Outdoor Gift Guide


Outdoor Gift Guide – The Countdown to Christmas

By Josh Gowan

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all the outdoors-folk in our beautiful little piece of America! Jesus is the reason for the season, and there are blessings abound in our neck of the woods. Lord knows I love the thrill of fishing and hunting, and the beauty of the great outdoors, but without friends and family to share this awesome passion with, I doubt many of us would be near as adamant about it. So take a kid fishing or hunting, and thank the Lord for time spent in the serenity of God’s creation with the ones we love, because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Hopefully a lot of kids (and dads and grandpas) are receiving a ton of camouflage, guns, ammo, fishing poles, and so on for Christmas this year. I’m just beginning the annual expedition to our family’s many Christmases, one of the advantages of having a huge family and then strategically marrying into one, so it’s too early to take inventory!

I read an article from a would-be prominent newspaper (no outdoor column) a few days ago that listed some great last minute gift ideas for the outdoorsman in your life. Actually that’s not true, the article only listed one, a hunting or fishing license, which is really not a very good gift because I can assure you we are going to buy those for ourselves! However, I figured a few last minute ideas for the always tough-to-buy-for hunter or fisherman might help.

While there are outdoor stores in all the big towns and cities, and some of these things can be purchased at Wal-Mart and possibly for a nickel less, for this particular gift-guide I am using Grizzly Jig Co. in Caruthersville, Missouri. Grizzly is not only a family-owned, brick and mortar store that has been serving West Tennessee and Southeast Missouri for over 20 years, but it also serves as my day job, and I’m pushing for a nice bonus this year!

Here’s a list of gifts and prices, followed by the age group they’re best suited for divided into kids, dads, and grandpas!

Polarized sunglasses: From the Flying Fisherman line that runs around $25, to the Native line that tops out around $150, fishermen can never have enough polarized sunglasses. For: kids, dads, and grandpas, unless they wear glasses full time.

Cablz: These are the devices that insure we don’t lose those new sunglasses. They’re $12 and worth every penny, as I’ve had the same one through three pairs of sunglasses, which all broke rather than were lost. For: kids, dads, and grandpas. Also fit easily in a stocking.

Plano Dry-loc Case: Everyone should own one of these. The larger of the two is a bit smaller than a Kleenex box and has a thick rubber seal and a tough clamp-lock. I’ve owned the same one for four years and it goes to the beach, the river, and the lake with us. Easily holds and protects 2-3 cell phones, a small camera and a wallet all at once for $17. The smaller one would hold one phone and contents of a wallet for $12. For: kids, dads, and grandpas.

Frogg Togg Rain Suit: This rain suit will fit in your glove box when it’s rolled up, but put on, you won’t find a nicer rain suit for under $80, and it sells for $40. For: dads and grandpas, no kid’s sizes.

Zebco 33 Combo: This push-button rod and reel has been around in one form or another for longer than I’ve been alive. This is a great starter setup, and for $26 you’re sure to put a smile on a kid’s face. For: kids, and dads and grandpas that have a pond or aren’t serious anglers (however, if you’ve been eyeballing a new tie for dad or grandpa, I can assure you he’d rather have the 33 Combo, even if your grandpa’s Bill Dance!)

Crappie Angler Magazine subscription: This only applies to crappie fishermen, but for only $25 a year you get to enjoy six issues of crappie tips and tactics, and what may be the best humor article in the fishing world! For: everyone that crappie fishes!

We also have a ton of hats, knives, stocking stuffer stuff, and so on, and then there’s always the very popular gift certificate! So come see us and let us save the men in your life from another Christmas morn of ties, underwear, and socks!

Call 1-800-305-9866 or go to!


Why you should thank the hunter that shot the albino buck


Legendary Albino Buck Harvested by Bowhunter

By Josh Gowan

The top story in the outdoors this past week has been well-documented and dramatically over-reported on, so staying true to journalistic form, I’d be remiss if I didn’t beat it into the ground a bit more!

