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04-13-13 lammers

When the Lammers group comes down, I only need two things on the boat:  a bigger cooler, and pair of rubber boots.  Very few people can make me laugh and catch fish like Russ, Joe, and Josh do, making for one heck of a good day on the water.  The best part is that they always book a full day trip, making sure to give themselves plenty of time to pull a three man limit.  The only problem is that I’ve short changed them all three times they’ve come out.  Let me explain.I first met these guys last October when Cedar Creek was witnessing one of it’s best brush pile bites in years.  Chuck said it was the best he’s ever seen in the fall, which to me is quite the testament.  I believe it too, because there wasn’t a trip between late September and early December that came home with less than fifty crappie, unless of course there was only one customer.  Anyway, Russ and the guys come out on a blue bird day with hardly a breath of wind, allowing us to absolutely beat the fins off of the crappie on some really loaded up shallow brush.  We finished our “full day trip” at around 11:30am that day, with seventy-five broad backed slabs, several of which topping the two pound mark.A few months later, we find ourselves on the water again, persevering through a March day custom built for duck hunting.  We had to work for the sixty-four crappie we ended the day with, and while I felt we had done well given the conditions, I knew there was a tinge of disappointment felt by all.  They’re good fishermen, and know that catching isn’t everything.  But good fishermen also expect a lot when they pay good money for a fishing trip, and I don’t like to let them down.So here we are, April 13, 2013, and the Lammers group have just stepped foot on the dock.  Everyone is happy, especially me.  How could I not be?  The weatherman is saying plenty of sunshine and low winds from the south, I’ve got three of my best customers climbing on the boat, and we’ve got all day to put together a healthy stringer of fish.  Russ fires first.  “You know Lane, if we could go ahead and catch our limit before lunch, I could still have time for a nap this afternoon.”  Good thing I brought those rubber boots...Making our way across the water, I hand them each a dose of medicine straight out of the fish pharmacy:  a sixteenth ounce unpainted jig head, and their choice of either a solid chartreuse or white and chartreuse jig.  Color doesn’t really seem to matter too much right now, but confidence sure does.  Passing the needle nose pliers back and forth, they each affix their tackle to the rods they brought, and are ready for action by the time the boat comes off it’s plane. We pull up to a spot that treated me very well yesterday, and go about explaining the technique that has been working best for us.  I don’t have to say much because we’re still on the same pattern we were a month ago.  “Same thing as last time gentlemen, six to ten inches off the bottom, hold still for seven to ten seconds, drop down slowly to find the bottom, and come right back up again.”  I usually finish these instructions by saying “the slower you move your jig up and down to find your depth, the better, but there’s really no point.  These guys are good, real good, all they need me to do is drive the boat.  We’re nestling in to three feet of water, under a sky that is still early morning gray.  It’s almost to dark to see the line, but as it turns out it really doesn’t matter.  The fish are in here, thick, and the jig doesn’t have the chance to fall that far.  Immediately we hook up with a solid pair of ebony colored males.  Fish so dark that if the sun were up a little more, they would be shining a very beautiful array of dark blues and purples.We’re moving hard, low, and fast.  Not stopping our drift until we get bit.  We pick up one here and there, and venture into hotbeds that yield six or eight as quickly as we can get our jig in the water.  It’s pushing eight am, and I judge that we have roughly two dozen fish in the cooler. We’re off to a real good start to say the least.The next hour or so goes by, and the bull is already piled deeper than the water we’re fishing in.  It’s pushing 9:00am, and I’m starting to get a little anxious as we’ve only pulled another half dozen or so fish.  They seem to have really hit the brakes.  With around thirty fish and plenty of time left in the ball game, I’m not really that concerned with getting enough crappie by the end of the day.  I’m just curious as to why they suddenly disappeared. One of the countless lessons I’ve learned from Chuck pertaining to fishing during the spawn, is if the fish stop biting, start moving.  So we did.  