liphunter reacted to rps for a article, White River Walleye on Worm Harnesses
In 1919, Norman Rockwell painted two covers for successive issues of a magazine called The Country Gentleman. The images are now in the public domain.
The Fishing Trip
The Catch Even Norman Rockwell knew worms catch the fish. Why many people avoid using worms and insist on artificial baits would make an excellent topic for a psycho-social doctoral thesis. I won’t be writing that. Instead, this article is intended as a primer for fishing worm harnesses in Tablerock and the other White River impoundments. What I will share comes from fellow walleye fishermen who have showed me a number of tricks. In particular, I want to thank Chuck Etheredge of Holiday Island, Arkansas. Chuck holds the Holiday Island Marina walleye record at 14.5 pounds, and he is the one who taught me about his harnesses for brush fishing crawlers.
Nightcrawlers are one of nature’s perfect animals. They aerate the soil, they help break down leaves and other dead matter to soil, and they are so valuable to growing plants that people buy them to put in their gardens.
Brown trout guides below Bull Shoals dam say they use red worms because they are “more natural looking in the water.” The real reason is stocker rainbows that can’t and won’t leave the nightcrawlers alone.
In the last several years nightcrawlers have become a major farmed and/or harvested crop. Grocery stores, convenience stores, and even Walmarts sell them. Typically, the containers are Styrofoam or cardboard and are filled with potting soil or mulch. I buy at several locations and find the overall quality quite good. However, I always check the contents before I leave the store. Temperature or stock rotation disasters do happen.
Next important tip: As soon as you get home, place the worm boxes in the refrigerator and keep them there until the fishing trip. Crawlers will last several weeks if left alone in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator. If you are not the cook, label the boxes “worms” to avoid screams and other domestic difficulties.
On the day I intend to use the crawlers, I pack the boxes in an ice chest with ice. The ice will not freeze them in their containers and will keep them cool and lively. Once I am in the boat and ready to fish, I put some ice and lake water in a flat bottom plastic bowl and add four or five crawlers. The ice water plumps them up and washes the dirt off so your boat floor stays cleaner. In addition, you will be in and out of your cooler less often. When the ice melts, merely add another piece or two.
An alternative I recently learned was to bathe a day’s worth of crawlers at once, then place them in the now empty Styrofoam containers with ice.
In the event you wish to buy crawlers in bulk, they are available from several mail order sources, including Cabelas. Several chapters of the classic book, Lunkers Love Nightcrawlers, cover the long term care and feeding of nightcrawlers.
The Worm Harness
A worm harness is nothing more than one or more hooks combined with one or more devices to attract fish. The early Crème worm was a rubber worm on a primitive worm harness. I caught my first lunker bass on this rig.
Literally hundreds of commercial harness makers exist and a Ebay search for worm harness or crawler harness will prove it. Cabelas and Bass Pro each carry more than one brand and several varieties for each brand. The sheer number intimidates anglers seeking to try a new method. How can you know which ones work best?
For those wanting instant gratification, the “norm” consists of two small hooks, size 2, 4, or 6, snelled on 10 to 20 pound test line. Above the hooks, you will find 3 to 8 beads, and in front of that a size 3 Colorado or Indiana blade. The entire harness will run on a single three to four foot strand of line with a swivel or loop at the end opposite the hooks.
Variations abound including those with single hooks; Smile, Dakota, or Willow blades; and even what appears to be a wedding band in the build.
To help understand the reason for blade choices I’ve built a chart:
A variety of harness colors will work. I suppose you could catch a walleye on anything if you fished long enough with a crawler attached. However, the purpose of the harness is to attract the walleye to find the worm. Certain colors and styles tend to work more consistently.
As a side note, the common forage of walleyes in our chain of lakes explains the color choices. Walleye in the White River chain primarily feed on shad and bluegill. As yellow perch, common walleye forage in the North, become more prolific in Bull Shoals, the color choices for that lake may change somewhat.
