Knee Deep in Action
By Todd Vinyard
MEMPHIS - Richard Tucker isn't against fishing in a boat, but the Tupelo, Miss., resident firmly believes there are times when wading is the way to go.
After all, in the course of a day on foot at Sardis and Enid lakes in Mississippi, he can see a large swimming snake, blue herons, a bass playing hide-and-seek with a stump and even a wading raccoon.
Tucker enjoys the challenges of combining fishing tactics to experience the thrill of wading. From fly-fishing to spin casting, he tries a bit of it all on lakes like Sardis and Enid in North Mississippi. He also enjoys the mix of emotion that comes with wading.
"It is scary and exciting," Tucker said. "Scary to see the weeds and water move as huge gar or carp explode near your feet. And as you ease past a gigantic snake resting in the tree above the water right next to you. Exciting to try to land a huge bass that won't let you get near him and keeps trying to go between your legs to escape, thinking you are a tree. It's a lot like hunting. Sneaking up on fish - and all the other things out there like raccoons."
Taking a different look at the wildlife is all part of the allure of wading, but of course the next question is, can you catch fish?
The answer is yes. Tucker and his friend John Hardy of Oxford, Miss., recently had luck on Sardis. They started with large, floating Rapalas, fishing real slow. As evening approached, the fish became more aggressive, and they picked up a few on Colorado blade spinners and buzzbaits.
"We were fishing in 1 to 2 feet of water," Tucker said. "We were looking for clear water in the flooded fields."
Wading can be a very effective technique, says Bill Dance, a professional fisherman and television personality.
"For adventurous fishermen, it can be highly productive," Dance said. "Your feet can go places where your boat can't, and that is often where some fish are that have not seen a lot of lures. I see a number of people all around the Mid-South at Arkabutla, Enid, Sardis and Moon Lake wading. And the people who do it catch fish."
Dance said he has even seen anglers take their boat up to a certain area and than wade from there.
It's a good idea when wading to remember to carry extra lures and equipment in your wader pockets to save you having to make several trips back to shore, says Dance.
"You obviously can't carry a tackle box, but having an assortment of lures helps," he said.
And while an advantage to wading is that your body becomes a built-in depth finder, you might also want to wear a float tube if you are unsure about the depth, he said.
Fishing while wading can cause an angler to really concentrate on each cast and what is going on, Tucker said.
When wading for crappie or bass in Mid-South lakes, consider choosing tougher waders than normal with the terrain anglers will encounter, said Stewart Bronson of Tommy Bronson's Sporting Goods in Memphis.
"Sometimes folks use their duck waders," Bronson said. "A clear cleat boot instead of the normal felt boot is a good idea."
After the waders have been purchased then it is time to focus on what lures will work.
Dance said crappie jigs one-sixteenth ounce or one-eighth ounce are effective, as is an umberalla jig. In off-colored water try spinnerbaits for bass, and in clear to stained water try buzzbaits, Dance advised. If the fish are not real aggressive, a worm or lizard is a good idea in clear water and if the terrain allows it, a top-water lure might work.
Bronson said to keep in mind you might want a 7 to 9 weight fly rod for bass since it would helping when throwing heavier flies required.
Fly-fishing for bass can be successful, because the fly will look very appealing, said Wolf River Trading Company's Jud Parker.
Some general flies Parker recommends are Clouser minnows, deer hair bass bugs, and Deceivers.
Fly-fishermen should keep in mind bass will provide more impulse strikes than trout do, Parker said.
Parker said he hears from a lot of customers who enjoy going fishing by wading in the lakes or in boats without motors.
"Fish can hear very well, so it is very important to be as quiet as possible to have a good experience," Parker said.
Tucker's first experiences wading were at Enid with his grandfather, Clyde Ray of Water Valley. And while he has continued, even with a fly rod for bass from time to time, he still hears remarks from surprised boaters.
"I was out one time and heard some guys in a boat say, 'That guy is fly-fishing,' " Tucker said, laughing at their amusement. "It isn't strange for me, because I love to fish and don't mind going places other people haven't."
For Tucker, the next time out was this weekend, and even though he had a canoe ready to go, the question was: Will he wade at some point?
"Of course," he said.
(Todd Vinyard is a outdoors writer for the Commercial Appeal in Memphis)
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