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!
I am writing to you once again this week about a very unique trip that I took to my brother Tom Walters lake home on Lake Washington which is in west central Mississippi and one of the nation’s top ten crappie lakes. I have written in the past about my love for hunting and fishing in both Louisiana and Mississippi and this adventure once again reaffirmed that belief.
Sunday, April 4th
High 68, Low 44
Today is day five of this trip and the first day that I did not wear long johns. As I wrote last week, for April in the deep south, the weather has been cold and windy which has resulted in very few crappies. Today, that would slowly start to turn around and I might add that when I say slow, Washington Lake has an 11-inch legal minimum for crappie to be kept, we have caught plenty that are a half inch shy.
My goals for this trip were to at least tie my personal record which is a 14-incher that I caught on Lake Puckaway and to possibly beat that. Two days ago, I caught a black crappie while fishing in the cypress trees with minnows and bobber’s out of Tom’s 22-foot “Avenger”.
Today I caught a 14.5 while trolling with jigs and some of my fishing goals for this trip were met. If there is a next year, I will spend some of my time living in the cypress trees and fishing out of my canoe and my goal is to crack 15-inches.
Some funny things about this trip, when we are in fishing in the cypress tress which is jungle fishing, if there is such a thing, we have to be very careful due to the branches and it seems like one of us was always hung up and then there would be the one chance to pull your rig off the tree with a quick snap or have it get so wrapped up that it was gone for good, this was quite often a form of amusement for the audience.
I wrote last week that if you want to, that you can fish with a hundred hooks a person down here. One way that many fishermen use a lot of hooks is with yo-yo’s. Yo-yo’s are a spring operated spool that are tied to trees. The line is pulled below water level and generally baited with a minnow. Yo-yo’s are used down here and run kind of like a trap line, when you are fishing you can hear the spring kind of snap and if you look you will see a hooked fish swimming at water level.
Though the crappie fishing was slow but did pick up, another form of entertainment was hybrid white bass. Often, we would be trolling with 8-rods and perhaps nothing would have happened for quite some time. If we would pass through a school of stripers that ranged 12 to 21 inches all hell would break loose, and we may have as many as four on at a time. Stripers fight like smallmouth and are good eating as long as you fillet out the blood line which is very easy to do.
I would have to say that without a doubt the best thing about this trip was three brothers committing to a week and having a great time together both in the boat and the cabin. Tom retired last year after 38- years with Exxon Corporation in Baton Rouge. Mike has been with Research Products for 38 years in Poynette and I have been writing this column for 31-years.
On this trip I realized for the first time that we are not exactly kids anymore and I am fine with that, it was so cool that twice Mike said, “we gotta make this an annual trip” and today when we were fishing we made the executive decision to stay another day and I think as soon as we made that decision along with a much improved crappie bite it created what was the most carefree, plenty of laughs, stay up the latest night of the trip.
I know it might not happen, but I am trying to talk Tom into coming to deer camp this November and I have a strong feeling that I will be in Mississippi this winter, camping and hunting deer and hogs from a canoe.
Hooked on the south and the north!
Check out previous weeks’ columns at: www.outdoorsmansjournal.com