Clayton: Week of the creek
As guide Chris Moody eased the throttle back on his big guide boat last week, I could make out the mouth of a wide feeder creek entering Richland Chambers Reservoir. Once inside the creek, we were in a totally different world; a world I expect few people experience. No other fishermen had ventured into the remote area. The shorelines were lined with giant trees and plants of all sorts in bloom. The spring woods were just coming to life with pale green colors, the morning air was crisp and fresh; it was a great morning to be alive and Chris and our friend Larry Weishuhn and I were absorbing every minute detail of our adventure. Chris shut the big engine off, using the trolling motor to ease us along from one brushy area to the next, the only sounds were an occasional wood duck or heron taking wing or the chatter of a squirrel, spooked by our intrusion into their tranquil world. We were here to catch spawning crappie that had chased huge schools of shad into the slowly moving current.
Chris Moody has made a huge name for himself as a trophy gar fishing guide on the Trinity River. His clientele come from all over the world to do battle with these prehistoric fish that have changed little through the eons. But Chris grew up fishing for just about every species that will tug on his fishing line and also has a passion for catching crappie. During the winter months when the weather is bad, he enjoys tying an assortment of handmade crappie jigs. I had one of his black/chartreuse jigs on my crappie pole and at our first stop; I eased it down through the limbs of a brushy tree top that had fallen into the water. The jig was instantly attacked by a barndoor crappie. The drill for catching crappie in heavy brush is to keep pressure on the fish, hoping to get his head coming toward the surface rather than allow the fish to thread the line through the tangle of brush. I watched Larry Weishuhn snap the tip of his rod high and he also was connected with a big crappie. In the next fifteen minutes we pulled six or eight crappie from that first spot. It was clear we were going to be in for a banner morning of crappie fishing.
Chris employs years of old school fishing experience with ultra modern equipment. We fished our way a mile or so back into the creek, hitting likely spots such as lay down trees and shoreline brush. We still needed ten fish to round out our limits when Chris turned on his Livescope and we began fishing around stumps and downed trees below the surface. It’s exciting to actually see the fish on the Livescope’s screen, watch the jig fall and then see the crappie hit the bait before feeling the bite through the rod. When we again reached the mouth of the creek, I gave a a backward glance toward the wild country we had just fished. There is something very special about fishing a creek during early spring with great friends, especially when crappie are biting like crazy!
The Creek Adventures continues
Later last week, I met my buddy Jeff Rice up at his place on Lake Fork. The plan was to spend a couple days catching spawning white bass, hunting hogs and running our trotline set in the bend of a creek. We were successful on all ventures but did have to make some ‘adjustments’ to our plan along the way. We wanted to bait the trotline with perch caught with a cast net out of a pond on Jeff’s place. We’re both proficient at throwing a 4 foot castnet (opens to 8 feet) but on close inspection, we discovered the one we purchased was a six foot net (opens to 12 feet). We spooked a lot of perch but didn’t catch a single one. These bigger nets require some practice that we didn’t have time to accomplish! But, we were hog hunting that night and hogs were coming regularly to the feeders. Chances were good we would get some fresh pork. What about pork liver for trotline bait? What could be better! Just before dark, I shot a fat younger boar that provided some great pork for us and…. liver for our trotline the next morning. At daylight we set the trotline and baited with fresh pork liver. Then, off down the creek with ultralight spinning rigs, downsized Roadrunner jigs and Beetle Spins. We fished a bend of the creek below a logjam and landed some big white bass and tasty smaller yellow bass for the noon fish fry. The trick to catching fish was working the little baits very slowly, close to bottom.
We built a cooking fire down by the creek within view of the trotline and cooked and ate a meal of fried white bass and potato salad. I can’t describe just how tasty the fish were cooked in my big cast iron skillet over wood but there wasn’t a morsel of fish left when we finished our meal! We did eat rather hurriedly because the limb the trotline was tied to was bending heavily, indicating some fish were on the line! After the fish fry, we pulled eleven nice channel catfish off our trotline, one we estimated to weigh around 8 pounds.
This week will be long remembered as the ‘week of the creek’, great times with awesome friends fishing in remote waters frequented by very few people. May this lifestyle go on forever!
For trips for trophy gar on the Trinity River or crappie, catfish or white bass trips on Richland Chambers, Contact guide Chris Moody at www.garfishingaddiction.com or call 903 780 4662.
Email outdoors writer Luke Clayton through his website www.catfishradio.org