A lot of crappie fishermen would get made if you referred to their favorite fish as a “trash” fish. Nick Young would just laugh. That’s because he had a big hand in that, but in a good way. He teamed up with his father, Jock Young, to win the 2018 Crappie Masters Louisiana State Championship last weekend on Lake D’Arbonne. As for the “trash fish”, you are just gonna have to keep reading….
The story of how he won is amazing. And he was kind of enough to share it with us day by day for this two part lakedarbonnelife.com exclusive story.
Starting with Monday of practice week, Nick made his first good decision of the week by really focusing on looking around different areas of the lake, seeing where fish were and how everything was on the lake. He headed down to the spillway, where he figured the tournament would be won. That of course, was when we were expecting one or two inches of rain the next few days, not 7-9 inches of rain.
Nick caught his first fish while he was still setting out poles on his spider rig. Three local game wardens he knows well came by and gave him a good natured ribbing about trying to catch one while they were watching. That didn’t happen, but as they were motoring away, he caught the biggest crappie he’s ever caught on D’Arbonne, weighing exactly 3-0 pounds on his scale. He called them back, showed them the fish and then put her back.
Tuesday, with the 25 mph wind, he didn’t even put his boat in the water. He just got his gear in shape for a Crappie Masters TV filming commitment on Wednesday, He fished in a three-team event to help promote the lake. He and fellow competitor James Morgan teamed up. Since they would be fishing against each other in the actual tournament, they picked a neutral area for Wednesday and stayed away from each other’s tournament waters.
On Thursday morning, Nick found D’Arbonne had become a whole new lake – rising quickly, muddy and full of current. The spots he thought would pay off were questionable. He also quickly noticed that Monday’s 50-51 degree water temperatures had come up to 59-60 with all the warm rain. He went back where he fished near the spillway on Monday and never got a bite in 2 1/2 hours. He then rode all the way up to Hwy. 2 and caught a few fish, then down to a spot near Terrell Island. He knew the fish should be coming there to stage for the spawn. He caught some nice ones, including a 2.5 pounder.
Tournament time rolled around Saturday morning. Nick’s strategy was to start near Hwy. 2, catch a good limit, then head to the Island spot to up his stringer weight. He and his dad caught 25-30 fish by 9 a.m. and had close to 10 pounds. There were 11 other boats hammering the same area with him, so they headed south. It was a good move. By noon, they had culled every fish that they caught on Hwy. 2 and had 12.78 pounds and were in third place at the end of Day One.
Day Two on Saturday, the wind was supposed to blow 20-25 mph so Nick knew they
didn’t have long on his big fish around Terrell Island. They fished the area and had a good limit, but he felt it was not enough to win. This is where the “trash fish” come in. Nick didn’t fish the edge of a slough or a stump line. He fished down a 200-yard long line of floating debris — trash, if you will — which kind of jammed up on the water’s surface where the current was meeting slack water. He saw fish 3-4 feet deep under the trash on his electronics.
“It’s probably a circumstance that won’t ever happen again in 50 years,” he said. “But it was there Saturday. The fish were literally up on the tops of the stumps that are usually sticking out of the water, but they were under the water four feet with the flood water. The shad were up just a little bit hiding out under the trash.”
That was highly unusual, but he always trusts what he sees on his electronics. It didn’t let him down. They caught a limit of fish there in five minutes on the second day. They stayed a while and improved on the catch, but still didn’t feel like they had enough to win.
When the wind became unbearable, he made two moves which ultimately won the tournament. First, he went to the mouth of Cleo Fields cove where there were about 30 other boats fishing and hiding from the wind. He did everything he could to slow the boat down and they caught the biggest fish of the day. As time began to run out, he ran up to a similar spot not far from the mouth of Stowe Creek. Again, they landed one big fish that probably put them over the top in the tournament.
Their total weight? 24.40 pounds. Their prize? $6,000 and a title that will always be with them. This was not only a signature win for Nick and his dad, but it should be a big boost to his D’Arbonne Lake Guide Service. You can find them on Facebook or call him at 318-243-8646. If you miss him, leave him a number and he’ll call you back when he’s through cleaning fish, or gets home from his day job. It’ll be worth the wait.
Nick gave special thanks to Ludwig Marine, D’Arbonne Sporting Goods and Jenko Fishing, plus Crappie Masters for putting on a great tournament.
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How Nick thinks we can catch crappie like these on D’Arbonne the next two weeks!