I was recently able to join one of the most consistent teams on the tournament trail. Jonathan and Alicia Phillips. Alicia was unable to fish till the Friday before the tournament so I jumped in as a warm body to
hold and watch more rods. The first thing I learned was that I am a bit rusty when it comes to seeing a insanely subtle bite. Jonathan can be eating a sammich and see a bite out of the corner of his eye
that I miss while staring straight at the rod tips. It all comes with hours doing the thing you want to get good at. It’s been a while since I have spider rigged so I was definitely a bit rusty.
We also did a little long-lining which I thought was kinda cool. Not as troubles some and complicated as I thought but I’m sure there is a lot more to it than what I gathered. We used 3 rods on each side
and the outside rods were 16′ Trolling rods placed almost straight out sideways. The inside rods were 12′ that were at a 45 degree angle and the inside rods were 8′ pointed straight back. We casted the middle
rods out first at about 40 to 50 feet with 1/24th ounce jig heads. We moved at an avg. of 1 mph. in 6-8 feet of water. We covered a lot of water and fished over stumps and brush piles with very few hang ups.
Lots of the fish were caught on turns as the bait moves faster/slower and raises and falls in the water column.
Most of the time however we did what Jonathan does best in a tournament situation when he needs to cover water to find pre spawn fish. Spider rigging! The best deal was at 14-16 feet of water very close to the bottom. We
found the best spot and caught a few good fish while pre-fishing and the day of the tournament the wind killed that spot so Jonathan had to go elsewhere to be able to fish. Some teams moved to the back of that pocket but the
fish were not ready to move shallow after a nasty cold front. Jonathan Alicia decided to duplicate the pattern and fish another mouth of a big pocket. Knowing the fish had to be there he stayed patient and put his head down
and went to work. Jonathan is a lot more patient than me and this is why he wins and I don’t. Knowing the fish had to stage before spawning he knew he was in the right place. Dropping minnow rigs on 16′ Trolling rods with
3/4 ounce weights he was able to finish with a very respectable 4th.
He knew he didn’t need to look for drops or ledges or stump rows or brush piles he stuck to a simple yet effective plan of covering the right depth at the mouth of a spawning pocket. The time of year and cold front told him
all he needed to know to stay deep and stay put. Hats of to him and his wife for another great finish. Jonathan is also a guide on the Alabama River and you can reach him on his Facebook page “Team Phillips Guide Service”.
Thanks Jonathan for having in your boat and teaching me a thing or 3. I truly appreciate the opportunity the chance to fish with some great Crappie fishing folks.