their favorite food: live minnows. Some anglers fished shallow cover, others fished deep but the only real pattern proved to be no pattern, at least no pattern that provided steady action.

    Photo by Andy Rodrigues

    When this many good anglers converge to fish a heralded crappie lake such as Richland Chambers, regardless the weather, some anglers will find themselves dunking baits into waters holding active fish, other anglers, just as skilled and qualified, simply did not locate the fish. Saturday’s competition was greeted by more stable weather and, more actively feeding fish.

    CATS was formed four years ago with the intent of providing crappie anglers from across the state with a wholesome venue in which they can best enjoy catching their favored species. “Our intent from the beginning was to host meetings, seminars, fish frys; generally provide a fun environment for our members. Today, our membership has grown to close to 300 members”, says Jay Don Reeve, Treasurer of the club.

    Photo by Andy Rodriguez

    Andy Rodriguez is a very active member of the club and served as club photographer on the recent tournament. “We hoped for 45 members in our first year but were pleasantly surprised when 184 men and women joined.” Says Rodriguez. “We’re not all about tournament fishing. CATS hosts monthly meetings/seminars with some of the best crappie anglers in the country. The emphasis is on sharing information on topics as basic as knot tying or as complex as learning to properly interrupt sonar are covered. We’re open to everyone and you don’t have to own a boat to join.”

    CRAPPIE CATCHING TIPS FROM THE PROS- Regardless the waters where you target crappie, early fall can be a challenging time to locate concentrations of fish. Expect crappie to be in transitions this time of year, some will still be locked down on deeper structures such as timber, submerged creek ledges and humps with brush piles or some type minnow/crappie attracting structure. Some crappie will be holding tight to brush and timber at mid-range depths (10-20 feet). One of the more productive patterns that contestants in the recent tournament reported is fishing the submerged creek ledges with standing timber. When “prospecting” for crappie this time of year, it’s important to stay on the move and fish a variety of depths and types of cover until you locate actively feeding fish. Carry a good assortment of jigs and live minnows. Sometime crappie prefer very small minnows and other times, usually when the fish are on a more active bite, they will readily take bigger baits. When crappie are especially tough to catch, many crappie pros employ a technique known as ‘Spider rigging’ where several baits are droped down at varied depths and the trolling motor is used to slowly push the boat over bits of likely crappie attracting structure. When crappie are not actively chasing bait, there’s something about the sight of a live minnow drifting away from their strike zone that triggers instant and aggressive bites.

    In a few weeks, with the onset of colder weather, crappie will begin to concentrate in big schools around heavy cover in brush 20-30 feet deep and there they will remain until the onset of warming weather next spring. Until then, take a tip from the pros at CATS and stay on the move and try a variety of baits and depths until you locate actively feeding fish.

    To learn more about CATS, check out the website at


    TAKE A KID HUNTING- Someone has to take the time to introduce youngsters to the sport of hunting, why not let that ‘someone’ be you! Each of us that have spent time in the woods pursuing game can trace our early hunting career to someone that took the time to teach us the basics of gun safety and hunting skills. Make no mistake, teaching a youngster gun safety is the primary lesson; the place to begin. Accuracy with a rifle or shotgun is learned through repetition and training should begin well before the youngster takes to the field. Keep in mind that on those first few hunts with a youngster, focus must be on him or her learning the basics, YOU will be serving as the guide/trainer, not as a hunter. Your focus must be on your charge for the day, his or her safety and making sure the outing is fun. If hunting big game such as deer or wild hogs, use a lighter caliber. Reduced recoil ammunition is available for many calibers. Shooting heavy recoiling rifles early in a youngsters career often causes flinching problems during practice so stick with a pleasant shooting, lighter caliber, especially those first few years. The early youth waterfowl and deer seasons (weekends before the general seasons) is a great time to get kids out in the field. Fewer hunters are present and game is easier to pattern. Keep it safe and fun and I can guarantee you will have as much fun during the outing as your young charge! LC


    OUTDOOR TIP OF THE WEEK- My long time friend, Larry Weishuhn (Mr. Whitetail) makes his living hunting all over the globe for everything from cape buffalo in Africa to whitetail deer in Texas. Larry’s title “Mr. Whitetail” is justly deserved. He’s not only a popular TV show host but an educated wildlife biologist as well. I visited with Larry a couple days ago and he reminded me to advise my readers that the whitetail rut can be going strong as early as the opener of deer season, depending upon the area of the state one hunts. “A couple years ago, I hunted and filmed a TV show at The Big Woods, located near Tennessee Colony, below Lake Richland Chambers. By the third week in October, the bucks were chasing does all over the ranch. If you’re hunting the eastern portion of the state around the opener of deer season, go prepared with your rattling horns and a grunt call and don’t be afraid to use them. The early part of the rut is a great time to lure big bucks within rifle range by rattling horns and ‘buck grunting’.” To keep up with the biggest whitetails taken this season, visit, the big buck contest that Weishuhn and his partners operate.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 19, 2009