Mark Walters, Contributor
Follow along each week on the adventures of Mark Walters, a syndicated outdoor adventure columnist who lives in Necedah, Wisconsin. He began writing his column, An Outdoorsman’s Journal, in 1989. It includes hunting, fishing, lots of canoeing and backpacking. He currently writes for around 60 newspapers on a weekly basis. He hopes you enjoy reading about his adventures!
This week and next I will be writing to you about a very interesting fishing trip that I just took with my brother Mike Walters to my brother Tom Walters lake home on Lake Washington in west central Mississippi.
Thursday, April 1st
High 52, Low 33
This trip was non stop interesting so enjoy what you are about to read. Add another 2000 miles to my 2006 Chevy pickup, no problems. Three brothers age 59, 61 and 63, we have literally been on hundreds of outdoor adventures together since birth, this would be the first where it would just be the three of us.
A major cold spell that started two days before we arrived would last for the first four days of this trip along with three inches of rain and a solid north wind. These weather conditions would create an almost zero crappie bite the first half of the trip.
My brother Tom’s neighbor is a crappie fishing guide and canceled his trips, two of the first three days that we were there and the one day he went, his client caught one legal crappie.
Lake Washington covers 5000 acres and is rated in the top 10 for crappie lakes in the country, crappie must be 11-inches to be kept and the styles of fishing vary in a way that is simply incredible.
In Mississippi you can use 100 hooks per man to fish. Many fishermen troll as does my brother Tom but their method of trolling is very unique. Tom has eight rod holders on the rear of his 22-foot center counsel “Avenger” which is powered with a 130 hsp Yamaha.
His rod set up goes in two halves, one side has a 14 foot spinning reel combo on the outside and then two 10-footers and on the inside an 8-footer, this is duplicated on the other side of the boat. What Tom uses for bait is 1/16 ounce jigs with spinners, tipped with plastic tails and a scented baited.
The trolling is done with an electric motor and Tom likes to move along at just under one mile an hour. As I said the fishing catching was incredibly slow the first three days but to put things into perspective, our first crappie which Mike caught was 13-inches.
So you are moving along with two guys sitting in the rear and the other working the trolling motor and a “goo” hits one of the jigs. Goo are the south’s version of sheephead and we caught lots of them.
If you are not on top of your game the goo has you in two to three lines and your life is now not so much fun.
I love the south and find it incredibly interesting, when you are on the water or in a local store, everyone talks to each other and as I have written in the past, per capita, for the USA, I believe these are toughest people that I see anywhere that I travel.
Another very interesting way to fish is in the cypress trees, which are trees that actually grow in the water and are non stop crappie habitat. There are two methods, one is where fishermen slowly work their way through the forest/flooded timber with their trolling motors and either drag minnows on bobbers, or sit in the front of their flat bottom boats and jig from tree to tree, or they simply anchor and watch bobbers with minnows on them.
We did this method as well and it was really cool to see fishermen from all over the country cruising through this world class fishery. The forest is so thick that you hear them talking to fishermen in other boats long before you see them.
In all honesty this style of fishing was where my heart was and I kept thinking I need to come back here and live in the swamp with my canoe.
This trip certainly was not all about fishing. We cooked great meals and had a blast both at camp until we went to bed rather late each night, and once the weather became warmer we started fishing after dark from Tom’s pier which is a whole other story.
Here are a couple of cool things to think about. In Mississippi, if you are a resident, at the age of 65 you can buy a Senior Lifetime Exempt license for $5.00. This includes basically all of your licenses but your Federal duck stamp and salt water license, add another $5.00 and you get the salt water license.
In closing, the world record white crappie comes from Mississippi and it came in at a whopping 5 lbs 3 oz.
Next year I am going to try and beat that record!
Check out previous weeks’ columns at: www.outdoorsmansjournal.com