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Crappie fishing pro good company

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Despite few catches, info is always valuable.

By Phil Junker, Outdoors Columnist

With a name like Whitey Outlaw, he might be suited to be a country-western star or maybe a World Wrestling fighter, but those who know the name, know he is one of the top crappie fishing pros in the country.
Whitey has been fishing crappie tournaments since he was 15, when he won his first tournament on his home lake, Santee Cooper in South Carolina.
He has fished every CrappieMasters major tourney since and he and his partner, Mike Parrott won the organization’s Classic three years ago.
At the recent CrappieMasters Florida Championship on the Harris Chain of Lakes, fished from Taveres, I had the opportunity to fish with Whitey in a media event on Thursday before competition began the next day. I’ve been fortunate to fish with a number of tourney anglers and appreciate the opportunity. Most of the anglers are great people and I always learn from them.
Fishing with Whitey didn’t produce many large fish. A cold front had slowed fishing. I would have thought it was just the Phil Junker jinx, but most other anglers also found fishing tough.
However, I was able to pickup a number of pointers from Whitey:
* “I ‘push’ everything (meaning he uses poles in front of the boat while trolling),” Whitey said. “I find I get better quality fish out front of the boat, rather then trolling long lines out the back.”
* He also is a believer in live bait. He usually uses tandem hooks. On top is a hook only and on the bottom is a jig. He places minnows on both. “Using live bait helps take the color factor out of it. The fish will bite the minnow.”
* He enjoys hunting and finding the fish as much as he likes catching them. He also is a avid hunter from deer to birds. When he is “hunting” fish he uses poles set at multiple depths until he has success at a certain depth and then he sets the other poles to the depth where he is finding the action.
* White crappie tend to stay put. Black crappie use vegetation as structure while white crappie prefer wood structure. The two things that tend to move the fish are temperature and the moon.
* Some people have the misconception that crappie only spawn on shore, but in reality they will spawn in eight-to-10 feet of water.
* On cold mornings, fish tend to not bite, especially down here (Florida) when cold fronts roll through. It is bad for fishing. Fish hit better in the afternoon when the water warms up some.
* Among Whitey’s sponsors is Bn’M poles. He has helped the company design crappie gear. He uses 16-foot poles and reels when he is spider-rig fishing from his boat. Yamaha trucks and Bobby Garland lures are also among his sponsors.
* In tournament fishing, time is money. He says he can’t waste time not fishing while he is re-rigging his line and poles. He keeps two hooks  (one hook and one jig) made up and wrapped on a cylinder, so all he has to do to re-rig a pole is tie a new tandem on and bait.
* There has been a lot of new technology to change fishing. There are new electronics, better poles and line and other equipment. But one thing hasn’t changed. That’s the fish. Fishing is the same as it was 100 years ago, you still have to find them.
* Whitey would like to see a minimum 10-inch size limit across the nation. He is confident it would improve the fish quality nationally.
* Whitey loves to hunt as well as fish. In the off-fishing season he hunts nearly every day except Sunday.
“I hunt six days a week, but not on Sunday. The Good Lord gave me six days a week to hunt, so I don’t need to hunt on Sunday.”
Having the opportunity to fish with different anglers always is a neat experience, even if I don’t catch fish. And frequently, I don’t. I spend most of my time with a notebook and camera. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.