Here’s the headline: “The majestic White Stag from Narnia was bludgeoned to death by a heartless murderer in the name of fame, fortune, and evil, and now the good townsfolk are arming themselves with pitchforks and torches and aiming to lynch the accused.” That might had well been the headline anyway, but at the end of the day, the only thing that happened was a deer hunter killed a deer, and a pretty nice one at that.

Jerry Kinnaman from Cape Girardeau, MO took the big, mature, white buck that has caused a lot of uproar and nonsensical dramatics among our community. It was a great kill for a lifelong hunter, and one he should be proud of and able to enjoy, rather than have to get bashed by people who know little and have done less to help this deer, let alone the rest of his species.

First and foremost, Jerry passed on this deer before, because his neighbor had asked him to, and it wasn’t until his neighbor’s property was becoming overrun with people attempting to see and photograph the deer that he told Jerry to please harvest the buck. As Jerry told him, it’s not that easy, and it was 3 years later before he had the chance to shoot the buck, who at 7 ½ years old had a very small chance at making it through the winter.

Secondly, albinism is not a gift from God, and as far as nature is concerned it would much more closely resemble a curse. Deer are brown for a reason, and white deer very rarely make it in the wild. Many states, like Missouri, encourage the shooting and harvesting of white deer so that their traits are not passed down causing an unhealthy balance in the herd. That’s THE HERD, encompassing all the deer in the state, not just the pretty ones.

White fawns are very rare, but white 2-year-olds are much rarer, as predators pick them off easily due to their lack of camouflage. This buck living as long as he has has produced many fawns that didn’t make it to their 6th month, but hey, that’s just nature being nature, not blood thirsty humans shooting them for sport, right? Not quite.

The problem with that line of thinking, or lack thereof, is that if weren’t for hunters, there would be no white deer, brown deer, or any other deer. In 1925 our state’s deer herd was estimated to be around 400 due to the European settlers wiping out anything and everything they could eat, wear, or turn into a dollar. In 1937 the first Conservation Commission was formed by concerned hunters, and deer season was closed for five years, while they stocked deer from northern states. The state began training conservation agents, and by 1944 the state’s herd was estimated at 15,000 and Missouri held a 2-day, bucks-only season that 7,557 hunters bought licenses for and took 583 deer.

Today the deer herd in the state of Missouri is estimated at over 1.5 million, and our conservation agency is touted as one of the top in the nation. In 2013 alone, 4,487 hunters donated 227,358 pounds of venison to the Share the Harvest program to feed the needy, and the opportunities for youth to enjoy the outdoors through our conservation departments numerous programs are the envy of other states, and continue to grow. Hunters and fishermen alone supported the MDC up until the late 1970’s, when Missouri passed the Design for Conservation Tax, allotting 1/8 of 1 percent of the state’s sales tax to go to the conservation department. This money, along with the licenses and tags bought by hunters and fishermen, along with the deep appreciation of land management and the conservation of fish and game by outdoorsmen and women, is the reason that majestic white buck was there in the first place.

Hunters and fishermen, WE are the ones who put in the work, who pay the bills, who manage the land, and who undoubtedly have a much deeper connection and appreciation of deer, ALL DEER, not just the pretty ones, than anyone else.

So in closing, if you truly loved that white buck, rather than curse and demean Jerry Kinnaman, go shake his hand, and thank him for doing his part for conservation, and hope that we outdoorsmen and women remain the vast majority, so that the rest of you will have plenty of beautiful animals and picturesque landscapes to enjoy for years to come.


My son and I awaiting a deer!