Bodies with chartreuse, red, green, orange, pink, and white are the most commonly used. I own a box of plastic beads I bought from Cabelas for tying traditional harnesses. It contains no less than 24 different shades that are variations on all of the above except white. Traditional harnesses frequently use more than one of these colors.
Common blade colors include silver, copper, and air brushed or painted blades using the color palate listed above. While I have had some success with half silver/half gold blades, harnesses with solid gold blades have never proven successful for me. Again, the yellow perch in Bull Shoals may change that.
Copper Colorado Blade/Pink Float Beads
Silver/Yellow/Red Colorado Blade/Chartreuse Float Beads
Silver Willow Blade/Firetiger Float Beads
Painted Colorado Blade/White Float Beads (Wonderbread)
How and Where
In a previous article, Trolling for Table Rock Walleye, I wrote extensively about where and how to locate walleye. I urge you to read or re-read that article for location information.
Depth and speed are the other variables that combine with location to determine whether you have success. Fishermen successfully use harnesses for fish holding as shallow as 6 or 8 feet. The harnesses are equally successful on the Great Lakes at 45 feet behind downriggers. For the White River lakes I do not advise downriggers. Instead, those who target walleyes use three way rigs or bottom bouncers.
A three way rig utilizes a three way swivel. The main line attaches to one ring, 12 to 24 inches of line with a bell sinker at the end attaches to the second ring. The third ring holds the harness line.
Those who use this rig do so because they can quickly change the amount of weight or adjust the height off bottom. I suggest any who use this rig make sure that the strongest of the three lines is the main line to the reel. The second strongest should be the line to the harness. The weight line should be weaker than either of the others.
The alternative to a three way rig is a bottom bouncer.
The main line attaches at the junction of the “L.” The harness line attaches to the swivel at the end of the unweighted arm. As the boat moves forward the weighted arm tip brushes the bottom while the harness follows behind the weight and somewhat above it.
Bottom bouncers come in a variety of weights, ranging from ½ ounce to 4 ounces. What size to use? Traditionalists will tell you to use 1 ounce for every 10 feet of depth you will be fishing. That advice is accurate and useful under normal circumstances, especially when combined with the traditional advice on speed and how much line should be out.
If you search the internet for articles on using harnesses and bottom bouncers, almost all will tell you the ideal configuration will have the main line running from the boat to the bouncer at a 45 degrees or less. Those articles also suggest the bouncer should only “bounce” from time to time. These articles are absolutely correct, and professional walleye fishermen use these “rules of thumb” every tournament.
The last element of traditional harness fishing is the speed. Most days a speed of .8 mph to 1.4 mph will be the most effective. Be aware the type of blade can change the effective speed. A Willow spins far more easily than a Colorado. A Smile blade can spin with even less speed. You should go at least fast enough to spin the blade.
However, the ultimate decision maker on speed will be the fish. Sluggish fish may want a slow presentation. If so the weight will be less and the blade choice would be a Smile or Willow. On other days, hot water fish may need a fast speed to trigger bites. In that case a heavier weight and more line may be needed to reach the depth desired.
Chuck’s Secret Method
Careful readers may have noticed the pictures of my harnesses above are different from what they see in stores or some of the sketches I have drawn and inserted. The differences are only a part of the “secret” method Chuck Etheredge taught me two years ago. His method is an adaptation of the traditional ways; one that is designed for the highland reservoirs with submerged timber, brush, stumps, car size rocks, and house foundations.
Chuck wanted a harness that was less likely to sink when the bottom bouncer stalled because it hit a rock or limb. To that end he substituted floats for the glass or plastic beads. If you put one of his rigs in the water and lay the bouncer on the bottom, the blade slides down to the weight, but the floats, hook, and worm stay up.
He also experimented to see if he could avoid exposed hooks. He took from the bass fishermen the idea of Texas rigging the worm. Yes, it is a soft, real nightcrawler, but the embedded hook had to help a little. In addition, one hook point instead of two equaled half as many hang points. He found a worm hook in size 1 or 1/0 was every bit as good as the traditional two small hooks in sticking fish.
Last, to keep the float beads and blade from pushing the worm down into a wad, he made another innovation. He uses a bobber stop to hold the beads in place.
