Larry Woody's column: McCadams master of crappie craft

Larry Woody • Updated Jul 26, 2013 at 11:31 PM

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that doesn’t apply to crappie fishermen.

I’ve been fishing for crappie – and catching a considerable number – for over a half-century and I figured I knew about every kind of tackle, tip and technique in the book. But on a recent a trip with famed Kentucky Lake guide Steve McCadams, this old dog learned a nifty new lesson.

Steve showed me how to spice up a jig with a commercial bait produced by Berkley called Crappie Nibbles. The little marshmallow-like bits, which come in assorted colors, are impaled on the hook below the jig. They slowly dissolve in the water, releasing an imbedded scent.

Fishing out of Buchanan Resort in the Paris Landing area, Steve and I caught crappie until our arms ached.

I suppose I should add that anytime you fish with Steve McCadams the action is going to be hot – he’s one of the best fishermen I’ve ever known – but even he sometimes hits a lull. He says spicing up a lure with a Crappie Nibble or other similar brands can entice a bite from a reluctant crappie.

I’d seen Crappie Nibbles on the shelves at sporting goods stores, but figured they were some sort of gimmick better at catching fishermen than fish. But Steve made a believer of me. If McCadams says they work, they work.

Berkley can’t get a better endorsement than that.

Getting to fish with Steve is a special treat. He’s normally booked solid through the spring and summer, with clients traveling from as far away as California to fish with him.

One day last week he had a last-minute cancellation and called to see if I could make it over on short notice. I dropped the phone, grabbed my tackle box, and was on my way before he could hang up on the other end.

McCadams fishes out of Buchanan Resort, about a two-hour drive from Nashville. Taking I-24 to and thru Clarksville is slightly shorter, but I prefer going I-40 West, then up through Camden and Paris. The traffic’s lighter and the drive more scenic.

Buchanan and other area resorts are ideal for overnight stays, and for dining you can’t beat Paris Landing State Park.

The only problem with planning a trip with McCadams is finding a vacancy. Trips generally have to booked weeks if not months in advance. (Visit the Steve McCadams website for details and contact information.)

How widespread is Steve’s reputation as a top-notch angler? The other day while we were fishing, he got a call from USA Today requesting an interview for a national recreational story.

He is also a noted waterfowl guide who swaps his fishing boat for a duck blind during the winter. The rest of the year he concentrates on crappie (he also guides for other species, but crappie is his favorite) and he catches fish even during the scorching Dog Days of late summer.

The fish are there, even though sometimes they grow a tad lethargic. Getting them to cooperate requires the right bait and the right know-how. Steve McCadams has both.

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