If you were a betting man, the odds might be in your favor if you put down a wager on Bussey Brake Reservoir as the spot to give up the next state record crappie in Louisiana.
Local fisherman Anthony Griffith isn’t a pro fisherman with a lot of fancy equipment, but he was in the right place at the right time on Jan. 30 at the 2,200 acre lake. Griffith dropped a green and gold hand-tied Jimmy Watt hair jig up in the flooded bushes at Bussey and pulled out a 3.60 pound slab white crappie. He had it weighed on certified scales and is submitting it to the Louisiana State Fish Records. When certified, it will be the No. 2 white crappie ever caught in Louisiana.
“I’m not going to lie,” Griffith said. “When that fish came up and rolled on the top of the water, it was so awesome it scared me. I said ‘Oh, Lord, help me get this fish in the boat’. I caught it without a LiveScope, no side imaging, just old school single poling. I fish with a 10-foot B’n’M Tree Thumper. I was just in the right place at the right time.”
Griffith was just sitting out in his boat enjoying the morning, when he felt a pretty solid thump on his line.
“When I set the hook, nothing happened for a few seconds,” he said. “It just sat there. I thought I was hung. But then it moved. I didn’t know what was going on until it rolled on top of the water. Then, oh my goodness. I switched my pole to my left hand, grabbed my little landing net and scooped it up. I don’t have a very big net and at first, I didn’t think I could even fit it in the net.”
What’s really interesting is that another fishermen told him that somebody else had been sitting in the very spot fishing for quite a while, but was pulling out to leave when Griffith got there. So he just pulled in, tied up and in a few minutes “BAM,” he felt the thump of the big slab. Griffith said he landed the whopper fish a few minutes after 9 a.m. Saturday morning and he knows the time because he snapped his first picture of it at 9:07 on his iPhone.
Catch and release
The rest is a story in itself. He was keeping the fish alive in his livewell with the aerators running. There are no certified scales at the lake, so he took it to a local man, Roy Riles, who had a set of bass tournament scales. When they saw how much it weighed, he realized he had to find a set of certified scales even though they knew the first scales were accurate. So he put it in a 72 quart K2 cooler full of fresh water and went down the road to a local deer processor, Hammond’s, and weighed it again on their USDA certified scales. It was consistent — 3.60 pounds.
Wait, the story gets better. Griffith is a self professed “weekend fisherman” and he did want to do a mount of his “catch of a lifetime,” but he also wanted to release the fish. So he took all the measurements to have a replica made, loaded the fish back in the ice chest full of water and headed back to Bussey.
He backed down to the lake, took the big fish out, turned her loose and watched her swim away as several astounded fishermen stood by watching with their mouths open! One of them was a small boy who was fishing off the pier at the main boat dock.
“We’ve got something special here and I hope people will take care of it so it stays special for a long time,” the 48-year-old Griffith said. “Maybe that fish will just keep on growing and some young fisherman like that boy that watched me release the fish can catch it one day and it will be the state record.”
Bussey’s first winter back
If the trend at Bussey this winter and spring continues, anglers may not have to wait long until a state record is caught. Just last week, Bussey fisherman J.C. Morgan landed a 3.32 black crappie and has also submitted it for the state records, where it will be No. 6 in the rankings when certified. This is the first winter/spring period that the lake has been open in almost 10 years after being closed and refurbished by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. It has been restocked, but these fish are obviously some of the old brood fish that were left in the lake all along.
When certified, it will be the No. 2 white crappie ever caught in Louisiana. Griffith’s catch surpasses the previous No. 2 white crappie caught by Twayne Hosea at Poverty Point in February 2016. The top white crappie is 3.80 caught by Tim Ricca in Lake Verret in May of 2010. The state record black crappie weighed 3.84 pounds and was caught by Jan Causey at Poverty Point in April 2020.
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