Darren Carson, a professional crappie tournament fisherman from Gray, GA took me to Lake Talquin in Florida. Darren works at Warner Robbins Air Force Base when not chasing crappie and he fishes a couple of professional tournament trails. That year he came in second at Lake Oconee in a North American Crappie Association tournament with a 7 fish limit weighing 10.71 pounds.
A good many years ago Darren fished a tournament at Talquin and fell in love with the lake. He liked it so much he rents a house there and fishes it as often as possible although it is a little over 3 hours from Macon. It took me 4 hours and 15 minutes to get home, and that was pulling his boat.
Talquin is just over the state line near Quincy, Florida. The lake is named after Tallahassee and Quincy, the two nearest cities. It is a shallow lake with stumps and logs everywhere in the black, tannic water. The crappie and bass grow fast and big because the water drains many fertilized fields and phosphate deposits.
Darren’s boat is set up to troll up to 16 rods at a time in a spider rig. Since I was inexperienced at fishing this way we used only 12, four in the back for me and 8 up front for him. We put out two jigs on most of the rods so we were trolling about 20 jigs at one time covering a strip of water about 32 feet wide with each pass. Darren looked for fish on his depthfinder and kept the boat moving at a constant speed so the jigs would not get hung up.
Darrin had an amazing assortment of crappie jigs. There were dozens of colors and color combinations and a range of weights from about1/64 ounce up to about 1/4 ounce. We tried a variety of colors at first but settled on a red/green/yellow combination that seemed to be the favorite of the fish that day.
Darrin adjust colors based on water clarity and brightness of the day. Weight is changed to control the depth the jigs run at a steady trolling motor speed.
When a fish hit we would hold the rod tips high and reel it in, trying to keep it from tangling other lines. I caught the biggest crappie of the day and it got into about six other lines while I was reeling it in. With the 4 pound test line we were using you could not force a two pound crappie to come straight in.
At one point something hit one of my jigs and took off. I thought it was a big bass but Darren said it could be a hybrid or a catfish, too. He told me to break it off before it took all the line off the reel. I really hated to do that. I wanted to see the fish but realized even if I got it coming toward the boat it would really tangle up everything since it ran where ever it wanted to go. I put my finger on the spinning reel spool to stop the drag and the line popped.
Plan a trip to Lake Talquin for some big crappie. Darren says a catch like ours is not unusual and we should have caught a lot more, and they bite all year long, but spring is best. I went with him to get info for a Georgia Outdoor News article and all the details about how he fishes and where to go will be in the March issue.