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Lake life

Messin’ (and fishin’) with Sasquatch

By training, Wesley Miller is a nurse.

By current career choice, he’s a crappie fishing guide and jig maker.

By appearance, he’s Sasquatch (Hey, he calls himself that, too). And unless you try and hide the Jack Link’s Beef Jerky from him, he is fine with that!

But deep down inside, he’s a teacher. And that should be no surprise. He grew up with parents who were both educators. When you sit on the front deck of his crappie boat and listen to what he says about crappie fishing, it’s obvious he learned from them. And he’s earned his Masters Degree in Crappie on his own. If you pay attention fishing from him, you can’t help but come away with a crappie catching education. And a mess of fish.

I was fortunate enough to go last week for a while with Wesley on D’Arbonne, one of several lakes he guides on. We found fish early and stayed on them most of the morning. Like most other consistent crappie fishermen today, Wesley depends on the LiveScope for action.

Here’s his game plan. We eased out across a flat in about 12-14 feet of water with the scope set out at 30 feet. When he would see a “blip” or two on the screen, he’d focus in on them and ease the boat toward the fish. Right now some of the fish are suspended in the middle of nowhere. Others are tight on trees and brush and some are even right off the bottom. He would remind me to watch which way the trolling motor was pointed and when we saw the fish about 10 feet out in front, we’d pitch a jig out, watch it go down to where the fish was and slowly stop it just above their head.

For the most part, when you do that, one of three things happens. Sometimes nothing happens. That’s one. Sometimes the fish just turns and swims away, or even sinks to the bottom. But the third choice, and by far the best, is that the fish lifts it’s head (yes, you can see that on the screen even though people don’t consider this an “underwater camera”. When that happens, it’s game on.

“Once he sees it and raises that head, unless you mess up, he’s going to eat it,” Wesley says. I like the learn by experience and from experience, I can tell you three good ways to mess up is to lower the jig too far and spook the fish, move the jig around instead of holding it still, or lose patience. Sometimes it takes a minute for the fish to finish it’s move, but he’s got no where to go.

Sometimes you also have to have your senses in overdrive. You have to contain your excitement over about to get bit. You’ve got to be steady of hand to hold that jig still. You’ve got to be able to wait until you feel the thump and not set the hook when it just looks like the fish is biting the bait. And, sometimes you have to look at the screen and watch your line at the same time. Numerous times, especially with bigger fish, the fish come up to hit the bait and you never feel it. They keep swimming up instead of swimming down with it. And the thump is almost impossible to feel.

Piece of cake, right?

Besides fish knowledge, Wesley’s biggest attribute guiding may be something that didn’t come to him easily — patience.

“I haven’t always been patient, but if you get impatient with somebody fishing, you just make things worse,” he says. “No matter what people do, you have to be patient with them and try to help them. A lot of how much people get out of a guided trip depends on them. Sometimes you get people who want to show you what they know or the way they do it. Hey, that may work. But if you are going to pay somebody to take you and teach you, you probably ought to try it their way.”

One of the most enjoyable lessons along those lines has come more than once when a couple comes fishing. The man has maybe been fishing his whole life and the wife is just along on the trip. In that case, often she listens better and does things the way Wesley guides her too and, again, more than once, the wife has put it on the husband! Sometimes the little details make a big difference.

You could write a book about fishing with Sasquatch, but the best way to get the story is spend some time in the boat with him, learning his techniques and fishing with one of his fine hand-tied hair jigs (the only bait he fishes with). He’s very reasonable and you can reach him on Facebook at Big Sasquatch Outdoors.

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