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Crappie Fishing From the Mat

Catchin’ Crappie from
the Mats…
with Chris Younger and John Wuthnow

Crappie Masters Tennessee State Championship included several obstacles beginning with a delayed tournament due to flooding. Heat became intense as the week continued. Big fish were difficult to find. One team shared a morning of fishing with me while they pre-fished to try and locate some big slabs for the tournament. Their tips may be ones you can apply to your fishing.
Chris Younger calls Kentucky Lake his home water, while partner John Wuthnow is from the Kansas City area. The team’s sponsors include Mike’s Energy Drink, Regency Retirement Village, Slider Jigs and Purolator.

“We’re pre-fishing here trying to find pound and three-quarter fish,” says Younger. “This time of year in late June the fish will still have the length but they’re skinny and don’t have the weight.”
The team used their GPS to mark beds. Younger has placed many beds in the area we were fishing. The team trolled to a GPS spot, tossed a maker buoy on the upwind side so it wouldn’t interfere with fishing, moved the boat to the downwind side and worked their way back.  “We start by fishing the outside of the bed. Then we move into the middle. Then we move to one side and on over to the other. That lets us know if the fish are at a certain spot in the cover and what depth they’re holding.”


How long will the team fish a bed? About fifteen minutes is tops if they don’t catch a fish. They move to other beds and usually to one in a different depth of water while trying to establish a pattern.
Younger continues, “Little fish are more aggressive so a lot of times you have to catch those little ones first and get rid of them so you can catch the bigger ones.”
The team believes in using different bait actions along with changing their depth as much as necessary. They say it’s critical to know what you are doing when you catch a fish so you can repeat the presentation. For example, holding a jig still at 14 feet might be the best way to trigger a strike so that’s what you need to repeat.
The team has a game plan when they go to the lake. Younger says, “I read up and know the lake levels. I need to know which mats will probably be good. If the lake is four feet high I might go to a mat that is a little shallow at normal pool because now it will be deeper with the high water. When it’s hot like it is now we are expecting the fish to be on the deeper stuff.  We are starting today in deeper water and will work our way to shallower water.”


Wuthnow says, “Being thorough is important. We started this morning at 18 feet, moved to 16 feet, and on up in steps until we found them at 12 feet. A practical game plan is good to have.”
Yonger was asked the importance of beds. “Having a variety of beds and having them marked with a GPS is important. When I build a bed I tie a marker buoy to it so after it is set I can get an exact reading on my GPS. Therefore, I can get us to one after the other without wasting much time.”
The team says another important thing is to not go over a bed when in shallow water. The fish will spook and take a while to get back to normal.
We finished the morning catching a few fish but the team didn’t find the big ones they were after. The fish that were willing to hit were in 12 feet of water taking a jig or jig tipped with a minnow. Special thanks to this Crappie Masters team for sharing tactics and tips.