An Epic Journey: Part II

By Josh Gowan

He stayed tight to my hip, and we arrived at the creek without further incident, and without sight or sound of a four-wheeler. I surveyed the 20-foot-wide creek and found a suitable place to cross. My boots are much higher than his, but a large rock seemed as though it could assist him across the deepest part. I waded out into the water wearing my massive backpack, holding his gun in one hand, flashlight in my mouth, and reached out so he could take my hand and jump to the rock. He did so, and upon landing both of his boots went sliding off in either direction, unable to grab any traction from the slime-covered rock. So there we were, in the dark in the middle of the creek, me holding a gun in one hand and a 10-year-old in the other, attempting to yell directions through the flashlight in my mouth while he desperately scrambled to get traction.

It will surprise many of you to know that I am not extremely tall, and my son is quickly gaining on me, so to keep him out of the water with the death grip I had on his hand, I had to hold my hand quite high above my head. Realizing that the rock was getting less and less likely to catch a boot, let alone an entire 10-year-old, I quickly turned to an impromptu plan B, and swung him 180 degrees between myself and our intended escape. I felt confident the noise we made would run off any yetis in the vicinity, or bring them closer out of curiosity, one or the other. Once he was firmly settled in a foot of water, I was able to extract the slobber-covered flashlight from my mouth and give him further instructions, something like, “my dear son, please make your way out of this delightful creek and up on that lovely bank” I believe were the words, more of less…

Still without rescue, we came to the last leg of our trek, and sticking to the plot of all epic journeys, it was the most worrisome. I am a country boy, having spent a lot of time on farms, but farms of row crop and not cows. I know nothing of cows, except how to properly grill them. We walked up to the gate and I expressed my concern to my companion, and he informed me that through his vast 4th grade research into farm animals he’d learned that cows can be very territorial, and I had no reason to doubt him.

I shined my light into the pasture, and figured out why we were unable to see our feet before. A thick fog had been rising, and was now surrounding us. About halfway across, my intent scanning found a dark blog in the mist, and our greatest fear was upon us. My partner was walking step for step with me, with his upper body between me and my backpack, so I saw no need to alert him of the looming danger. As we walked within 15-feet of the savory beast, he turned his head towards us, which through the fog appeared as an alien-like triangle with glowing orbs on either side. I pondered if there were standard rancher rules about flashlights and cows, either “shine your light in a cows eyes and it will stand still” or “shine your light in a cows eyes and it will charge you,” I couldn’t be sure so I settled on a strobe effect that seemed to hold the monster at bay. Just as we were passing him, my light discovered more triangles affixed with glowing orbs that appeared to be closing in on us. While frantically scanning all sides, keeping a brisk pace, and trying to decide which cow to shoot first, I caught sight of another set of glowing objects, taillights!

We arrived at the truck, and no sooner had I opened the door and taken the backpack and 10-year-old off than I saw the lights of the ATV heading towards us!

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Tony Jacques with his 18-point buck from Dunklin County, Missouri


An Epic Journey: Part 1

By Josh Gowan

I realize this title is a bit out of the norm for the outdoor column, but I assure you the journey I speak of is quite relevant. Besides, the rest of the outdoor news can be summed up fairly quickly this week. The cold front that pushed through sent most of the ducks south of the Heartland, and area hunters are waiting on new arrivals from the north that will hopefully point their “V’s” towards our stretch of the Upper Mississippi Valley. The deer hunting has been rather stagnant due to the rain and warmer temps that came through in the last few days. The crappie are right in the beginning stages of the “fall feeding frenzy” and if you can find a spot out of the wind, the tasty panfish are ripe for the plucking!

Alright, now on to my epic journey! I figured that if I titled the article “Youth Deer Hunting, Part 12” readers may begin to doubt the originality and freshness of my weekly attempts at journalism, and this story is not really about the hunt anyhow.

I was however back in the woods with my little counterpart, who despite his best effort, seems to send every deer in a 1-mile vicinity running for cover upon arrival. I have never worked this hard for anything in my life, and there are a significant number of ex-teachers and employers who will happily attest to this, some without even being asked. I figured that every deer near Current River and in West Kentucky had already seen, smelled, and heard the two of us, so I began actively looking for somewhere else to go. After delivering my woeful stories to a few buddies, someone finally felt sorry enough for us to invite us to their farm just outside of Poplar Bluff, where the deer were so thick they had to install traffic lights on the main trail crossings to avoid collisions (they tried a round-about first, but the deer couldn’t seem to wrap their head around the difference between clockwise and counter-clockwise.)

