There are a lot of crappie teams who dream of winning most tournaments they enter and making a big name in the national tournament world. That’s precisely what Team Jeffries is doing.
They are lighting it up catching crappie and cashing checks.
Hayden Jeffries and his dad, Dan Jeffries, are one of the hottest crappie teams in the country. Their success is shared due to a lifetime of living the outdoor lifestyle and the sheer determination and commitment of the 22-year-old Hayden.
“Dad brought me up in the outdoors hunting and fishing and has helped me keep my head screwed on straight,” said Hayden Jeffries. “But as far as crappie fishing, I am self-taught. I have basically taught myself by spending countless hours on the water. It’s been learning as you go and trial and error. I am still learning today.”
The Jeffries team is from Brandon, Miss., and got their start tournament crappie fishing with the Magnolia Crappie Club, where they have dominated, winning tournaments and points championships. They also won the state championship with the South Arkansas Crappie Club at Grand Lake in July of this year.
In late February this year, the Jeffries won first place on Lake D’Arbonne in Farmerville, La., at the Crappie Masters National Qualifier, taking home the $10,000 first-place prize. And in May they won the American Crappie Trail Tournament on Lake Washington in Mississippi, bringing home a $9,500 payout. They have been successful everywhere they have gone and if they aren’t in the winner’s circle, they’ve been in the money and cashing checks.
The here and now
Hayden is graduating from Mississippi College with a degree in Business Administration. He’s been fishing since he could walk. His dad put a baitcaster in his hand and taught him how to bass fish when he was four or five years old.
“I have been crappie fishing for about seven years, but I got hardcore with it about two years ago,” said Hayden. “I own and operate a full-time guide service and book six days a week and occasionally, seven.”
Jeffries’ guide service is mainly on the Ross Barnett Reservoir near Jackson, Miss. If you would like to book a crappie fishing trip and spend some time with a pro, Hayden is your man. The best place to hook up with Jeffries is on his Facebook page, Hayden Jeffries Fishing.
Hayden spends as much time as possible on the water — he lives and breathes it. Even his leisure time is spent fishing.
“I may deer hunt twice a year, but when I get a free afternoon, I will bass fish,” he said. “Then again, there’s nothing else like getting on a bream bed. And I also like catching a catfish or two.”
What lies ahead
Nothing is etched in stone for Hayden when it comes to plans for the future, but he does have some things in mind.
“As of now, I will keep guiding and taking things as they come,” he said. “I plan to keep pushing fishing however I can while I am young and go wherever the road leads me.”
Tournaments are center stage in the immediate future for Team Jeffries.
“The plan is to fish at the National level a lot more,” said Hayden. “I will be fishing the new Elite Trail that’s starting up, all of Crappie Masters, and most of American Crappie Trail (ACT) if it works out. I will be at the Mr. Crappie Invitational on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Mo., in October; it’s the biggest crappie tournament in the country. There’s some real money involved with it — I’d like to bring that back home.”
What a pro uses
Have you ever wondered what equipment a pro crappie fisherman puts to use? Here are a few things that Hayden Jeffries has shared that he uses when guiding and tournament fishing.
“I run a Humminbird Helix 12 GN3 for my mapping units and side imaging,” he said. “A Garmin 8616 with LiveScope is what I use for live imaging. I run a Minn Kota Ultrex 112 trolling motor and two 50-pound trolling motors on the rear of the boat. My favorite rod is the 16-foot K-Rod made by Power Crappie — that’s what I do all my tournament fishing with. For reels, I use inexpensive baitcast reels; some of them are Abu Garcia.”
Hayden ties some of his own lures for crappie, usually hair jigs. He doesn’t produce any to sell, but they are strategically made for what he needs to specifically target crappie in different lakes.
“My go-to bait is a 1/16-ounce hair jig, which I tie myself,” he said. “For Ross Barnett, it would be black, pink, and chartreuse.
“I’ve been tying them for over a year-and-a-half. It’s nice to win a tournament on a bait you’ve made. I won a tournament this past spring on a bait I tied by catching a 3.84-pound crappie.”
Team Jeffries has recently gone with a little larger boat because of having to fish a multitude of bigger waters, purchasing a Ranger 522.
“Our Skeeter FX 20 has been a good boat and done well,” said Hayden. “If you are fishing a tournament and the wind is blowing 20 miles per hour, you have to fight it and get to where the crappie are. I think the bigger Ranger will get me there.”
Tips for fall crappie
It can get tricky when September rolls around when it comes to filling your creel of crappie. In August, most lakes usually have an abundance of shad, and the crappie are hitting them hard for accessible and abundant meals. This will carry over into September, making it hard for anglers to compete. Hayden offers some advice for success.
“The bite gets tough in early fall,” he said. “Sometimes all a crappie has to do is open his mouth, and there’s something in it. I fish for big concentrations of fish, and presentation plays a big part in catching fish this time of year.”
In the fall, the big schools of crappie will be breaking up and moving into deeper water. Open water fishing using live imaging sonar (LIS) works well.
“I used to spider rig fish until I got good with the LiveScope,” said Hayden. “Now, I use only one rod all the time, targeting individual fish. The LiveScope is where it’s at.”
Hayden’s all-time favorite method for crappie is usually in the spring using a jig with a cork, especially around cypress trees or grass.
Be on the lookout
Keep a close eye on the national crappie fishing news and at pro crappie tournament weigh-ins. It’s a good bet that you will continue to see big wins for Team Jeffries. They are on fire and pumped up for a fall full of national tournaments just ahead.
The team is sponsored by Hook and Bullet, Power Crappie LLC: Home of Todd Huckabee Rods, BeatDown Outdoor Products, Crappie Forever, The Crappie Connection, Custom Lithium Batteries By The Mad Scientist, Car Zone USA and Southern Chase Crappie Jigs.
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