Hodge has a dream day with Bussey Brake slab crappie
For Shane Hodge, Sunday afternoon, Feb. 27, was just one of those days crappie fishermen dream about. The sun was shining. The temperature warmed up and he got to go fishing. And while he was fishing, he caught some crappie. Some big crappie.
The slabs were biting at Bussey Brake. And the Farmerville angler caught the second largest white crappie ever landed in Louisiana. When certified, his big 3.65 slab will move into the second spot in the state record book. Ironically, that spot had been held by another Bussey crappie caught just one year ago, a 3.60 pounder caught by James Anthony Griffin of Bastrop.
The afternoon started with several big crappie biting the 1/16-ounce black and white hair jig that Hodge ties himself. That included a 2.86 pounder that was Hodge’s personal best. But not for long. A few minutes later, he landed the 3.65 pound crappie.
“This was one of those days that you dream of,” Hodge said. “Catching my personal best twice in one day, that was awesome. And to be able to weigh it and find out it was almost a state record. That’s something. But there was a whole lot more to this story. That just makes it all the more fun.”
More to the story
The rest of the story includes how Hodge even ended up fishing at Bussey on this day to start with. Missouri professional fisherman Matthew Rogers had been in the area for a tournament and stayed over to fish Bussey with Justin Bailey of Farmerville. When they started catching fish, they texted fellow pro Steve Adams of Farmerville, he called Hodge and off they went to join the fun.
It didn’t take them long to get in the action. Adams and Hodge were taking turns on crappie they were spotting on their live sonar and Adams was up front. Adams actually hooked the big fish and brought it right up to the top and it came off. Hodge didn’t see it because he was reaching for the net, but Adams said it was a whopper.
After adjusting to what happened for a few seconds, they began scanning the area with the electronics and saw the big fish swimming back slowly toward the bushes.
“Steve threw a bait at him again, but it didn’t bite, so Steve told me to cast at it and I flipped my jig out there and he ate it,” Hodge said. “We knew it was a big one, but had no idea how big until it came up and rolled on its side. Steve scooped it up with the net and we stopped and weighed it on his scale. It weighed 3.63 on his portable scale. We put it in the livewell and we knew we needed to come get it weighed officially. But we had a hard time leaving because the big fish just kept biting.”
Big fish feeding
Hodge said it was pretty apparent what the big fish were doing.
“They are up that thick, thick brush getting ready to spawn and it’s hard to get a boat up in there where they are,” Hodge said. “It’s also hard to even get a bait up in there. If you make too much noise trying, you spook the fish off. But what was happening Sunday is that the big fish decided to feed. They would swim out in the open water and chase shad, then swim back up into the cover. We actually saw several of them swim out, grab bait and then swim back in the thick stuff. That’s how we caught fish. We were able to get a bait in front of some of them before they went back in the cover.”
They took the fish all the way back home to Farmerville to get it weighed, where Bailey opened up K&M Coffee Corks and Camo to use the certified scales. The Louisiana State record white crappie weighed 3.80 pounds and was caught by Tim Ricca on Lake Verret in May, 2010.
Bussey has become a catch-and-release lake for most bass and crappie anglers. It does have strict limits since re-opening. For anglers keeping crappie, that is 25 fish with a 10-inch minimum length.
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