To make a long story less long, we arrived at the beautiful farm in the hills and every deer in the county began either burrowing in the ground or submerging themselves in the creek and using reeds to breathe, and the only thing we saw was a set of ears as a doe tunneled past us at 250-yards.

We were taken in via ATV across a large pasture filled with cows, down a trail in the woods, across a knee-deep creek, back up a longer trail in the woods, across an even larger pasture, and down two trails in the woods to a ground blind. We were to walk out of the woods at dark and would be picked up and taken back.

As it became dark enough to pack up, we gathered our things and began walking out of the woods. It was not yet dark enough to necessitate a flashlight, and as we arrived at the first pasture it had a very eerie look to it. In the dim light of dusk, it looked like a ghostly, aqua-green sea. Very “Scooby-doo-ish,” if you will. It began to rain, and we decided rather than to stand still and wait for the ATV which I heard or saw no sign of, that we should start making our way across the pasture, less we drown.

Walking across the pasture became increasingly creepy as the light faded. Our feet were barely visible, although the treetops were still in plain view. We crossed the pasture and arrived at the top of the long, descending trail in the woods, and with no sign of our taxi, I turned on my flashlight and we began walking.

I am no stranger to dark woods, and as long as I am not worried, my young companion is not worried. So without worry, about two-thirds of the way down, we jumped something very large in the woods, probably a deer, but possibly a Sasquatch. I was already trying to convince my son there was nothing to be afraid of as we were coming back down from record vertical leaps, which was especially impressive for me since I was carrying his gun and a massive backpack. I told him to stay behind me for the rest of the walk, as the single-shot .243 was our only means of protection, and if it was a bigfoot, I would have to make that shot count…

Stay tuned next week for part 2!


Trey Ivie and his son Gavin with Gavin’s 10-point buck he shot at 150 yards!


Great Opening Weekend Deer Hunting

By Josh Gowan

What an awesome opener to Missouri’s rifle season! The polar vortex and subsequent snowfall had the deer on their feet and running wide open in much of the state. Our friends in Tennessee are enjoying the same conditions, and freezers across the heartland are being stocked with delicious, nutritious venison, mine included!

My hunt was as much fun as I’ve had in the woods in a long time. Completely the opposite of last year’s opening weekend when record high temps and strong winds kept the deer tightly bedded down, a massive cold front descended on the northern part of the state in the middle of last week, and the rituals of the rut began. By Thursday evening the deer were running all over the place, and with more cold weather forecasted ahead it looked like the weekend would be perfect.

We decided to hunt our Lewis County farm in Northeast Missouri, which is my favorite farm to hunt as it has produced my two biggest deer to date.

It was just breaking daylight Saturday morning and the silence in the woods was broken by leaves crunching under heavy steps. As I eased around to face the direction of the disturbance, I heard another prominent indicator of incoming deer, a grunt! The doe came bounding by me in no particular direction, just playing hard to get I suppose, and the buck was not far behind, bellowing out his guttural proposal with every step.

The young 8-point was not what I was looking for, but the encounter alone was amazing. I’ve seen bucks chasing does, and I’ve heard grunts in the woods, but watching “the rut” in its final stage at close proximity was wild. The doe was sashaying if you will, flicking her tail like a lounge singer’s boa, stopping and starting in her aimless zig-zag through the woods, putting on to appear uninterested in her zealous beau, but frequently checking over her shoulder to make sure he was still there. There was no need to worry about such things, as the young buck was hot on her tail and like most males in the animal kingdom (and beyond…), would stop at nothing to “seal the deal”. His neck was swollen and his hair stood on end, giving the impression of larger size and supposed interspecies dominance, and if he could have manipulated his rack in the same manner he would have, and it would have been him filling my freezer!

