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Learning from the Pros

June 15, 2016 - Larry Claypool
There is a reason people are called “Professionals”, the rest of us are “Amateurs”. The fishing world is no different. Yes there are several levels in each category, but the Pros still have to know what they’re doing because they have to earn a paycheck. I like my amateur status as a fisherman. It’s casual, how I like it, and there’s less pressure.

We all like to catch fish, and the BIG fish is what we seek most. Pros are no different. I learned that first hand recently — on two occasions — while taking part in the PA Crappie Camp at Shenango River Lake and Muransky Companies United Way Bass Classic on Pine Lake. At the Crappie Camp I fished aboard crappie Pro Dan Dannenmueller’s boat and at the Bass Classic I was a judge on Bill Byers’ boat during the competition.

Byers, and his teammate Scott Cremeans (he was the Amateur but competes some times on the Pro circuit), competed hard for eight hours to finish fourth in the event (see story on Page 10 of the June OV Times) on Pine Lake with 12 fish. There were two times the bass slayers sat in first place. They really were not ‘slaying’ fish but managed to find a couple hot spots during a very tough day of fishing. The wind and weather played havoc with the fish, in what turned out to be a ‘tough bite’ kind of day. Of the 12 fish Byers and Cremeans caught they were all ‘keepers’. Their average fish weighed 2 lb-9 oz, which was the normal for the day for the top 10 boats. That is impressive!

Since it was a ‘tough bite’ on Pine Lake for the Byers/Cremeans team I got to witness most of their arsenal as far as bait presentations. Yes, they essentially threw everything but the kitchen sink during this tournament. They had to! And yes I didn’t get to fish on this day, but I learned a few tricks. I won’t tell though.

Since we were fishing for bass in the Bass Classic everything else quickly got chucked back into the lake. Ouch! That hurt when Cremeans hit a few streaks of very large crappie — and easily pulled in six or seven 15-17-inchers. And yes I was paying attention to what he caught those on.

Now a few weeks earlier, as I was participating in the annual media event (PA Crappie Camp) hosted by fishing guru Darl Black at Shenango River Lake in PA, those 15-17-inch crappie were the hit of the day. We took many photos of those fish. In fact, the largest fish taken on Shenango that day was a beautiful 17-inch, two-pound crappie aboard Dannenmueller’s boat. It was caught by fellow journalist Bill Decoteau.

I caught several smaller crappie sitting alongside Dannenmueller as he employs a unique spider rigging system with eight 16-foot rods expertly dangling from the bow of his 21-foot Ranger boat. (*Note: PA allows three rods in the water and we had three fisherman aboard.) I also caught a small northern pike and white bass on the crappie rig. I also learned a lot about crappie fishing from Dannenmueller, and his partner Garrett Steele. See my story in the June issue of the OV Times.

Being on board with professional fisherman for several hours can be a great learning experience. During my time with Byers and Cremeans we did some talking but I mostly listened, and learned. They were seriously in competition mode and I didn’t want to disturb them. Yes, they were competing and the new Major League Fishing scoring system we were using allowed them to know where they stood on the leader board. It actually made for some interesting fishing, and competing.

Aboard Dannenmueller’s boat it was a more casual atmosphere since it was not a competition. I could definitely see how the team worked together though to catch fish. In Dannenmueller’s case he’s such a seasoned veteran on the water and most of his good fortunes come with preparation and knowledge of the fish, his boat and equipment.

 
 

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Blog Photos

That's me with a nice crappie, caught during the PA Crappie Camp with Pros Dan Dannenmueller and Garrett Steele. Photo by Garrett Steele

 
 
 
 

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