In addition to changing the harness, Chuck defies conventional wisdom as to bottom bouncer weight. He intentionally uses about half the weight considered standard. At 20 feet he will use one ounce. At thirty feet he will have on a 1.5 or 2 ounce bouncer. To reach the bottom, this means he must have out considerably more line. The change in angle between the boat and the bait is exactly the reason for his unorthodoxy. He believes the “flatter” angle aids in pulling the rig up and over limbs and logs.
The combination of differences works for Chuck. On more than occasion I have watched him fish snag filled flats and timbered channel edges with his worm harnesses. Yes he will sometimes hang up, but far less often than anyone would expect. And while he is at it, he catches fish.
The first time he showed me his ways, he tried to explain his uncanny success at staying free from hangs. In my words, he does it like this. When he feels the line begin to rub over a limb, he does not jerk. He waits until the line between the limb and harness shortens. As this happens, braid line will sing or vibrate. Quite often the rod tip will feel heavier. Just when he feels the bouncer arm contact the limb, he lifts the rod in a high arc to pop the rig and harness over the limb. He then lets the bouncer fall back to the bottom. Many bites happen on that drop.
Please note that Chuck’s method requires the angler to hold the rod and feel for the key moment. This is different from those who put the harness rod in a holder.
Every article about a fishing method should include a few pictures to vouch for the method and the author.
A Table Rock Limit from 2010 when Chuck showed me his secrets
Three from June of 2011
My personal best, 13.75 pounds, July 8, 2011, on one of Chuck’s style harnesses.
liphunter reacted to Steve McBasser for a article, 2019 Fall Camp out is complete....10/31-11/2
We have been planning for a Fall camping and fishing trip for the men in my Sunday School class since May. Finally the day comes around and Missouri weather kicks our butt again. Wednesday evening that cold front plowed thru and the temps dropped rapidly. By the time we had the camper set up at Mutton Creek sleet was peppering down on top of it. We came back Thursday morning and set up the rest of camp in anticipation of 15-18 guys coming up to camp and fish. The cold weather prediction however caused several guys to chicken out. We wound up with with only 6 camping Thursday night and 8 on Friday. We had 10 for the fish fry on Friday night but had enough fish for 30..... To say the fish were biting good would be an understatement. We had multiple limits of white bass come in every day. Everybody else slept in heated campers. I was the only one that got to experience 26* and 28* nights in a nylon tent. It was quite the adventure........Food, fun, and fellowship. The evenings around the camp fire were awesome...... We had a ball.
liphunter reacted to jfrith for a article, Little Piney creek 10-18
It was my first time fishing the little piney and let me tell you it did not disappoint. Started out right above where Lane spring flows into the main creek at about 7am. Saw several fish spread out rising to what appeared to be very small blue wing olives. I tied on a size 22 BWO and tried for those fish for about an hour and gave up fishless and proceeded downstream (these also may have been creek chubs rising on the hatch so may have been wasting my time). Fished another stretch with confirmed trout with BWO still on, but still had no luck. It was now 11am without a fish, so I continued on downstream. Switched flies to a soft hackle with a green copper John dropper and it was on! Landed my first Piney rainbow, and it was probably one of the most beautiful fish I’ve ever caught. Fished for about another mile downstream and picked up maybe another 20 fish until calling it quits around 3pm. They did not seem to want my dry fly presentation, but anything small and on the bottom (emphasis with on the bottom, bumping across the bottom) and they were on. The fish in this creek are beautiful and the stream is pristine. Reminded me a lot of the neighboring Current in terms of water clarity, size, aquatic vegetation, microfauna, river bank composition, substrate, etc. which makes me wonder why the Current River can’t support a reproducing rainbow population? Could it be due to Montauk at the head waters maybe?
Anyways, incredible day spent and I will be back.
liphunter reacted to darbwa for a article, Trip/Fishing Report (7/10 - 7/13/19)
The fishing was good; it was the catching that was bad.
