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Lake life

A professional approach

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No matter how good a crappie fishermen you are, you can learn a thing or two from touring pros who fish lakes all around the country. Two anglers who are here for Friday and Saturday’s Crappie Masters tournament who were willing to share everything about their approach to Lake D’Arbonne are Dan Dannenmueller Sr. and Garrett Steele.

Well, almost everything.

What are you guys catching your fish on?” I asked Thursday as they joined other pros, news media and local elected officials at a Media Day sponsored by the Union Parish Tourist Commission.

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 4.27.45 PM“We are using mostly….wait, are you going to publish this Friday? Ask me again Saturday afternoon,” Crappie Dan said, catching himself (no pun intended). Oops. Well, I tried.

Seriously, what this duo does this time of year no matter where they are around the country — even on their home lake — is a professional step-by-step approach to crappie catching, not just crappie fishing. They start by looking at satellite images of the lake to check on water clarity and other conditions. It’s a process “that we live by” they said.

Here’s step two.  They look at extended local reports on the weather, mean temperatures before we got there and now and water temps. Another key is the first moon of the spawn. Usually the spawn goes through two full moons. Normally the spawn here would have started this week with the full moon, but as Dan says, “The weather just won’t let it.”

During the pre-spawn, the duo says they get on the water and find where the warmest water is, usually in some northwest part of the lake or inlets where the sun can hit the water, but the hard, cold northwest wind can’t. Next comes scoping out good looking spots with the detailed Garmin electronics, looking for fish and water depths/structure that the fish are holding near. After they locate fish, the use a Color Selector to help pick the right color baits. Then, they finally go fishing.

“It seems like a lot, but trust me, when you are trying to consistently catch crappie right now, it’s the only way to go. The more you can use the technology available to you, the more fish you will catch.”

In a week to 10 days, the duo predicts the fish will be heading out in the creeks, on the flats and into the shallows to spawn. They aren’t there yet, but they are ready to go as soon as the weather sends them. It will take a few sunny days that warm up the water a little bit more. The predicted rainy weather early next week may push that back another few days.

“On D’Arbonne this year, it’s been a yo-yo affect,” Dan said. “It warms a bit and they stage to begin moving. Then it turns cold and drives them deep again. Then it warms…then it turns cold again. Right now it yo yo’ed almost all the fish right back into the deep channels.”

Now and even when the fish move shallower on flats, the two do have a couple of favorite lure combos they don’t mind sharing. One of the best is a double rigged Garland Baby Shad and Minnow Minder jig, tipped with a shiner. They like double rigs because “the more baits you have in the water, the more fish you have a chance to catch”. They also use eight poles, the tournament limit, in the Crappie Masters Event. As for color, I’ll have to wait until Saturday afternoon to find out…

The duo’ fishes in the Bobby Garland Crappie Bait boat and other major sponsors are BnM Poles, Ranger, Yamaha, BnM Poles, Minn Kota, Power-Pole. They come from very different backgrounds. Dan is the publisher of Crappie Now on-line magazine, http://www.crappienow.com and lives in Wetumpka, Alabama with his wife Sue.  He has three children and five grandchildren.  He is a retired Air Force Veteran of 25 years.  He has professionally fished for over 35 years. Garrett is originally from Midland TX and now resides in Nashville, TN.  He is a country recording artist and was was recently cast in a new television pilot that will showcase his singing, acting and fishing. He has fished since childhood, but joined the professional circuit in 2012.

Weigh-in for the tournament will be held at D’Arbonne Pointe beginning around 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday. With 70 boats, the winner will take home $5,000 and the tournament officials are expecting at least that many up to 85 or more.

And check this special event for kids set for Saturday morning on Ramp Roada out:

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Wait, there’s more good fishing news today:

Tyler Stewart and Nick Joiner of the University of Louisiana-Monroe set the bar high on the opening day of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Central Regional presented by Bass Pro Shops on the Atchafalaya Basin out of Houma when they brought 17 pounds, 9Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 8.45.08 PM ounces to the scales. The team takes a lead of more than 4 pounds into the second competition day Friday.

Only six teams managed to boat five-bass limits in the double-digit weight class, indicating how difficult the Atchafalaya Basin fishery is proving to be.

Changing weather and water conditions aren’t helping. Most of the Atchafalaya Basin was producing good catches during the college anglers’ recent scouting trips, but high winds and an influx of rain has pushed muddy water into areas that previously were clear. While most fishermen caught small fish, the ULM duo stayed on big fish all day.

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And in case you missed it yesterday,

check out this new Lake D’Arbonne video…



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