Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Catch a Crappie, Climb a Mountain

         We just walked around on this big dock, dropping a small rubber jig here and there among the empty boat slips, hooking and landing some big crappie, from one spot and then another. It is easily the most comfortable winter crappie fishing I have ever seen and the crappie are big.  And  then we had a big basket of fish and had to climb that mountain!

        The mountain is actually a steep hill going up from the dock to Don Lawellen’s Three Oaks Resort on Norfork Lake.  Normally a trolley runs down the hill to the dock but the Lawellens are having it rebuilt and figure it won’t be ready until early March.  So if you want to catch crappie in the winter, you have to descend the mountain, not too difficult, and then ascend the mountain, which is a physical challenge.

         The reason that dock is such an unbelievable fishing base almost all  year long is that it sits over about 60 feet of water.  You may not realize how unusual that is, but there are few boat docks anywhere that have more than 10 to 20 feet beneath the dock.  In the spring and summer, boats going out at night to fish beneath lights, or in the winter to fish for crappie, do not seek out water that shallow.  Deep water makes winter crappie fishing, and Don’s dock provides it.  So I am going back, since I made it up the mountain last time, only stopping to rest just once.  It is worth the effort, because if you have ever caught big crappie from deep below you in clear water on an ultra-lite outfit, you get to a point where a 10-minute climb is tolerable.  And when you fry up winter crappie, you forget there even was a mountainside to navigate.

         If you get the urge to try it yourself, just call Don at the Three Oaks Resort, not far from the Arkansas-Missouri line on Norfork.  Stay awhile if you want, as he has beautiful cabins available now, looking out across Norfork Lake and he will tell you when the fishing is best.  I imagine that if you cannot handle that mountain on account of not being the grizzled old outdoorsman me and Don is… he’d take you around via boat.

There will be a time as spring approaches when that well-lighted dock is a great place for the night fishing which produces big walleye, stripers and hybrids, even bass.  By that time the new trolley should be in operation.

        When you spend as much time as I do out in the woods and on the rivers you
see some things that amaze you. I have indeed seen many things that I will never write about because no one would believe me. Something similar happened on the first Saturday after Christmas.

         I went a place I often go where there are thousands of acres of public forestland figuring that I might recharge my batteries a little and maybe shoot a young deer with my muzzleloader to provide some venison for a needy family I know. I covered a lot of woodland in an afternoon without seeing a deer. That isn’t unusual late in the year like this, as deer tend to bunch up in small groups. Bucks don’t move much because the rutting season is coming to a close. If you see a deer now, chances are good there will be several of them and it isn’t hard to choose a young deer still big enough to supply several pounds of venison.

        On a long ridge-top, there was the sound of chirping birds like nothing I have ever heard. It was a flock of migrating robins in numbers I have never seen before. I really believe that flock could have numbered well more than 1,000 robins.

         It was a ridge with big timber and big cedar trees, and robins filled every tree especially the cedars bearing their blue berries. I sat down beneath one and feeding robins dropped them on the bill of my cap and all around me. Along a small creek below they were watering, 100 to 200 birds at a time.  When they took to flight it sounded like waterfowl wings springing from a distant marsh, and a new bunch would replace them.  The little creek was alive with the activity of a mass of robins.

There was a time decades ago when folks in the south ate robins, and I thought about that as I sat there.  They say that they are just about the same as doves on the supper table, but perhaps a little better. Although I have never eaten one I am tempted to go back and get a couple or three to try.  They might still be there, but likely they have moved on.  Regardless, I never have seen anything like that before.

         To get in touch with me, write to Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613 or email  If you have an interest in receiving one of my two spring magazines or one of my books, just call our office, 417 777 5227.  We can tell you all about them, or perhaps send you a sample.

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