The fourth Andy Hart Memorial fishing trip took place last week (7/10/19 – 7/13/19) on the Current River. It was the 13th annual trip overall. Two father/son pairs from Tulsa and one father son pair from Kansas City set out early Wednesday morning to fish, float, and remember our dear friend. Most things about this trip seemed to be much more routine than past trips. I think the fact that this is the third year since it has become primarily a father/son trip and the third year that we set out for the Current River system (last 2 years began on the Jack’s Fork) just made it all seem a little easier to prepare for and to know what to expect. Nevertheless, there is always plenty of excitement and anticipation towards such a great few days of fun, fishing and relaxation.
For this year’s excursion, we decided to go back to the previous year’s plan of floating from Round Spring to Powder Mill. Last year we made a last minute audible in favor of an Alley Spring entry due to the heavy rain in the forecast and the ability to stay in cabins on the river in Eminence. After an uneventful drive to Round Spring, we began to load the canoes when the rain began - something that has been a recurring theme on this trip. We paid the rain little attention as we readied the gear and the tackle. We shoved off the river’s edge around 1:00pm in a steady rain. Unfortunately, our first pair was so anxious to get on some fish that we did not get a traditional group photo with the entire group.
Fishing was slow that first afternoon and it was slowed significantly by the lightening and thunder that coaxed us into taking refuge on the riverbank with a small cave not more than a couple of miles from Round Spring. As the storm slowly moved off, we continued down river. Our collective rust was showing as we all spent far too much time retrieving lures out of trees and resolving line tangles. One boat even suffered a broken rod tip – our departed friend Andy was truly with us!
Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.
-Henry David Thoreau
I would like to take this opportunity to talk about the inspiration for this annual trip that I have been posting about for years now. Andy Hart and I met in 1st grade. We were 6-years-old and he was my best friend.
I experienced so many firsts with Andy. He was the first friend to spend the night, the first to have me spend the night. He was the first friend to come to the lake with me. The first friend I went fishing with, the first friend I called when I needed to talk, especially if I needed to laugh (We once spent about an hour on the phone whistling TV theme songs to see if the other one could guess what we were whistling). Andy was the first friend I had a beer with and he was the first person I thought of when someone said, “best friend”.
Living half a continent apart nor going to rival universities changed any of that (he moved to San Francisco after college at Mizzou). We would still go through the elaborate handshake routine we made up in grade school every year when I picked him up from the airport for our annual fishing trip. And no matter how badly he was out-fished, he was ready to plan the next trip as soon as the trip ended. He never failed to call me on my birthday and he always had a way of making no conversation about him.
Andy gave me strength. He made me feel bigger, stronger than I felt on my own. He was positive, popular, attractive, and he was my advocate. He always had my best interest ahead of his own. He was my brother and I miss him terribly.
So, this fishing trip is one way that I remember and feel closer to him. I have even created an “Andy Hart Spirit Award” given to the attendee that most exemplifies Andy on the river. Some of the traits we look for in an AHSA winner are:
-Do not catch fish. If you do, make sure they are small and after everyone else has caught plenty;
-Leave something important behind (could be a tent, food, fishing gear, anything really);
-Get hung up a lot!
-Bonus points for tipping a canoe.
With all of that said, day one on the river this year looked more like a competition for the Andy Hart Spirit Award than a fishing competition which is the natural undercurrent of any trip like this.
The river was beautiful that afternoon with a thick fog setting in after the rain moved off. At times it was hard to see a canoe only a hundred yards or so down river! As evening crept in on us, fishing remained slow with only occasional small fish being reeled in. We found a decent gravel bar to camp on despite few miles of progress down the river. A fire was barely possible on this Wednesday night due to the soaking that afternoon and the continuous building of thick fog that made wearing a headlamp counter-productive. We worked on keeping a fire alive through dinner and post-dinner conversation. That night, while in the tent, you would think it was raining from the sounds of the dew collecting and dripping from any leaf around.
