As you may know, last week Anders and I competed in the Crappie Masters National Championship on Grenada Lake in North Mississippi. I told you I hoped we would bring the trophies back for the Adult/Youth Division, but we fell a little short. However, they still made there way back into our parish… but a little more on that later.
I drove over on Sunday and began pre-fishing. Practice fishing is not my favorite thing to do. In fact. I almost despise it but it’s a necessary component to be successful. There is something about being on the boat alone, trying to find fish on a massive lake, that just is not very enjoyable to me. I’d much prefer catching fish in a boat with my family members or friends. I guess you could say I get a bit lonely out there talking to myself for hours.
I fished alone each day from Sunday-Wednesday. I found some big fish, and even managed to catch my 5th biggest crappie of my life, 2.60 pounds. Although I found some big fish, I never found an area that had a concentration of winning tournament fish. At this point, I was basically throwing a dart at the lake map to determine where to try for our last practice day.
Wednesday, we had to be off the water at noon so after practice was done, I went and registered for the tournament and headed south to pick up my partner. We met in Jackson, and finally I had someone to talk to! He was excited about the tournament and very optimistic that we were going to find the fish.
Thursday was our last practice day. We headed out and threw the kitchen sink at the lake. We came back to the rental house and I was scratching my head. What to do, what to do? Only game plan I had was to just go fishing.
Friday, we wake up to cool temperatures with a brisk wind… now there is another kink thrown in; I had not practiced in the wind, nor had I looked at the forecast to prepare for it. I dump the boat and Anders is freezing at the dock in his shorts and t-shirt. Thankfully, some good Samaritan who was also in the tournament literally gave him the shirt off his back. I didn’t know the guy and wish I’d gotten his name, but THANK YOU… you saved the day!
We go out and try to find a spot out of the wind and boom, boom we quickly put 2 fish in the boat. 20 minutes later and BAM, Anders catches the biggest crappie of his life, 2.07 pounds. We celebrate; he is ecstatic. We catch one more fish in this area and it goes dry on us.
Where to go next? Once again, I have no idea. I drive about 7 miles and find a spot close to the bank and out of the wind. We dropped down and POW; my partner breaks his personal best record he just set a couple of hours ago. It’s a 2.11. 5 fish in the boat; we just need 2 more for a limit. We grind out that spot for a few hours and get our limit of 7 fish. We are over the moon that we caught 7, but we still had work to do. We had 2 fish in the livewell that are small.
With one hour remaining, the wind had died enough to go to one of my spots I found in practice. Luckily, we were able to catch a few more and cull out the small fish. To the weigh in we go!
We go on stage and weigh in 11.23 lbs. Not a great weight for Grenada but with those conditions we were happy to have them. As the 180 teams got finished weighing in, we are leading adult/youth division and sitting in 46th place. Not too bad for a rough day on the water. The nearest adult/youth team was half a pound behind us, but there was one major “problem.” It was the other Lincoln Parish team of Trey and Tucker Underwood (Tucker is Anders’ schoolmate). I’ve competed against Trey on Grenada in the past, and I know how good he is on that lake. The weather was set to be perfect for Saturday so I knew they would find the big fish.
Saturday was gorgeous, but our fish didn’t cooperate. We had the bites but just couldn’t stay hooked up with them. As the day was getting late, and after the fourth consecutive BIG fish that we missed, I was on the verge of a hissy fit. The pressure was getting to me; I was beyond frustrated with the fish. It was so obvious my partner took notice.
Then, I get exactly what I needed at that moment… Anders says “Dad, I didn’t come here to win the tournament. I came here because I like exploring new places; I wanted to see how big Grenada fish are, and because I wanted to spend time with YOU.” Wow. I’m glad I had sunglasses on so he couldn’t see the wet stuff that was in my eyes. It took a 10-year-old boy to bring me back down to earth; it was all clear. This is why he is my fishing partner. I actually wanted the same thing but got caught up in “tournament mode.”
Long story short, we caught our 7 fish but did not have the weight to win our division. As I figured, Trey and Tucker got on the big fish and won the division. The winning adult/youth duo had a final weight of 24.99 pounds and finished 30th overall in the tournament. Stay tuned for the feature on Team Underwood. Congratulations on the win guys. I’m glad the trophies came back to Lincoln Parish!
Dusty McGehee is a native of Downsville and a 2006 graduate of Louisiana Tech University with a bachelors in wildlife conservation. He is currently employed by WestRock and serves as an environmental engineer at the Hodge Mill. Dusty is an avid hunter and crappie fisherman, fishing crappie tournaments with his son when he is not in the woods. He and his wife Rachel have three young outdoorsmen/women: Anders, Ridge, and Mae. If you have a story idea or question about the great outdoors, you can reach Dusty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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