(First of a two-part series)
More than 40 years ago, a man came to the back door at the Monroe News-Star/Morning World newspaper office and asked for me. He had something he thought I might want a picture of.
He did have.
I quickly loaded up a 24 shot roll of black and white film in my manual focus Honeywell Pentax 35mm and took pictures (yes, I know the Morning World is gone. Nobody uses film anymore and…and, well, I know how old I am. Thank you very much).
Anyway, this dude had a string of 12 largemouth bass that weighed over 60 pounds. He caught them out of Cheniere Lake near West Monroe. His name was Steve Danna. Now, 40 years later, Steve is still in the middle of the fishing game and still catching lots of fish. But something has seriously changed.
He has been kidnapped. By crappie.
He’s no longer a full-time chaser of bass. He still has an 8 1/2 x 11 print of that photo of giant bass on the wall of his man cave at his home on the D’Arbonne arm of the lake, along with all kinds of bass trophies, plaques, gear and baits.
Steve is now a crappie fisherman, and a good one at that. With the Louisiana State Championship Crappie Masters tournament coming on Lake D’Arbonne Feb. 26-27,
Steve’s got to be one of the local favorites for a top finish or a win ( he and partner Dustan Ballance finished 13th in last year’s one-day Crappie Masters tournament).
He’s been staying on the crappie again this year and I got to enjoy that with him a few days ago. You can find out more about Crappie Masters by clicking on their logo on this page.
“Man, I just love to catch crappie”, he says, staring down at the Lowrance electronics on the front of his new War Eagle boat, making sure we stayed in just the right spot over a big brush top in the D’Arbonne channel. We were right there. And THUMP, there came a big crappie to the surface. It was one of many.
“I have always fished for crappie a little, even when I was tournament bass fishing,” says Steve, who has lived on D’Arbonne with his wife now for 20 years. “I really got into crappie seriously around 1996 and figured out fairly quickly that these guys have pretty much the same type patterns as bass. I’ve never regretted it.”
Here’s the story in a nutshell. Steve started fishing for them when they would spawn on trees and then he following them from the trees to the sloughs to the banks of the channel and then on into the channel as the year went on.
“D’arbonne has it all,” he says. “That’s why it is such a fantastic lake. You can catch crappie in 1 foot of water on the banks or in 30 feet of water on the channel, depending on what time of year it is.”
Lots of folks can catch fish, but Steve had a knack for finding them as well. that’s something everybody can’t do. We’ll share more of how he does that and the gear he uses in our next writeup, Part Two, coming Wednesday.