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Tournament Record--Almost

by Paul Johnson
Clarion-Ledger Blog
March 15, 2009

On what appeared to be a miserable weather day, the Magnolia Crappie Club folks damn near set a tournament record. We proved, once again, that Ross Barnett Reservoir is absolutely one of the very best crappie lakes in the entire country.

Kent Driscoll, in his 2nd MCC tournament ever and the first time on Barnett in over 10 years, used a last minute sub (whose name I forgot) and took the rest of us to school on a rainy day in Mississippi.

Get this, folks, and you do remember the weather conditions, right? The winning string (best 7) weighed in at 16.18 pounds. That's a 2.31 pound average, and that's right up there with our club record of a winning weight averaging just over 2.5 pounds set a few years ago on Grenada.

Club records are still best string (10 fish) @ 25.96 pounds, Buck & Lefty Thomas, Franklinton, LA. And, yours truly still holds the club record Big Mama @ 3.41 pounds. Both these club records were set on the same day on a Grenada tournament in March 04.

Well, Kent Driscoll, Cordova, TN, fishing with Rob Neblett took us to school Saturday. Kent & Rob Neblett weighed 16.18 pounds and weighed the tournament's only over 3 pound perch @ 3.08.

MCC had 38 teams--that's 76 crazy people -- sign up for the tournament in the middle of the worst weather we've had in some time. At breakfast at the Waffle House with the rain coming down in buckets, I predicted to club VP Shelton Culpepper that our turnout would be down--way down.

Boy, was I wrong, again. We even had 2 or 3 new teams sign up in the middle of the rain storm. Good turnout at the weigh in, too, with a lot of interested on-lookers showing up to see the giant crappie.

I've been competing in these events --about 10 or 12 a year-- for 17 years, and this was one of the very best tournaments ever--any where, any time--for lots of really big slabs. Great fishing for all the competitors. To illustrate, it took over 13 pounds (7 fish) to get into the money--that's the Top 15 teams!!! Man, I mean this was a real shoot out.

As Tommy Moss, Brandon, MS, put it, "Jim and I were proud of our catch--until we came to the scales. Our little ole 2 pound average just didn't matter, did it? And, besides, we really caught ours by accident. We'd only caught 3 little fish out on the main river ledge, and out of desperation and boredom we kicked up the trolling motor with our baits out to move into the Welfare Hole. And, bam, when trolled through there, the 2 pounders were knocking the poles out of our hands. Boy, am I glad my partner, Big Jim McKay, decided to make that move." Jim said, "We were kind of long-lining, only with short string." Great catch--just not good enough. Jimmy Smith, Brookhaven, with partner, A.E. Smith, Wesson, turned in 2nd place catch of 15.44 lbs. Ray Williams, Mendenhall, MS, in his first crappie tournament ever and fishing by himself weighed over 15 lbs. Can you believe it? The man couldn't get a partner, and he was obviously on some pretty good fish. The Eichwurtzle Boys, Jason and Bull, Florence, MS, made a move to "upriver" to land their best 7 and get into the Top 5. Good catch, men. Up next for Barnett is the larger Crappie Masters event, March 28. I predict that it will take 18 pounds to win that one. The big females will only get larger, and, although some are spawning right now, the water temps just aren't quite there, yet. The majority of the big fish weighed Saturday came from pre-spawn patterns on drops as deep as 15 and 16 feet. Boy, just wait, the fishing can only get better over the next couple of weeks!!!