Idling around and waving at some folks, we pull into an area that has been resting the last two days.  “Guys, just like before, we’ll be in three to five feet of water; ya’ll know what to do.”The next hour may very well be the best fishing I’ve seen since I started guiding almost three years ago, and all I could do was laugh.  Every single one of us tagged a fish on our first drop, which lead to at least twenty fish in a span no longer than ten minutes.  Pitching, casting, or vertical jigging; it made absolutely not one bit of difference.  I saw Josh break, at least in my opinion, the land speed record for catching three keepers in a row.  He caught all three, without exaggeration, in under sixty seconds.  It literally took him longer to take the fish off his hook then it did to catch the next one.  Right by the boat, straight down, before it ever got close to the bottom.  Bam.  Bam.  Bam.The numbers and the size were astounding, with several fish either pushing or exceeding the two pound mark.  Few things in this world get me going like setting a hook on a fish that doesn’t budge an inch, only to feel it’s angry head shake.  I think Russ put it best when he said “we’re fishing so close to the bottom that when you get bit it feels like you’re pulling fish out of a hole.”  Yes it certainly did, and my goodness how a fifteen inch crappie seems to grow roots.I look down at my watch, and then at the cooler.  It’s almost 10:30am, and I need to count fish.  The first count as I pull them out of the cooler, is the same count as when they go back in the cooler. 69.  “Six more guys, and we’ll have ‘em beat.”  They look at me, then each other.  Someone repeats “six more,” and they’re back to fishing.  We pull the next five in a very quick manner, cueing me to set my pole down for a proper finish.  I never like to catch the last fish.  A brief moment passes, and Joe brings in number 75.  I’m shaking my head in disbelief and laughter, Russ and Joe are lighting cigarettes and taking pictures, Josh is on the phone rubbing it in to his buddy, and we’re all high-fiving in between.  I didn't do anything special, the fish and the fishermen just made my job really easy today.  Now what?  Usually I say “let’s go chase sandies,” but they’ve told me a thousand times they don’t want any in the trips before.  They can catch plenty on their own.  “What do you say guys?”  “We all want to watch you clean fish and are ready for a greasy burger.  Let’s head that way.”Chris is finishing up cleaning his morning catch when we get back to the dock.  He and Chuck are both giving me strange looks, as it is not even eleven yet, and we are back.  I walk up to Chris, acting frustrated and down hearted.  “How did it go, Laner?”  “Well, we turned a full day into a half day if that says anything.”  “Ouch man, sorry to hear that.  I figured you were on fish since I didn’t hear from you.  You should’ve called”  Trying not to laugh, I play along and let him think we had a slow morning until it’s our turn to clean fish.The fish get cleaned and the customers head towards home, leaving me free to take care of the boat and pack up my gear.  When the everything is looking satisfactory, I head into the office to put my pay sheet on either Laurie’s or Jana’s desk.  Already knowing the full story, Laurie hits me with a jab.  “I guess we’ll have to cut your pay since you short changed the customers by four hours.”  Smirking, and fending off Jana’s laughter, I can’t help but to reply “I think it’s safe to say they got their money’s worth.”  

Our trip was great.The 3 of us had a blast fishing even in very windy conditions.You are one of the best, courteous and knowledgeable guides Iv'e had the pleasure to fish with.Always offering tips.

- Bubba Hackett -

My dad had a great time and is ready to go again.My daughter loved the trip also.I cannot express my appreciation for the way you took care of us.Outstanding.Planning another trip for next year.

- Jimmy Frosch -

We hired Chuck to fish for hybrids. We were only 1 fish away from limiting out for a 1/2 day booking. Great time on the water. Chuck's worth taking out;he'll put fish in the cooler

- Miller -

They provide the best Crappie experience. We are planning our next trip. After fishing Cedar Creek in 1968, Chuck introduced us to Dock Shooting- a super experience. Reilly Bros.

- Reilly -

Thanks for the great fishing experience.I was impressed with the whole operation.It was professional, knowledgeable yet fun and relaxed.It met and exceeded my expectations.Cant stop thinking about it

- Foster -

Had a great time 3 generations in my family went with me and guide was patient and put us on fish. Great afternoon! This was my second trip with Big Crappie and they impressed both times

- Knapp -