Morning came all too quickly with the sun beating through the tent and creating the feeling of a steam bath. A cold can of coffee and a breakfast burrito got me moving and a slow camp breakdown commenced with the intent to let the morning sun dry out all of the wet gear. By the time we were packed away for another day on the river, a nice soak in the cool river was absolutely necessary to cool us down.
Creeps and idiots cannot conceal themselves for long on a fishing trip.
Day 2 was a noticeably better day of fishing as every canoe seemed to have shaken off the rust. Gone were the repeated hang-ups and equipment problems. Who would have guessed that the result of that improved performance were more fish?! Everyone was catching fish on Thursday as we spent most of the day in the canoes fishing as we floated.
The solitude we enjoyed on Wednesday was not to last on this Thursday as jet boat after jet boat roared up and down the river (some repeatedly) many times sending us scurrying to keep our canoes afloat and dry. On one occasion my canoe took a wave over the side of the boat as it was parked on a gravel bank. At another point I was honestly frightened for the life of my son as a jet boat speeding down river took a route between him at the front of the canoe and shore that couldn’t have been more than 10 feet away. The boat squeezed through the tight, shallow section of river putting their boat within a couple of feet from the front of our canoe at full speed. Despite my inclination, I will save my additional rant over this instance and the subject of river jet boats for another time and place.
"Many of the most highly publicized events of my presidency are not nearly as memorable or significant in my life as fishing with my daddy."
- Jimmy Carter
We took few breaks on Thursday to stretch our legs before reaching Two Rivers where we took an extended break to add some more ice and water to our coolers. Pressing on down river, the fishing remained steady but fish of significant size were not to be found. We enjoyed nearly perfect summer river weather – warm to hot with light breezes and intermittent cloud cover – and ideal floating conditions. Fishing was easy and consistent and the occasional shout of “ANDY!!” could be heard from any of the 3 canoes lazily gliding down the current.
As afternoon rolled into evening we began to keep our eyes peeled for a nice spot to camp. The spot we chose had an abundance of firewood so night 2 allowed us to enjoy the roaring fire we missed out on the night before. The clearer dryer night and the light show of the fire inspired us to say up a bit later on night 2 so we played dice, laughed at stories about Andy and enjoyed time with our friends and our sons. Watching these boys grow up to be fine young men is like watching a flip book of the greatest story ever told – it goes too fast but it never disappoints.
Looking back at the previous AHM trip reports:
AHM1 - http://forums.ozarkanglers.com/topic/55430-fishingtrip-report-629-71/?tab=comments#comment-459217
AHM2 - http://forums.ozarkanglers.com/waters/rivers/jacks-fork/jacks-fork-fishing-reports/fishingtrip-report-728-731-r402/
AHM3 - http://forums.ozarkanglers.com/waters/rivers/jacks-fork/jacks-fork-fishing-reports/fishingtrip-report-829-83118-r819/
Day 3 was almost a replay of the previous day. It is remarkable how familiar this routine has become; how similar our conditions have been both day to day and year to year. Rain has repeatedly been a factor but never a burden (although we have had some close calls), weather and floating conditions have been good to great and we always catch plenty of fish. After our standard routine of breakfast, camp breakdown, and reviving cool-water plunges, we were on the move once again, albeit with a nagging sense of dread that our annual trip was quickly heading to its all-too-quick ending.
Our anxious pair that left us early on day one did so again on day 3 not to be seen again until our take-out spot in the afternoon. The other 2 canoes could not be in any hurry as our short time on the river on Friday resulted in a productive day of fishing. We caught almost as many fish as the day before but again all of the fish were fairly small. I believe the largest fish of the trip was only 14.5”. Earlier than desired, we came upon the highway 106 bridge signaling our last stretch of river before our takeout spot across from Powder Mill. However, our leading canoe had gone on down river to Blue Spring as the bank across from Blue Spring was our previous year’s take out spot. Despite the miscommunication, the very helpful outfitters at Carr’s Canoe Rental (Billy Smith specifically) were very accommodating with our pick up and we soon had everyone retrieved and headed back towards Round Spring. Billy was a wealth of knowledge about fishing the Current and other rivers as well and he provided plenty of good conversation on our ride back to our vehicles.
