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RECENT CRAPPIE CATCH LIKELY TOPS FOR KENTUCKY LAKE
Dale Jernigan of Goodlettsville recently landed what may be the biggest
crappie ever taken on Kentucky Lake. About ten days ago he was fishing in
Eagle Creek and casting curly tail grubs toward shallow shorelines when
history may have been made.
From a pontoon Jernigan and some friends were beating the banks over some
of his dad Howard Jerniganís old beds when the slab fell prey to his
1/16-ounce chartreuse grub.
ďI saw it and yelled ďget the netĒ but I didnít have any idea it was that
big,Ē said a still excited Jernigan via telephone more than a week after
the catch. ďWe kept on fishing for about an hour as we had some pretty
good ones and wanted to keep fishing while they were biting.Ē
ďPretty soon we boated to shore and I headed over to Kirkís and Lakeview
Grocery to have it weighed and enter their big fish contest,Ē continued
Jernigan, who has a house trailer in the Pine Point area and visits here
The 51-year old crappie fisherman got quite a surprise when the certified
scales at Lakeview settled in at 3.98 pounds! He got an even bigger
surprise when the certified scaled at Kirkís Trading Post locked in at
While itís somewhat of a mystery as to two certified scales showing two
different weights there is a possibility as to moisture or water entering
the equation. Either way itís a dandy.
According to fisheries biologist the photo revealed it to be a female
black crappie. Jernigan said it measured 18 ĺ -inches long.
Needless to say, Jerniganís crappie is the talk of the town around the
Kentucky Lake fishing community as the news is spreading about the hefty
In my 37-years as a professional guide it is the biggest crappie I have
heard of. Unfortunately, I did not get to see the fish up close and
personal. However, pal Jim Napier, boating safety officer for Tennessee
Wildlife Resources Agency did and told me about it.
I was somewhat skeptical upon first hearing the news. After all, Iíve
fished Kentucky Lake for about 50-years and talked to a lot of older
anglers---ranging from guides to commercial fishermen---and no one seemed
to recall any official weight for a crappie as big as Jerniganís catch.
Still somewhat reluctant to embrace the fishing story I contacted
fisheries biologists in Tennessee and Kentucky. My question to them
inquired about any bigger crappie taken by them during netting,
electrofishing samples, or awareness from any such slab taken by a sport
No one seems to know of a crappie topping Jerniganís trophy catch. As it
stands now itís the unofficial Kentucky Lake record as no lake records are
actually documented by state fish and wildlife agencies. There are state
records but not recordings of lake records.
Tennesseeís state record crappie stands at 5 pounds, 1 ounce taken from a
private lake in Dickson County way back in 1968. That fish is only two
ounces off the official world record taken by Fred Bright at Lake Enid
Mississippi in 1957.
During a stubborn spring when crappie fishing has been off for the
majority of anglers it seems Jernigan may have had his best day ever on
He was at the right place at the right time with the right lure. I tip my
hat to him as he managed to do what I and about a million other anglers
have not done; he landed perhaps the biggest crappie ever reported since
TVA closed the gates at Kentucky Dam back in the mid 1940ís.
Thatís saying something.
Even though I didnít get to see the fish first hand, Jernigan promised to
unite me with the specimen once he gets it back from the taxidermist.
Iíll admire it and likely pet it a time or two in awe, wondering just how
many times my hooks may have passed by the lovely lady. She will soon
adorn the wall of another lucky angler.
Surely you didnít think he ate such a fish did you?
Donít laugh as stranger things have happened here in the Deep South!
Steve McCadams is a professional hunting and fishing guide here in the Paris Landing
area. He has also contributed many outdoor oriented articles to
various national publications.