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JR. AND TRAVIS TRITT
TEAM UP FOR CRAPPIE
(KENTUCKY LAKE LURES LEGENDS)
It was a great day to
be alive and these two country boys could indeed survive as the setting
sun over Kentucky Lake drew the curtain on a warm spring afternoon.
Far from the spotlights and roaring crowds were two country music
legends whose southern roots shared more than just picking and grinning.
It was also their love of the great outdoors that brought them together on
this dogwood afternoon on Kentucky Lake during the crappie spawn.
Last week I shared my floating home away from home with Hank Williams,
Jr., and Travis Tritt as we cast light tackle for slab crappie here in the
Paris Landing area. These two giants of the entertainment world were here
to tangle with some giants of the fishing world, namely Kentucky Lake slab
Both had set aside some time between tour dates and recording new
albums to link up here and just lay back and absorb it all. Each spring
Hank loves to tangle with a few crappie and toss them into a skillet,
rendering a golden brown fish fry of his own crappie fillets.
Hank had invited Tritt up for a Tennessee weekend where catching fish
and roaming the woods for a strutting gobbler were all part of the deal.
"This is sure beautiful country and you're lucky to have this great
lake around you," said Tritt, who grew up in southern Georgia and still
calls it home. "It's amazing to have these rolling hills and woods along
the shoreline. Good fishing and hunting right here at your door without
"That's one of the reasons I'm here," said Hank, pointing to the
ridges where he hunted deer and turkey for years with pal Bill Dyer. "And
these slab crappie are some of the biggest in the country. That's why they
call it the "Crappie Capital", he chuckled.
After a week of high winds and cool weather, I chose to hit a few
crappie beds in the 6 to 10 foot zone where the fish were moving up and on
the verge of spawning. Things had been pretty slow and the fish were
inconsistent as to their whereabouts. A day or so later I would fill the
cooler from these same spots but it was a one-here, one-there scenario on
Light spinning gear was the approach we took, tossing 1/8-ounce curly
tail grubs on six-pound line around submerged structure, which I'd placed
in the lake during the winter months.
After a few snags and light hits, we corralled four dandy crappie from
one spot. After repeated casts to the same locale, Travis set the hook and
the rod bent double. Hank had given him a light action, Loomis rod and the
slab crappie on the other end was putting it to a test.
"Take it easy and don't horse him," said Hank, reaching for the net as
the big fish rolled up to the surface.
"All right. Man what a fish," said Tritt, grinning from ear to ear as
he hoisted the big slab chest high. While he and Hank admired the slab I
grabbed a camera and took a shot or two.
It was only a matter of minutes before these two tunesmiths broke into
song and shared several memories of past and present happenings in their
musical world. Both have written songs which reflect their admiration for
the outdoors and on this day it was again a destination and outlet for
"I've been working on a new album and it's about half finished,"
responded Tritt, as I asked him when he would hit the road again and
resume a busy concert schedule. "I'm headed back to Nashville from here
and plan to complete it in May. Then, I'll do a couple of shows in
southern Georgia and Florida before starting a long tour late this
In-between casts the two talked a little music and shared laughs about
various artists in the industry. They bounced a few ideas off each other,
clearly showing their mutual respect.
"I'll bet it's a sight here in the fall with all these hardwoods
around the lake," continued Tritt. "Down in Georgia we're getting a lot of
clear cutting and it's sad to see the scars on the hillsides."
"Same thing here," said Hank, pointing to a ridge in Stewart County
where logging had left a somewhat barren hilltop."
With a few interruptions from some dark male crappie loading onto
swimming jigs, we meandered a slow path for a few hours. Stops here and
there produced a few fish as a gale wind whipped the boat around and made
casting to the specific spot somewhat of a challenge.
"Do you like to hunt and fish," I asked Travis as we motored back into
Eagle Creek. "Man I love it. My father-in-law operates a bird-hunting farm
down in Florida where he trains dogs on his quail preserve. It's a sight
to see those dogs work and go from a dead run to a frozen point."
After two afternoons of testing the waters of Kentucky Lake we shook
hands and went our separate ways. Both these icons of the country music
world would go back to the demands of their business yet somewhat relaxed
from the outings.
Over the years Hank has taken more time to enjoy the great outdoors.
From African safaris to extended stays at his ranch in Montana, Bocephus
loves the smell of a campfire and often extends the invitation to some of
his rowdy friends.
After a couple of photos on the lake, we traded handshakes and used up
the last of the light. I asked both to help me with an item or two for my
upcoming "Casting For A Cure" Kids Fishing Rodeo and both agreed to with
enthusiasm and interest.
A couple of autograph seekers got word of the celebrities on hand and
greeted us at the dock, pen in hand. After signing a couple of tee shirts
and a parting goodbye to the crappie on ice, Hank and Travis headed west.
While it may be a spell before these two get together again here on
Kentucky Lake, their voices are never far apart as my truck radio filled
the cab with Tritt's voice on "Where Corn Don't Grow" and Hank's "Family
Funny how just a few minutes earlier these two outdoor lovin' men were
here on Kentucky Lake with me in the boat and now also riding home with me
courtesy of a Dee-jay somewhere. Ain't that something?
For more pictures from Hank
and Travis...click here
is a professional hunting and fishing guide here in the Paris Landing
area and host of The Outdoor Channel's television series IN-PURSUIT.