Throughout the trip, I tried many different lures and techniques. For the first time I didn’t catch any fish on top-water lures despite frequently trying several different types and I caught only a couple on crankbaits. The lure of choice was once again 3” soft plastics in a variety of colors.
liphunter reacted to Quillback for a article, Indian Creek area, May 13
Got to the launch early, foggier than heck when I got there. Didn't have much choice but to idle over to a nearby point and start fishing, started out swimming a Keitech with the idea of catching smallmouth, but wasn't out to long before I started seeing a blow up to out in the deep water. There wasn't a lot of top water striper activity, but it got to be enough that I couldn't take it any longer and had to give them a shot.
Had one blow up about 100 yards away, stood on the TM, got within casting distance, tossed the walking bait at the spot where the blow up occurred, gave it a twitch and man I tell you a stinking HUGE striper blew up on it, but missed, started walking the dog and it was like a pack of hungry piranhas were after that thing, had three quick explosions and misses and BOOM finally got one to grab it. Went through the usual tug of war and boated one that was in the 13-15. lb range. Wrecked the front treble on my lure, so tied on another one, and when I tied it on I noticed my hands were shaking. Many years of fishing but I guess I can still get excited at times.
Anyway, caught another one that was in the low teen range and a couple of 3 pounders to boot, all on the top water. Also caught an 18" smallie that was near to the bank. That dude grabbed about 4 feet of air a couple of times which was pretty neat to see.
For burned off, stripers went to parts unknown so I did some bass fishing, caught 10 bass, mostly smallies with a couple of spotted bass. 3 of the smallies were keeper sized. Had the best bite on the c-rig with a UV Speed craw as bait. Had quite a few bites, but they were just not eating it right - I think they have spawned, and are guarding nests or fry and are just messing with the baits.
Surface WT 66, water has a bit of a stain to it.
liphunter reacted to Bill Babler for a article, 4-22-19 Kind of Nuts Today
Started at the dam early and it was just not what I wanted it to be. Had several fish with a 4.52 jaw but not many bites. Loaded u.p the rig and headed for Baxter. Temps at the dam were 56 when I launched at 6.
Relaunch at Baxter at 11 and the temps were 60 and it was just flat on. I caught them on a Keitech 3.3 and a jerkbait with the boat in 30 ft. Fish seemed to be in that 15 ft. range suspended and moving up. Fished from 11 to 5 and did not go 10 minutes without a bite. Wind was just perfect. Had 2 keeper walleye one 19 inches and one 22 inches and I released them. Had 10 crappie, the biggest I have ever caught.
One here and one there. They were monsters. Biggest at 3.08 and 18 inches. Next biggest at 3.02 and 17.75 inches. The 10 weighed in at a little under 24 pounds. Smallest was a shade under 17 inches.
I have fished in my 65 yrs. on Lake of the Ozarks, Lake Barclay, Kentucky Lake and Toledo Bend and never had a 2 pound crappie let alone a 3 pound crappie and for gosh sakes catching them on Table Rock is just unreal, I'm in a fog. Knife is 15.5 inches long.
Every crappie came on a suspending jerkbait. Color did not matter as long as it was Blue. They were not schooled, one here and one there. Pole timber was always present. Best 5 bass would have pushed 17 pounds, all the best being jaws.
liphunter reacted to Ryan Miloshewski for a article, April 12-14 LOZ--Dam area
Went down to my cousin John Neporadny's place this past weekend with my grandpa. He lives in the dam area so we stayed around there mostly. The bass fishing was very good. We caught multiple fish on jerkbaits and Rock Crawlers. No spinnerbait bites or jig bites, but we really just focused on the jerks and crawlers. They were slamming them. A majority of the fish were just inside main lake points. Some on secondary's but it was a weird weather weekend, with 60 Friday, 54 Saturday and snow on Sunday. Welcome to MIssouri.
We caught crappie, but it was tough. They just weren't up on the spawning banks yet like they usually are. We would catch 2 or 3 on some banks, and that was it. All males. Most banks, which we know are spawning banks, were empty. Could be a number of factors so who knows. I bet this weekend will be a slaughter with the full moon.
