My last month’s adventure will be one I will never forget. After finishing up the April issue, my friend Al Schackow and I were all set for our bucket list trip to Lake Grenada in Grenada, MS. A year ago, I saw Derek Martin and his son from TopHat Jigs was in Grenada fishing with Carlos Willis. I have always wanted to take this trip but just never really ever got around to it. I knew I had to get a trip scheduled to Lake Grenada before I put it off and never make the trip. It seems Al and I are always working on a house project and instead of taking pay, he prefers that I plan a trip and that will be his payment. Hard to turn down getting your bathroom redone and the payment you get to go catch giant crappie. So, the next logical thing was to get the trip scheduled and get the house project complete.
After talking with Derek and hearing his excitement, I knew the trip I was going to plan was a couple of days in Grenada with Carlos Willis. After getting Carlos’s number I called him and set up a couple of dates in late March which everyone I spoke to thought we would be going at the perfect time.
As the days grew closer, my excitement begin to grow. Just a few weeks ago I caught my largest crappie of my life and it seemed to be a guarantee I would one up this week.
Al and I set off on Thursday morning in order to get there by mid afternoon so we could check into our hotel and take a look around the lake and maybe wet a line to see if we could catch our first Grenada Lake crappie.
We arrived around 2:30pm in the afternoon and we pulled into the hotel. When we pulled into the parking lot, I realized I may have not made the best decision. See I have stayed in places that most people probably wouldn’t. I just need a place to sleep and take a shower. I don’t plan on sitting in a hotel when there is a lake close by.
We walked into the hotel and the doors to the lobby were locked. They had a little night window so we looked in there and a lady rudely said “What you want”. I said we were here to check in and wanted to see if we could get our room. She said no we don’t allow check in until 3pm. Ok its 2:45pm at this point but I am not interested in starting the trip this way. We decided to take a trip around the lake, get some lunch and head back to check in.
A couple of hours had past so we went back to the hotel, and as we arrived there was a lady crying hysterically and the lady I spoke to earlier yelling at her. She once again says “what you want” I said I am here to check in. She looks at us and says are you sure? Well, I paid for it so not sure I have a choice. She said, “We didn’t charge you, here is a card, go look at one of our better rooms and let me know if you still want to say”. Well if that is not a red flag I don’t know what is. I checked my account and they hadn’t charged me so we looked at the room and needless to say we walked back out and handed the card back. So don’t stay at the America’s Best Value Inn in Grenada. We went just down the block to the Econo Lodge and it was just fine. There are many hotels there that are great, we just didn’t want to spend $150 a room so we settled on $75 at the Econo Lodge.
After our hotel fiasco, it was time to go hit the water. We grabbed some minnow and decided to head to the spillway to do some fishing. There were a lot of people there so we found a spot and started fishing. After a couple of hours of fishing with no luck, I finally had a nice strike. It was giving up a great fight, and I thought I finally had a big crappie. Until I got it to the surface and realized that was not the case. Oh well the first fish of the trip was released. With no other luck we headed to get some Barbecue from Magnolia’s Smokehouse Grill and if you are ever in Grenada, MS you have to stop by there. Some of the best barbecue and smoked meats I have ever eaten.
After eating supper, we talked with Carlos and arranged our meeting location for the next morning. Luckily, we had a long day so we were able to get to sleep at a decent time. We arrived around 6:30am on Friday morning to meet Carlos and we set off for the ramp. We loaded the boat in and set off on our first day of fishing.
It seemed most of the people were spider rigging using livescope but we were chasing the bigger fish. We didn’t come from Illinois to catch 12” fish we want to catch 14” plus. This was both mine and Al’s first time ever using livescope and a 16’ pole. It really took some getting used to and really would take some time on the water to master. I have to say Carlos was a great guide in teaching us how the livescope worked, how to position yourself over the motor, and really teaching us everything we needed to know to be successful. I had a heck of a time wanting to go left and right to follow the fish on the screen when I should be reaching out over the motor or bring it back to me. I can honestly say I got better at it, but I’m still at the beginner level.
One thing about Grenada Lake is it is not very deep. We were fishing in 6 to 7 feet of water and catching fish as shallow as 6 inches. You could even see the fish or bait on livescope. We chased bigger fish around all day. We were able to get some really nice crappie. Many of our fish were between 13 ½” to 14”. Our biggest fish on day one was a 15” 2.05lb slab of crappie. Carlos would keep finding fish that he would say looked to be around 3 lbs but they just were stubborn and would not bite on day one. We ended up with 22 nice crappies.
After getting some lunch, we thought we might try and see if we could catch a few fish to finish out our limit for the day. We have been watching wading videos for a few weeks, so we were prepared to give it a shot. We followed the crowd and tried our hand at wade fishing, but we didn’t have any luck. Carlos told us the next day if the water was three feet higher it would have been prime time to be fishing in waders.
On day two, the winds were supposed to kick up even more and it is much easier to catch the fish with calmer waters as well as much easier to control the boat. I was amazed at the boat control that Carlos had. We jumped around to several spots trying to stay out of the wind. The bite was a little slower but we were finding some nice big fish but man they just didn’t want to bite.
With a couple of hours left on day 2, we headed to a cove to get out of the wind and see if we could find a couple of big crappie. We ran into another monster and finally I was able to get it in front of her face and she slammed it. I set the hook saw her roll on the surface and boom break the line. I was only a foot down and I assume I set the hook to hard on her. It was my chance at a 3lb crappie, and I failed. Unfortunately, I never had another opportunity at a giant, but the trip was just as fun as any I have ever been on. Besides, now I have a reason to head back next year to get one for the wall. We ended day two with 20 crappies.
As we finished our trip, I asked Carlos to show us how this is done by a professional. He worked his butt off for two days putting us on fish. They may not have always wanted to bite, but he put us where the fish were time after time. I wanted to see how he did it and I was sure he was going to make it look much easier than we did. We looked around for maybe a couple of minutes and he saw a fish. He worked the trolling motor right to the fish and put the pole out, stopped it right in front of the crappies face and boom it was hooked and in the boat. I must say I was almost embarrassed on how easy he made it look. I also know he has been doing this a lot longer than we have. I really appreciate his patience with us, and he was a very good teacher when it came to livescope. If you want to take the trip of your life, give Carlos Willis a call at 662-809-7470 you won’t be disappointed. You can also check him out on facebook at Carlos Willis Fishing.
Now that our time with the guide was over, we had one more day to try and find some crappie off the bank. We picked Carlos’s brain a little and he was nice enough to send us a pin on a place to potentially catch some fish from the bank.
We grabbed some breakfast on our last morning there then headed to Turkey Creek. We arrived and the first thing we saw was a guy catching crappie. We also noticed several people over in the shallows wade fishing so we knew we were at least in a good spot. We started walking the creek and I would stop on every piece of wood sticking up. After about five minutes and a couple of brush piles, I felt the thump. Up comes a 13 ½ crappie. Finally, we found one while fishing the bank. We fished there most of the day until my bald head looked like a stop sign. We could never find a school of fish in the sticks, but every now and then we would get a thump. We ended with 8 fish on the day and were ready to pack up and get ready to head for home.
We had a great time and I look forward to going back next year. Just another trip to add to the books.
Until next month. May your sunrises and sunsets be magical!