Outdoors with Forda Birds—By John Andreoni
Grand Lake St. Marys has received more than its fair share of negative press over the last ten years or so and a lot of it was justified. On the other hand, that same lake has a lot of positive things going for it, many of which are being ignored. The blue/green algae issue was a disaster to area recreation. The response to the problem, although not an instant fix, has been innovative, practical, and comprehensive. There is a great deal of optimism that water quality will improve and recreational usage will increase. In spite of the environmental issues, there are still recreational activities that flourish and continue to increase. Boating and camping are popular, and fishing is outstanding in spite of water conditions. I can’t recall fishing being any better over the last 50 years than it is today at GLSM. Crappie fishing is a prime example.
I’ve seen more big crappies in the last few years than I’ve ever seen and in numbers never expected. Limit catches of 11 and 12-inch fish are not uncommon and the really good fishermen can produce even bigger fish than that on demand. The crappie fishery at GLSM is a top-drawer, and that’s why a Crappie USA Super Tournament is being held here again for the fourth year in a row. The tournament was brought back to St. Marys with a little arm twisting by Preston Meyer of NKTELCO, a communications company that produces the popular crappie show, Brushpile Fishing and the main sponsor for the tournament. Bringing a fishing tournament that has a guaranteed $10,000 purse plus prizes is good advertising for the area and for Brushpile Fishing. Over the last three years, tournament participants have lived up to their reputations and the fish have more than cooperated. There were 68 teams registered for the 2018 tournament and that number is expected to grow.
Russ Bailey, host of Brushpile Fishing, is excited about this year’s tournament. “We actually had a spring this year, and the water is warmer. If we have stable weather, and we’re supposed to, there will be some phenomenal catches weighed in.” Bailey predicts that 7-fish limits weighing nine pounds or more will be weighed in on both days. “If the weather is good, all the teams will be catching fish. That’s something the best fishermen don’t like to hear. When fishing is tough, top fishermen still produce.” Bailey says that the secret to catching fish when they aren’t cooperating is to be patient. “That’s a tough thing to do when tournament fishing. The tendency is to move. Don’t do it. Tournament time is not the time to hunt fish.” Bailey suggests that fish could be taken from all forms of structure including brush, aluminum lifts, seawalls and rocks, and if the sun is bright, shooting pontoons could be the answer. “Fishermen from other areas might be using different tactics,” said Bailey. “I expect there will be some spider rigging, and those guys catch some big fish.”
This Super Event is a two-day tournament being held on April 26 and 27. Fishermen can choose to fish in either the amateur or professional division. Fishing is scheduled to start at 6:30 a.m. and finish at 3:00 p.m. Fishermen must be in the weigh-in line by 4:00 p.m. Depending on light conditions, the morning starting time will be officially announced at the required Thursday evening seminar. The seminar will be held at the Celina American Legion at 7:00 p.m. Late registration for the tournament is available from 5:00 p.m. until the seminar starts. This is an open tournament, but all participants must belong to the ACA. Memberships are available on site. The seminar is open to the public.
The weigh-in on both days will be held at the pavilion along Lake Shore Drive. Russ Bailey will be covering both weigh-ins on Facebook Live. Go to Brushpile Fishing for this coverage. Finally, to all of the fishermen coming to the area, enjoy yourself and be safe. Follow the no-wake rules and respect private property. No matter how limited or unintentional, touching private property is criminal trespass. Right or wrong, I imagine that a minor complaint might be enough to earn a disqualification. You can fish any water on the lake. Just don’t tie up to someone’s dock to take a snooze. The fishing should be more exciting than that.