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  • Huckabee’s Lake Record – Moral to the Story - by Troy Jens

    “People just are not getting it.”

    Todd Huckabee, one of the nation’s top professional crappie guides, is referring to crappie anglers that
    are afraid to try any method outside of a small jig or hook and minnow. He feels like crappie anglers
    have a much wider array of tackle to select from. This is particularly the case when it comes to size.

    “A crappie is going to eat anything that swims by it that will fit in its mouth,” Huckabee says.

    As a veteran fishing guide and widely publicized professional, there is nothing finesse about Huckabee’s
    fishing style. He believes in big baits and stout gear for catching bigger crappie, and he is unafraid to
    share that knowledge with a world that is tuned into ultra-light tactics for panfish. One thing that makes
    this guide a particularly good instructor is that you don’t have to wonder what really works. He will tell

    Huckabee’s home lake is Lake Eufaula, which is located on the eastern side of Oklahoma. Huckabee
    caught a lake record crappie of 2.80 pounds in October of 2010 while guiding. He and his clients were
    catching keeper-size crappie on the south end of the reservoir when the switch turned on and bigger
    fish showed up.

    “Once the wind really picked up, there was about a 45 minute period where the bigger fish really
    became active,” Huckabee said.

    He and is clients began catching fish well over the one pound mark when Huckabee hooked into the
    fish that would regain the lake record holder status for him. He had been a previous lake record holder.
    Huckabee said his group lost two other fish in the same size class during the feed.

    “This is usually how it is in the fall. You can be catching keeper-size fish, then you will get about a 45
    minute to one hour period where the big fish eat, then it’s over,” Huckabee said.

    Huckabee was guiding on a rip-rap breakline in 10 feet of water on the edge where the rock ends and
    the mud bottom begins. While many crappie anglers would be using the smallest jigs they can work,
    Huckabee elected to drag a ¼ ounce Chartreuse Green/Fluorescent Orange Lindy Jig off of the end of an
    11 foot flippin’ stick with 10 pound test line.

    “The bigger fish hang right on the transition where the rock ends, and they wait to ambush baitfish,”
    Huckabee said.

    Huckabee says crappie are looking for a big meal, and one of the main forage fish that he finds when he
    is cleaning crappie is drum over 4 inches long.

    “There are a lot of major myths in crappie fishing,” Huckabee said. “They will eat big food, so why use a
    small jig?”

    He believes a bigger jig is easier for him to place exactly where he wants it and generally performs better
    under most conditions. Huckabee said he catches plenty of little crappie on the larger Lindy jigs. Hence
    is logic on trusting larger jigs.

    “If small crappie will eat a big jig, why use a smaller jig?”

    It is also standard thinking that crappie always feed up, but Huckabee said he has discovered that often
    times they are feeding on bottom-dwelling bait fish such as the baby black drum. He adjusts his tactics

    “If you are sitting in 10 feet of water, you need to be fishing 12 feet deep,” Huckabee said.

    He uses that analogy to make sure his clients have enough line out to compensate for the slow drift and
    still keep the jigs in contact with the bottom. Todd says you want to be “bumping, banging and stirring
    things up” to get the attention of the fish.

    “It’s sort of like over-cranking when you are fishing for bass. You want to be digging up the bottom,”
    Huckabee said.

    Huckabee uses the Lindy Jig or Lindy X-Change jigs in 3/16 to ¼ oz weights. He uses Lindy’s Dancin’
    Crappie Tube as a jig body and has refined his own thinking as to the effectiveness of color.

    “There are a lot of myths as well when it comes to color,” Huckabee said. “If they can see it, they will eat
    it… they don’t swim up to a jig and say… I’m not going to eat that because it’s not blue and white.”

    Huckabee believes that color is all about contrast, especially in the stained waters of Lake Eufaula. His
    size and color combination that took the new lake record was a ¼ oz Lindy Jig in Chartreuse Green/
    Fluorescent Orange using a “Game Day” Dancin’ Crappie Tube as a jig body. The Bill Dance approved
    colors in the Dancin’ Crappie Tubes stem from Dance’s belief that these tubes will have at least one
    or more colors that will be visible to a crappie in all light conditions. That philosophy gets back to
    Huckabee’s teaching on the issue of contrast.

    “If they can see it, they will eat it,” Huckabee says.

    Huckabee’s big fish accomplishments in tournament fishing, instruction and guiding leave little
    argument as to the effectiveness of his choice of tactics, baits and equipment.

    If there is any moral to the story of Huckabee’s new lake record, it is that this is not his first lake record,
    and it will probably not be his last. He does it by doing what works, and that is to get away from too
    much thinking against the grain of conventional fishing methods.

    Todd owns and operates the Blue Heron Tackle store and grill, located on the shores of Lake Eufaula in
    Crowder, Oklahoma. Along with tackle and great food, Todd’s service includes cleaning your catch. For
    information, email Todd Huckabee at [email protected] / Or call (405) 520-8980

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