Here are some pics of the better fish.
liphunter reacted to Alex Heitman for a article, Dam and long creek 29-31
Had a boys trip out of happy hollow this weekend. Started at the dam and caught some good smallmouth Friday on a rock crawler early but decided to head all the way up long creek by yoccum. We caught very little up that way and disappointed in water color and the bite. Big fish of the weekend was around 4 lbs caught before the storm hit on a spinnerbait. After the rain rolled by we went back to around the dam and caught keepers on a rig but nothing big. Couldn’t get much on a jerkbait or anything else. Really thought we would get into a better bite but didn’t happen. Saturday was brutal and the roughest water I’ve seen on table rock. Waves were massive and the wind didn’t let up. Fish were extremely close to cover and tight lipped and would only swat at arig and jerkbait. Had a great time and I’m sure they are biting somewhere but we didn’t get into them. Friday was best day and a friend and I probably had around 13-14 lbs. I thought the nasty weather would turn them on but we must have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Can’t wait for the next few weeks and more stable fishing.
liphunter reacted to Brinson for a article, Bull Shoals 3-31
Caught 12 nice spots today from 2-4 pm in 7-10 foot of water. 2 were about 18 in. long. Water temp was 51 degrees with ripples on the water. Caught all on 4" watermelon pit boss with black flakes. All fish had bloody mouths and some had bloody gill plates. Five Fingers area.
liphunter reacted to Phil Lilley for a article, New Missouri State Record Brown Trout, 2/23/19
Because there are so many facets to this Lake Taneycomo trout story, it's hard to know where to begin. The prime fact is that Paul Crews of Neosho, MO, landed the biggest brown trout Saturday anyone's ever caught in the state of Missouri to date. It was officially weighed by Missouri Department of Conservation Fisheries Biologist Shane Bush and documented at 34 pounds and 10 ounces. That beat the previous state record by a little more than six pounds, caught by Scott Sandusky of Arnold, MO, in November, 2009, also on Lake Taneycomo.
Crews and partner, Jimmy Rayfield of Salem, MO, were fishing together in a trout tournament hosted by Lilleys' Landing Resort & Marina on upper Lake Taneycomo. It's called the Vince Elfrink Memorial, named after Vince who was an avid sportsman, husband, father, and friend to many of the participants of the contest, including Crews and Rayfield. Vince passed away in 2011 of brain cancer at the age of 52. And just so happens that the pair won last year's tournament, sealed by a 21-inch brown trout Rayfield had caught. The pair beat out 36 other teams to win this year's event.
The day started out foggy and wet, but the afternoon brought out the sun and wind. We all were watching for thunderstorms early but anticipating the high winds forecast for later in the day, and they did arrive about 2 p.m.. Fishing in wind gusts up to 40 m.p.h. is not easy, especially tossing a small 1/8th ounce, sculpin-colored jig around. Working a lure that small in high winds is tough, even with four-pound line, but feeling a bite is virtually impossible, unless it's a huge fish, I guess.
Crews and Rayfield had had a good day up to the minute the big fish was hooked. They had been fishing down from Lilleys' Landing most of the day but ventured up to the mouth of Fall Creek to make a drift, working their jigs along the east bank. Crews said they were in shallow water, able to see the bottom under their boat as they drifted. Table Rock Dam was releasing water at a rate of 6,850 cubic feet per second, generating two units at 3 p.m. Even with the difficulty of the wind blowing his line, Crews still felt a "tap" and set the hook. That's when the excitement started.
The fish came off the bank where it was hooked and ran toward the duo, swimming under their boat. Crews had to scramble his new rig, spinning it around so that his line didn't catch the edge of the boat or trolling motor. The trout stayed down almost the entire fight, so Crews didn't really know what he had until the very end, but he knew it was big enough "to probably win the tournament" if he landed it. Little did he know . . .
