Crappie grow to rare weights

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - From Grenada to Eagle to Neshoba, crappie are moving in shallow to spawn. And they are big.

At Grenada Lake, often considered to be the best crappie lake in the nation, anglers are regularly pulling out three-pounders and competitors in a recent Magnolia Crappie Club tournament witnessed some of their heaviest weights ever.

“That was crazy, man. I’ll tell you what,” tournament director Terry Stewart said. “We’ve never seen anything like that.

“It was unbelievable. We’ve never seen so many three-pounders. We’ve had some three-pounders in a tournament, but to have 13? That was just crazy.”

The total weights were just as wild. “We had nine places over 18 pounds,” Stewart said. “I’ve seen 17-pounds win it at Grenada. We were shocked.”

MCC only allows teams to weigh in seven fish, so many anglers were averaging close to three pounds per fish.

Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks biologist Keith Meals wasn’t shocked.

“We had unusually high water levels in ‘09 to ‘10 over the winter,” Meals said. “We had abnormally high numbers of fish that survived.”

Meals said the spawn in 2009 was very successful, and the following winter’s high water prevented large numbers of fish from being pushed through the spillway. Now those 2009 fish are showing up as trophy-class slabs.

“Those 2009’s are hitting three pounds,” Meals said.

At Neshoba County Lake near Philadelphia, the big-fish bite is turning on as well.

“It started about two weeks ago,” lake manager Chuck Hazelwood said. “I’m not seeing a lot of fish, but they are big.”

One angler recently finished his day with a dozen slabs, two of which were black crappie that weighed 2.8-pounds each.

“I’m sure there are some bigger ones out there, but that’s what I’ve seen so far,” Hazelwood said.

“We’re talking 15- to 16-inch fish, and they’re thick.”

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