Given there are no ducks to chase locally from February through November, one must find a way to pass the time between seasons. Many of us turn to spring turkeys or spawning bass once the weather starts to warm up a bit. The dog days of summer arrive and practically all outdoor activities that don’t require a swimsuit, get shut down.
However, for Todd Brittain of Black Dog Hunting Club near Stuttgart, who spends his winters guiding duck hunters and all other seasons chasing crappie. He also occassionally participates in the Crappie Masters professional fishing tour. Trips to the famed Grenada Lake in Mississippi served as his classroom and Brittain has earned his degree in the art of coolers full of slab crappie. Brittain studied under crappie fishing legend Nathan Howell aka “Bigger Jigger” and has been acquainted with some of the best crappie fishermen in the world.
After years of chasing fish the old fashioned way of cast and crank, Brittain has brought a little used strategy home to the lakes of Arkansa. Strategies that have proved to be especially successful in the hot summer months. With six rods trailing off the back of his duck blind party barge and a carefully devised plan of line depths and lengths, Brittain racks up huge daily catches by trolling crankbaits for crappie and other sport fish.
Most fisherman work under the impression fish slow it down in the summer months and go deep. Although fish do tend to move out of the shallow structures and hover just above the thermocline, they do not slow down. In fact, during the ultra-hot months from July through early September, fish go into hyperactive mode and are very aggressive after fast moving food. Brittain’s trolling technique has allowed him to fish a lot of water at set depths and speeds which are producing in the neighborhood of 50-100 fish per day.
My two sons, Reid (14) and Fuller (10) and I met Todd on a recent Sunday at the Jolly Roger’s Marina on Lake Maumelle west of Little Rock. Temperatures were already in the mid 80s that morning and predicted to be well above 100. Not exactly prime fishing conditions, or so we thought. Brittain had fished the lake a couple times already that week and knew exactly the route, depth and speed we were going to troll.
Within minutes of starting on our way, four of the six rods had fish on the line. We hit a school of white bass and put four in the live well right off the bat. Was nearly automatic anytime we hit an area of the lake at the magic depth, rods were bending and the boys were cranking in fish. We did this all morning and caught an assortment of fish including crappie, white bass, black bass, chain pickerel, bream and saugeye. For those that don’t know, saugeye is a hybrid fish that’s a cross between a sauger and a walleye and make outstanding table fare. Todd noted he typically catches catfish as well and this was the first trip to Lake Maumelle he had not.
Very few fishermen were on the lake that day and those that were seemed to be amazed at the number of fish were catching and the consistent action. This brand of fishing is perfect for young kids that haven’t fished a whole lot and definitely have not caught this many ‘keeper’ fish. A typical summer shower popped up and put an early end to our trip but it was highly productive.
At the end of the day, we put 35 fish in the cooler and that includes throwing back all the black bass and chain pickerel we caught. Probably reeled in over 50 when it was all said and done and we were truly amazed we produced that many fish in the dead heat of summer. Folks at the marina were equally amazed.Todd only speaks in vague details of how we went about catching all those fish. Sworn to secrecy on the details, I will not be passing along any specifics.
With fall just around the corner we will all soon be busy with dove and/or teal season, then deer season then finally ducks. But if you are looking into some fast paced fishing and a great time near Little Rock, I encourage you to give Brittain a call at 1-877-625-5273 or email email@example.com and schedule a trip. This fall Brittain will be targeting the saugeye as their activity levels pick up. We cooked up all the crappie and saugeye from our trip and saugeye was outstanding even in comparison to the crappie. Not often crappie loses that competition.
With this innovative trolling technique, you can really get into the fish and catch plenty for a nice fish fry at the duck club this winter.