As they disappeared out of sight, I took a few minutes to reflect on what I just witnessed, but was interrupted mid-reflection by another “crunch, crunch” of the leaves, followed by more guttural propositions!

I can’t really say how many deer I saw Saturday, but I’d estimate it around 35. It sounded like a warzone with shots echoing through the woods all morning, and I couldn’t help but to smile thinking about my “outdoor columnist counterpart” from KC and his well-documented conclusion that all the deer in Missouri were gone!

The snow began up there Saturday afternoon, and after a near-death experience on the icy roads driving to the farm, we found ourselves in a picturesque, snow-laden landscape that countless paintings have tried to emulate, but that only the brush of God himself could create, and no less on a Sunday morning.

Once again the deer were on the move, and the first one I saw was followed by eight more and a few bucks! They spent the better half of the morning running circles around me, down to the creek bottom, up the hillside, through the thicket and back. Knowing I’d have to leave by lunch on Sunday, I did as many do when time is fleeting, I lowered my standards! There has been 3 years since 2005 that I didn’t bring home a deer, (I know that because of the new “MO Hunting” app that lets you buy your license on your phone and shows you your telecheck history) and this would have been another, but while I looked through the scope at that same 8-point from opening morning that I let pass, I thought about my son who’s not killed a deer and asked me every night on the phone if I’d killed one, and of my loving wife whose last words before I left were “BRING ME SOME TENDERLOIN!!”, and I squeezed the trigger!

If you’ve been keeping up with my column and irritation over the allegations that our deer heard was drastically decreasing, we harvested 91,000+ deer over the weekend, 30,000 more than last year and 20,000 more than the year before when we set a new total harvest record! It all boils down to one thing, WEATHER!


13-year-old Mason Asher from Bernie, MO with his spike buck


Heartlander Abroad: Rend Lake, Il.

By Josh Gowan

I know my newfound love for Illinois is surprising, believe me, I am as shocked as anyone, but the Land of Lincoln really has a ton to offer for outdoorsmen. Although my budding writing career would lump me in the same tax bracket with a part-time AC repairman in the Arctic Circle if not for my day job and generous wife, there are some perks that go with job. One of which is attending “writer’s camps”.

This past weekend I was invited to the beautiful Rend Lake Resort for a camp that included six writers and six professional crappie teams. The idea behind these camps is for the teams to take out the writer’s so that we may take photos and get stories that will be seen in various magazines, websites, and so on. A handful of companies pick up the bill, and fishermen are under the gun to catch fish and basically do whatever the writer/photographer needs from them, in order to get the perfect shot. I’ve been to a few of these as the professional fisherman (lower budget camps!) but never as the writer, and man was it nice.

Kyle Schoenherr hosted the event, and worked tirelessly to make sure every writer got what they needed and every fisherman was in the right place and with the right person, and we were all fed, and so on. The actual fishing part of the entire event weighed heavily on Kyle’s shoulders too, as it was his home lake, and most of the rest of us had never been there, and man did he deliver! I decided Saturday afternoon that I should keep some crappie as my stock was dwindling, and I believe I cleaned around 80 fish this evening!

I’ve never been to a lake that seemed to have that many crappie in it! My room at the resort was perfectly situated about 30-feet from the restaurant and lounge (I forget the name, Reilly’s I believe, but the food was delicious!) which overlooked the lake, just like my room, and everything else it seemed! The one thing that immediately jumped out at me was the amount of people fishing from the empty boat slips that shot out from the resort on all sides and from every direction.

From dawn to dusk, there were fishermen, fisher-women, and fisher-kids, armed with short rods and a bucket, dropping jigs straight down beside the docks and pulling crappie after crappie after floppin’ crappie out of the water! Granted there are plenty of small fish, but the lake limit is 25 crappie, 15 under 10-inches and 10 over 10-inches, and the fish were very healthy with thick “shoulders”, so even the 9-inch crappie still yielded good filets.

