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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Labor Day Weekend outdoor extravaganza

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Well, Labor Day weekend may not have been ideal for all the outdoor activities we'd have liked, but all the rain was well received. The outdoorsman's plight is one of vigilance and an opportunistic approach anyhow, and since I was hosting the in-laws and my niece at the lake, we made the best of it, and even managed to catch a good "mess" on more than one occasion!

My family and I arrived at Reelfoot Lake Friday evening and met the in-laws at the cabin, and it took approximately 45 minutes before we had catfish poles lining the banks! I talked to my buddy Billy Blakely, head guide at BlueBank Resort, earlier in the week and he told me they'd been hammering the catfish, and since the winds from Isaac would keep us off the water for the majority of the weekend, catfish would be our main target.

My rig is simple: Zebco 33 combos, armed with 10-lb. Cajun line run through -ounce bank sinkers and tied to a No. 3 barrel swivel (running the line through the sinker instead of tieing to it allows detection of even the slightest nibble), with a Doc's Worm tied to the other side, dipped in Sonny's Super Sticky stink bait.

We fished for a couple hours Friday night, a couple hours Saturday afternoon and again Saturday night, and caught around 20 catfish, with 14 keepers! Saturday night we mistakenly left our stringer of fish in the water. We immediately realized it when we got up, and my father-in-law and I headed over to the bank to see if our fish were still alive. As we came around the massive cypress tree that I'd tied the stringer to, a mink was sitting up, holding a 1 -lb. catfish in each hand! He dropped one and took off with the other, and when we retrieved the stringer we found three fish missing and another decapitated!

Sunday morning the wind was howling and I decided to take a ride around the lake at noon. I stopped at Bo's Landing and local guide Sam Sandage was just coming in with a cooler full of nice crappie. He gave me "the scoop" and I was immediately kicking myself for not fishing that morning, wind or no wind.

Monday morning finally gave us a break from the wind, and we were out in the deep water, vertical jigging the stumps at dawn. It didn't take long to feel that familiar "tic", and we had five, pound-plus crappie in the boat in a half hour. We'd go 30 minutes without a bite, then catch a few in a row, and by 10:30 we had 17, with only one fish under 1 lb.! Early in the day the fish were near the top, and as the morning went on they moved down on the stumps. White and chartreuse and black and chartreuse were the best colors for us.

Saturday morning was opening day of dove season, and my only opportunity to hunt. However, a strong thunderstorm rolled through the area and kept me at the cabin.

I talked to a lot of dove hunters, and the general consensus was that there were a ton of birds, but they were scattered and tough to pin down. The season is long and there will be plenty of opportunities, and I'll be taking my son in the next few weeks, since he's ready to hunt and my wife is ready for some barbecued, bacon-wrapped doves!

Next Saturday is the 2nd Annual Ben Kruse Crappie Tournament at Wappapello Lake, and Bruce Christian told me they were expecting a big turnout. There are a ton of sponsors and a slew of prizes they'll be giving away. For more information call Dain Bess at 573-421-1491 or Bruce Christian at 573-820-6111.

For more of the great outdoors, pictures, event information, and some video of my weekend at Reelfoot, go to www.joshgowanoutdoors.com.

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