Rippin’ Lips with Mark Drazba Jr.

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Fishing partners Mark Drazba Jr. and Kenny Wilkinson showing off winning crappie after a recent tournament.

It’s now the heat of summer and many of us have been starting to dream of that magical fall bite to get here, when a light jacket, cool breeze and changing leaves soothes the soul. Unfortunately, we’re just not to that point yet. Remember as a kid how summer used to feel like it lasted forever and the days are long? As an adult, I’ve realized how time flies and how time is valuable!  That is why I enjoy crappie fishing, once you determine a pattern you don’t have to spend all day looking for a limit, unless that’s part of your plan to spend the day, which is never a bad way to spend time.

The dog days of summer is still a great time to put some slabs in the boat.  Crappie are in full swing of the summer pattern and are not passing up any easy meals! Let’s recap on where to look for them slabs.

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Summer time fishing at its finest as Mark Drazba Jr. holds up a nice crappie caught on Mark Twain Lake.

The lake is finally at normal pool elevation and the crappie have settled into the areas they like to spend the summer. If you got a secret honey hole, that’s good, in the summer, chances are it’s producing some of them taste crappie. Summer time crappie can be found right now on main lake rock walls with standing timber. Most trees, but not all will have crappie around them. Bridge pillars will also hold some crappie this time of year. Most of the fish will be found 7-12 feet deep. Like I said last month, a lot of people over look this next area for crappie, but timber flats is a main place I look for summertime crappie. I’ll give you a run down of my recent Crappie Masters tournament and what we did here in just a min! Timber flats as shallow as 6 feet have been producing fish all the way to 12 feet deep. Water clarity also plays a big role in depth this time of year.

Water clarity can sometimes be over looked to a unexperienced angler. The more muddy the water, the more shallow you can catch them. The Clearer the water, the deeper they will go. Crappie love cover. Cover can even be the dark cover from muddy water. From my experience, Twain crappie do not like fresh muddy water. The more stained dirty water is more of a preference for crappie in my opinion. Water clarity also determines the color of bait I use this time of year as well as size of bait.

Bait selection during muddy water I lean on a black/Chartreuse Thumper Jig and I’ll add a small willow blade on my line to help give off a vibration. Muddy water forces crappie to use more than just eye site when feeding. So I try and give them scent like crappie nibble, a live minnow, or willow blades to help them locate my bait. This time of year the shad schools are small and a couple inches long so I tend to downsize my bait to match the shad. If I’m fishing cleaner water down lake I’ll usually-- find fish a little deeper and my bait selection will be a more realistic color. I’ll use silvers, whites, light blues some chartreuse is almost good no matter water clarity.

My partner and I recently fished the Mark Twain Lake Crappie Masters tournament and competed against 71 other teams with many of them being some of the best in the country in the tournament world. Many teams have won several championships and are a force to be reckoned with, no matter what lake they are on, they know how to find and catch the big Crappie. My partner, Kenny Wilkinson and I made out with an 11th place finish out of a 72 boat field.

If you have never fished a tournament I encourage you to give it a try, if you like to compete. It is a adrenaline rush like no other. Fishing hours were from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and we had to be in the weigh in line by 3:30 p.m.. We started out fishing the upper lake (above 107 bridge).  We found our fish pre-fishing in 6-12 foot of water and that stayed consistent all week, so tournament day that’s what we did. We looked for brush, stumps, and stake beds in that depth range and located many big fish. We came away with 7.92 pounds on our 7 biggest fish. We had a couple errors during the day and lost one big fish that would of helped us tremendously and then missed some other really good bites that we could tell were big fish on our Garmin Live Scope electronics. Had we gotten the missed fish in the boat, we might have finished the day in a higher finish, but that’s why its called fishing!

We used 10 Foot Poles and had Thumper Hair Jigs on as well as Bobby Garland rubber baits on Thumper Pill heads. The key to being successful is the make a plan and stick with it, sometimes it works sometimes it don’t. Overall our goal was a top 10 finish and we came in just shy of that by just 4/100th of a ounce. Yeah it was that close.  

First place brought in a stringer of 9.78 which is outstanding for Twain. I encourage you to get out and check out a weigh in and pick the brains to the guys that fished the tournament. Most of them are great guys that are quick to give knowledge to anyone that wants to learn.

Take advantage of this summer weather and get out and put some fish in the boat. If you don’t like the heat then beat it by getting out early in the mornings or late in the evenings. Fish are always biting somewhere, we just have to find them. Once you find them, get ready to fill the live wells!

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As always take a kid fishing, you teach them to fish and to love it and they will never have money for trouble!

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