"Frank'' eventually headed across the lake to the bluff bank, then switched back to the middle and eventually returned to the inside bank where docks dot the shore. Yes, the fish has a name explained later in the story. Frank then headed to places he's probably familiar with -- the docks. Crews said he swam under at least two docks. That heightened the high risk that the line might be cut on the dock itself or boats in the docks. Crews, a seasoned angler, kept his rod way down in the water to keep the line from rubbing on anything that would end his fight.
At one point, Crews said that Frank quit moving. He thought for sure Frank had wrapped his line around something and escaped. But Frank was just resting, and a fish that big can do whatever he wants to do. Eventually, he came out, tired and ready to give in. Rayfield worked their net over his head and the pair hoisted the fished into the boat. They were just above Short Creek when the fight ended.
Crews had just bought a new boat and this was its maiden voyage. Fortunately, the live well was just big enough to fit Frank in, but he filled every bit of it. Word got back to me that they were boating in with a huge fish, so we had everything ready to receive the package. Frank was immediately placed in a large, aerated tank on our dock to rest after his ordeal.
We determined right off the bat that we'd try to keep Frank alive regardless if he was a new record or not. Once he uprighted himself and was swimming around, we pulled him out and recorded a quick, unofficial weight of 33.4 pounds. He was easily a new Missouri state record. Now we had to come up with a plan to transport him to the hatchery to be officially weighed.
We filled a stock tank full of lake water and that's where Frank rode, guarded by admirers in the back of my truck on the five-mile ride to the Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery. Shane Bush was there with hatchery personnel, ready with their official scale to see if Frank made the record books or not. Everything was done quickly and carefully, pulling him out of the stock tank to the scale, verifying his weight at 34 pounds, 10 ounces, and then moving him to an aerated tank in Shane's truck. We still had no pictures out of the water, just shaky videos, but the goal was to return him back in the lake as quickly as possible.
We caravaned down to the boat ramp access, less than a mile from the weigh in site. Shane needed to get some official measurements before release -- 38 inches long with a 27-inch girth. He confirmed our observations that the adipose fin had been clipped, which identified Frank as a triploid brown trout. I'll explain what that means later.
The sun was about to set over Table Rock Dam, so we hurried to the edge of the water to take a few pictures -- Crews and Rayfield with the new Missouri state record brown trout. We slipped Frank into the water, and Crews gently held him there until he swam out of his hand. We followed him a little ways downstream until he turned and swam close to the bank, holding his own in the swift water. Frank dashed the record books, survived being fought, handled, trucked, weighed, trucked and photographed and before sundown was back in Lake Taneycomo -- we hope to keep growing and maybe, just maybe, give someone else a chance to catch a state record fish.
Crews lives with his best friend and wife, Rita, and their son Matthew in Neosho, Missouri. They own Crews Construction and specialize in wastewater treatment plant construction. He is an avid outdoorsman, but his home waters are the Spring and Neosho rivers as well as Grand Lake, so he rarely fishes for trout except in the annual tournament honoring his fishing buddy.
Frank's story - we've always had trout hovering under our dock, feeding on pieces and parts of fish discarded from our fish cleaning facility. And on occasion there will be a big trout, either brown or rainbow, stop by for a treat. They move up and down the lake seeking out the best meal, never staying in one spot very long.
One day about three years ago, Duane Doty (dockhand and guide for Lilleys' Landing) spotted a very large brown. He stood out from the other trout. He was a brute. Duane called him Frank. Shortly after Frank showed up, another brown trout showed up and he was much bigger! Duane changed Frank's name to Frankie and called the new addition Frank. We have since videoed and photographed Frank many times when he has trolled by, so we have good records on him.
To sum up this incredible story up, fishing in a memorial tournament, named after his best friend, Paul Crews hooks a fish in extremely adverse conditions, fights a 34-pound fish on four-pound line for 20 minutes around docks, logs and boat traffic and lands it using a small trout net. He fits it in his live well and keeps it alive while transporting it to be officially weighed, measured and photographed and released back in the lake successfully to keep the story alive.
And Crews says, "Praise the Lord!"
Credit: Ryan Miloshowski for pictures.