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State Champs
It?s summertime, folks, and the fish are biting. It?s prime time for hot-weather crappie fishing on North Mississippi?s big reservoirs. Great reports are coming to me from Sardis and Enid especially this summer.

I?m pretty sure that if the white perch are burning it up on these two huge impoundments, you?ll find similar success on Arkabutla and Grenada.

From what I hear, the crappie are right where they?re supposed to be at this time of the year on these huge reservoirs. Get right out in the middle wherever you find the shad, and go to fishing.

Favorite summer patterns have become pulling artificials, including crankbaits, jigs and spinners. Successful summertime crappie fishermen find they can cover much more water using the fast-troll methods that have evolved over the last few years. If you have a GPS, pull those cranks from 1.5 to 1.9 m.p.h. If you?re long-lining jigs, slow down to 1.1 to 1.5 m.p.h. And if you?re pulling spinners, in-line or safety-pin type, find that wiggle in your jiggle somewhere in the middle.

Magnolia Crappie State Champs

Speaking of trolling artificials, the 2009 Magnolia Crappie Club state champs were recently seated after winning a big two-day event held on Lakes Washington and Ferguson. The new state champs are really good at long-lining jigs. I?m pretty sure that if Kenny Browning and Earl Brink ever find their way to Enid or Sardis, there won?t be a darn crappie left up there. These boys can catch fish.

Both these fellows are new to Mississippi?s lakes, but both are successful tournament veterans who know how to find fish and catch them with their darn-near patented long-lining method. In fact, Brink has already claimed a national crappie crown with Crappiemasters a couple of years ago. And Browning ain?t no slouch, either.

He recently moved to Mississippi from Alabama, and Brink resides in Cummings, Ga. These two champs showed the rest of us in MCC a thing or three this past season. We have got to figure out that long-lining business if we?re going to stay competitive. Some of y?all will recall my telling you about these two back earlier this spring when they showed up at Washington their first time and caught 80 crappie on their first pass down the lake. No kidding ? 80!

I met Browning as he was moving into his new Brandon home. In fact, he was with the moving van unloading some of his stuff down where I store my fishing boat when we first met. Browning saw my boat and came on the dead run straight for me.

When he got close enough to shake my hand, he saw my MCC cap, and said, ?Man, you?re just the guy I?ve been looking for. I want to join the Magnolia Crappie Club.?

I should?ve known right then he was some kind of serious tournament fisherman.

Anyway, Browning and Brink, who have perfected the long-lining technique, earned the top spots in one of our regular tournaments ? at Washington in February ? and the 2009 State Championship event. Unlike some tournament pros, they?re not secretive about where and how they do it. They?ve taken several MCC competitors with them on off-tournament days teaching their special technique. My lesson is still to come, but I?ve been promised by both of them that I can get a full dose of the how-tos and where-ats on pulling jigs behind the boat.

Look, they beat us so bad the first day of the two-day state championship at Ferguson that they didn?t even have to get into the Top 5 on Day 2 at Washington to win the title.

Ferguson was our Day One, and the water was high and clear. There was lots of water everywhere with plenty of places for the crappie to hide. Some fishermen headed to the upper lake, and found crappie in the flooded bushes. In fact, even with miles and miles of fishy looking spots, several teams ended up fishing in the exact same brushtop. We even had a pre-dawn race between a couple of teams trying to be the first to the same sweet spot.

Runners-up for the state championship, Shelton Culpepper and David Thornton found themselves in a race with competitors Jimmy Smith and A.E. Smith. Culpepper said he was gaining on Jimmy in the pre-dawn light until A.E. started throwing gear out of Jimmy?s lead boat to lighten the load.

Now only part of that is true ? A.E. didn?t litter the lake, folks, but Jimmy did feel Shelton gaining on him, and floor-boarded it the last couple of miles to the hotspot. When they got there, there were already four or five other boats milling around just waiting on our 6 a.m. start-fishing time. One big lake, one brush top, six boats.

Day One winners Browning and Brink were nowhere in sight.

Day Two, we competed on Lake Washington and, although the long-liners caught fish, they couldn?t break the Top 5. Still their big lead from Ferguson was just too much to overcome, and Brink and Browning claimed the state crowns.

Congrats, boys. Now take me fishing like you promised, and show me how to catch ?em as big as they grow.