Two recent trips in search of more crappie fish fries confirmed what I
suspected to be the case. In order to consistently catch white perch off
of your brush piles, you still have to do your homework!

Allen Hogan, a heck of a bass fisherman, has owned a camp on Toledo Bend
since 1969 and recently decided hustling crappie was much easier than
staying on top of quality bass.“Actually,” said Allen, “it was more a
case of old age catching up than losing my fervor for hunting bass.”

A former guide himself, he hired a couple of crappie guides to see what
all of this brush pile fishing was about.“It appeared pretty simple and
I now catch my fair share, but in order to catch fish consistently you
have to work at it.”

“I knew where I wanted to build my brush piles so I waited until the
grandkids could help me cut willows and we were catching fish off them
in less than a week,” said Allen.“I still don’t catch them like the full
time guides do and I understand why they get so frustrated with
recreational anglers that just ride around marking their piles and
taking advantage of their hard work.”

Last week, I jumped at the chance to fish with Jim Franklin and Stephen
Johnston and the trip proved to be possibly even better than expected.An
unseasonal cold front roared in the day before dropping surface temps
and dirtying up a lot of the water in the southeast part of the lake.

“We couldn’t even get out of the boat ramp yesterday due to the wind,”
said Johnston, “but I think we’ll find something this morning.The first
two stops proved to be little more than a chilly boat ride, but it was
“game on” from that point on!

Four of us shared Johnston’s expertise and we caught crappie up to a
pound and a half all morning on both jigs and shiners.We were cleaning
eighty plus fish by 11:15.

I don’t know how Johnston works all of his trips as he and Franklin are
good friends, but we have been back at the dock by 11:30 every time I
have fished with him and always caught huge numbers of crappie.

His wide open twenty-three foot Ranger handles four anglers easily, and
you are left with little more than having to trip the bale on a spinning
reel and dropping your jig where Johnston is pointing.His quality
electronics bird dog every brush pile and his spot lock troll motor
holds him in perfect position regardless of wind direction.

All you need is a fishing license and enough money to pay the guide and
Johnston will take care of everything else.He has no wasted motion in
keeping four anglers baited up, boxing fish and making the necessary
adjustments.He never keeps more than ten fish off a single pile and the
short runs between coveted spots are welcomed as the mornings warm up fast.

Johnston enjoys what he is doing and his non-stop light bantering is
contagious.A day on the water with Stephen Johnston is both money well
spent and a virtual promise of a lot of good eating in the very near future!

If you are looking for some all but guaranteed fish catching with the
kids this summer that requires little more than getting to the lake,
give Johnston a call.You can reach him at 409- 579-4213.

Every Tuesday afternoon the Sabine River Shootout is a matter of
starting all over again as far as patterns are concerned.In spite of
falling water and dodging mini-monsoons, they continue to post very
respectable weights in the weekly tournament.

Zane Gunter and Gavin Deshotel took home the first place check last week
with a 6.75 pound stringer.Mike Soliz and Jimmy Davidson finished right
on their heels with 6.42-pounds.Gary Robin and Glen Hagen took home the
big bass pot with a 4.10 pound bass.Cullen Simon proved that his big
bass the week before was no fluke as he won the Kids Division again with
a solid 1.77 pound Bass.

Chuck Uzzle and I ran a lot of marsh last week and while we found a few
reds, two things were evident.The marsh closer to the river is very
muddy, but the water clears as your run south.The only problem with the
clearer ponds is that once this water falls out they are going to be
solid fields of grass as there is a world of flooded vegetation!


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