Wading for Mississippi Slabs Remains Hot with Hall’s Guide Service

April 20, 2023

Like many other forms of crappie fishing, wading for Mississippi slabs draws a unique crowd of dedicated fanatics.

The practice is a time-honored tradition on the Big 4 Mississippi lakes, appealing to a hardy lot of local fishermen and a few visitors who battle rising and falling waters, cold fronts, bugs, and the occasional snake as they slink through the stained waters of Sardis, Grenada, or other neighboring fisheries.

Young guide Kelon Hall continues that tradition, one first introduced to him by his father and his father’s friends. Kelon, from New Albany, MS, remembers fishing from a stump deep in a swamp when he was too small to wade, and he continues to make memories in similar fashion today.

“People love to wade and catch crappie,” Kelon told me last year after guiding ACC Crappie Stix owner Andy Lehman on an April trip to Sardis.

The early season this year was marked by inconsistency for Mississippi waders, largely the result of unstable weather and rising and falling water. However, conditions began to stablilize in the first days of April, and the fishing peaked under the improved conditions.

Kelon said he took a couple of groups on trips to Sardis within the last week, and each member of the groups limited out. The fishing should remain hot through at least the first week of May.

“The fishing has really picked up,” he said. “The weather has finally stabilized, and the water has reached a good level and stayed there. The conditions should make for good fishing for nearly another month.”

Kelon targets several types of structure on his wading adventures. Buck brush abounds on Sardis, and there is also plenty of man-made cover, mainly brushpiles and stake beds.

The buck brush proves difficult to fish at times. Kelon pulls his jig to the end of the rod, pokes it through the side of the buck brush, and drops the jig. When a crappie hits, a few moments of chaos ensue with “too many lost fish” because of the thick cover.

“Fishing the buck brush can be a little frustrating at times,” Kelon said, “because you’re going to lose fish. But the crappie love to hold in it.”

Cypress trees, those with plenty of vines hanging down and knees extending from the base, are Kelon’s favorite targets. The crappie spawn around the base of the cypress trees with the males hanging around the beds for extended periods.

“I like to drop a jig down there around the base of a cypress and feel the thump,” Kelon said.

For just about all of his wade fishing, Kelon uses a 10’ ACC Crappie Stix jigging rod. He said the 10-footer is a good all-around size not only to handle the crappie but also to maneuver in the tight spots characteristic of wade fishing.

To the end of the line, he adds an ACC Jig Head paired with an ACC Crappie Snax “The Club,” a 2.5” bait perfect for fooling Mississippi slabs.

Kelon has expanded his guiding service this year to include a boat, which he uses both for wading purposes and also for more traditional boat trips. For wading, the boat allows him to access shallow areas that receive less pressure than others.

Kelon said the buck brush and brushpiles are found all over the lake, and the use of the boat gets him away from the crowd that fills community wading spots accessible to everyone.

“It’s been a good addition to my guiding,” Kelon said. “I can go pretty much anywhere I want on the lakes and hop out and wade.”

He has also started offering LiveScope trips, single-poling for the giants slabs on Sardis, Grenada, and Arkabutla. Kelon also made plans this month to fish his first crappie tournament, an American Crappie Trail event on Sardis.

“The guiding has gone well,” he said. “I will keep on wading for at least two or three weeks, and then offer LiveScope trips whenever I have the time away from my regular job, mainly on weekends.

“About the tournament, it will be my first and may be my last, depending on how well I do.”

Kelon said he still has some openings available for wading and plenty available for fishing from the boat later in the year. Contact Hall’s Guide Service at 662.316.6124, or follow Halls Guide Service on Facebook.

While Kelon said he would be glad to guide anyone on Sardis, Grenada, or Arkabutla, he hopes to extend his services to Enid soon. He takes most of his trips on Sardis, however.

“If you’ve never tried it, it’s something you need to do at least one time,” he said, referring to the wading potential on the lakes. “It’s definitely my favorite way to fish, just being able to get in the water and being able to fish that thicker cover.”