I spent Friday and the first half of Saturday “working”, taking pictures that is, but the first break in the action, I managed to scrounge up a rod, reel, line, and some jigs (I didn’t bring anything, but there was no shortage) and found myself among new friends yanking crappie from beside the boat slips.

Saturday afternoon, I went out with fellow B’n’M Pro Staffer Rodney Neuhaus in a very stumpy, shallow part of the lake that had a good bit of underwater cover as well. We put out six poles, which is the limit in Illinois, and about an hour and a half before dusk, the bite turned on full force! I had the GoPro on a long pole up behind us, and after I get it edited together I’ll share it on my website.

Sunday morning found me in the boat with Russ Bailey, casting small bobbers a few feet over small jigs, right up against the riprap, or rock banks. We were reeling in crappie every other cast, and although we threw back plenty of small fish, we put quite a few in the livewell!

We also caught crappie shooting docks, vertical jigging, and long-line trolling! Like I said, I’ve never been to a lake that seemed to have crappie everywhere, and I can’t wait to get back! The Rend Lake Resort and Restaurant was absolutely perfect, and I am booking a trip and taking the entire family the first chance I get!


Youth Deer Season, Again


Youth Deer Season, Again

By Josh Gowan

Youth deer season, that time honored tradition when precarious adolescences are escorted into the wild by the seasoned outdoorsman in their life, in hopes of encountering the majestic whitetail deer, and subsequently assassinating your majesty by means of a lead projectile through the lungs. A challenging adventure for both; the youth, thrust into the woods in the dark, surrounded by sights and sounds that are quite foreign, and the instructor, tasked with both protection and patience, in a constant attempt to muffle the young hunter while holding their fickle interest and answering their relentless questions. That is the essence of the “easy part”, then there’s the small matter of actually shooting a deer!

I spent the weekend back in one of my favorite places on Earth, Mark Twain National Forrest in the Ozarks of Missouri, with my favorite hunting partner, my 9-year-old son Jameson. We were joined by our Ozarks guide and resident “PaPa” Perry Jackson, with help from his longtime friend, Mike Hill. I initially wanted my son to have the same wonderful experiences I remember, having to “rough it” in a camp in the woods, no electricity, running water, or proper facilities, but that would mean I would have to put myself through the same “wonderful experience”, so as is the case with fathers and sons, he got it a lot easier than I did!

What has now become a staple in our youth season tradition, our accommodations for the third year running were at The Landing, a gorgeous resort that towers over Current River, a pristine, crystal clear river that cuts through the hills of the Ozarks. Every room is waterfront, and waking up to a bright November moon glistening off the spring-fed current is worth the trip in itself. The river is void of partying tourists this time of year, and our only company was the increasing number of father and son hunters taking advantage of the comfort, convenience, and scenery, as well as the off-season rates. The Landing offers the nicest lodging in the area, floating trips, houses The Blue Heron restaurant (the finest of fine dining along the river) with chef Bobby King at the helm, and has an incredible multi-purpose event center in The River Centre that you really have to see to believe. For a look at the layout go to or give them a call at 573-323-8156, you won’t be disappointed!

Now back to the hunt and my young apprentice, who eases through the woods like a crashing zeppelin, his stealth only bested by his vast knowledge of botany, with his primary emphasis on sticks. He can spot a prized specimen in a pile of otherwise common branches from 20-feet away, and in a matter of a few seconds examine and categorize said stick, either deeming it worthy of his collection or discarding it back to the forest floor. By the time we reached the deer stand, had it not already been equipped with its’ own 15-foot ladder, we’d have had the material on hand to construct one, along with a lean-to shed and a few rocking chairs.

We saw deer on every hunt, but were still unable to get the shot we were looking for. This is the closest we’ve come to harvesting his first deer, with us in perfect position on two occasions, only lacking cooperation from our would-be prey, but that is the nature of hunting. We’re not even close to being finished for the year, and come hell or high water, this will be the year he takes his first deer.

