Dept. of Wild: The Crappie Thump

Back in 2005, I had the amazing opportunity to dive with and hand feed “Splash”, the 121-pound blue catfish caught by angler Cody Mullenix on Lake Texoma.

The fish was brought in alive and housed at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. My goal for the dive was to establish the perspective of a diver encountering a catfish of record proportions for an article I was doing about the legends of giant catfish below dams.

Before the dive, the dive master handed me a mesh bag with a few koi and a rainbow trout to feed “Splash” and another full of shiners and crickets to feed the bass and perch. After achieving the goal of hand-feeding the giant catfish and having someone photograph to show the scale of such a huge catfish and a grown man, I took a few minutes to feed the other fish.

My eyes were immediately drawn to a massive crappie in the tank. The fish had to be every bit of three pounds and as soon as I broke out the food, it started my direction. I held out a shiner toward it and was amazed as the fish slowly swam up to it, stopped and then blew a hard jet of water over my shiner (and my fingers) a second or two before lunging forward and inhaling it. The fish repeated this process every time as I observed with astonishment. It was extremely cautious on the approach then came the blast of water followed by the attack.”

After catching of few of these super-sized slabs on Sam Rayburn, it did not take long to connect the dots between my diving experience and the bites of these big fish. These trophy crappie in my opinion were either testing or shocking the bait before the strike.

My fishing guide friend Roger Bacon often feeds the crappie, a little line by peeling it off the spool of his Falcon spinning reels and then sets the hook when he thinks it is a big one.

“We catch a lot of the bigger fish like that,” he said.

Now I know why.

Chester Moore, Jr.

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