The conversations we shared over the weekend, many had with our foreheads nearly touching and in the quietest of whispers, are priceless memories. After an hour of him playing a game on my phone while I methodically scanned the woods, he grabbed my leg and said “DAD!” in a whisper-yell. I leaned in slowly with wide eyes thinking he’d seen a deer, only for him to ask what tactic I would use to defend myself from a cheetah attack…

As we were leaving I pulled up the roadmap app on my phone to make sure I was going the right way, and in the search box the last destination that was entered was still there: Atlantis!


Josh Gowan with a couple Illinois crappie


Drop-shotting for Illini Slabs

By Josh Gowan

Oh sweet fall, how I adore thee! The leaves are a turnin’ my friends, and if there was anything I could do to accelerate the process I’d be on it. The crappie are biting at every lake in the Midwest right now, so if you’re not in a tree waiting on a big buck, get out there and go fishing!

Being that I will be afield and “awater” for the next three weekends, I was intent on spending every minute with my wife and son, and getting some real quality family time in the books. We watched movies, played some board games, and kicked the ball around in the yard, and by noon on Saturday I’d worn them out. Apparently my wife, who’s quite the detective, somehow noticed that I was going stir-crazy (possibly the exaggerated sighs and longing looks out the window, I can’t be sure). I tried to get them out of the house, but to no avail, and after the third time I read the weather for Sunday, she suggested that I should get out of her hair for a while in the morning, probably an “absence makes the heart grow fonder” sort of thing.

I managed to find someone else who was not only feeling as cooped up as me, but who also had a wife that was happily sending him off, my old fishing buddy and stepdad Perry Jackson. Our wives even made us sandwiches and packed our drinks!

We left Seabough’s Bait and Tackle in Jackson, Missouri at a little after 5am, and made the hour drive to Lake Kinkaid, Illinois well before the sun came up. We were trying a new tactic to catch our favorite panfish, drop-shotting for crappie. About a month ago I wrote an article for about this tactic, using professional fisherman and guide Kyle Schoenherr as a source, who fishes Kinkaid regularly, so we went back and read the piece as a refresher.

The drop-shot is much like a double-crappie rig, except the sinker (1/2-ounce) is on the bottom, with two light-wire crappie hooks on short leaders above it. The bottom hook is just 4 or 5-inches above the sinker, and the top hook is a few feet above it. Lake Kinkaid has phenomenal water quality and clarity, much like Norfolk Lake in Arkansas, which results in healthy crappie that spend most of their time in depths of at least 15-feet.

The idea is to drive around and find deep brush piles, which is a breeze with the Humminbird Side-Imaging Depthfinders, and throw a marker buoy on them. Then you pull up to the marker buoy with the trolling motor, and with a live minnow on each hook, drop your sinker to the bottom. We were fishing 25-foot deep, so a spinning reel on 10 or 11-foot jig poles were the ticket.

Here’s where it gets weird. Once your sinker is on the bottom, you start bouncing and swinging it around on the bottom until you get hung up, and then you fish. Getting intentionally hung up is out of the norm for most of us, but the idea is to drop that sinker down through the middle of a brush pile, and your hooks are always hanging on a limb. However with the sinker at the bottom, you can pick it up and drop it back down and get “unhung” very easily. You are in constant contact with the brush, and if you don’t feel anything, you’ve drifted off the brush and need to find it again.

Once we were in the brush, we were getting “THUMPED” fairly often, and managed a good mess of thick shouldered crappie by noon. After catching a few out of one spot, we’d ease on and find another one, and repeat the process. It was a blast and I can’t wait to do it again, as Kyle said the fishing only gets better as it gets colder.

If you’d like to read more about this and other methods, look up and click on the “CRAPPIE” tab, and for information on booking a trip with Kyle, go to!