Trolling for Winter Crappie, Grenada Lake Style

  • Pontoon Boat crappie fishing offers spacious fun
  • Grenada Lake crappie are the biggest I have ever seen
  • Secret 20-foot long crappie rods are not imaginative, you should see the net!
Can you imagine fishing from a pontoon boat 24-feet long? The Model 824 Crappie Qwest Pontoon Boat has everything you need for fishing and more.

By Jason Houser

Are you looking for a big crappie? Well, look no further than the lake dubbed, “the home of three-pound crappie.”

Jordan Blair couldn’t be happier.

It might not have three-pound crappie hiding behind every submerged stump, but it holds its fair share of some big slabs. Not accustomed to catching crappie much over 12-inches in my home state of Illinois, the thought of catching trophy crappie was exciting. My wife, nephew, and mother were looking forward to this trip.

Our journey would be to Grenada, Mississippi to meet up with Jason Golding, owner of Grenada Lake Charters, who has decades of experience guiding clients to trophy crappie. Add-in state of the art, roomy, fishing pontoons from Angler Qwest, mouth-watering food and luxurious, yet cozy cabins, we knew we were about to embark on a fishing adventure that we would not soon forget.

Pulling up to the headquarters of Grenada Lake Charters, we found a spacious outdoor kitchen named the “Slab Shack,” it is equipped with all the amenities of a home kitchen, plus a fire pit. What more could you ask for? In no time, ribeye steaks and baked potatoes found the grill top that were soon on our plates along with fresh vegetables and bread. When you thought you had enough to eat, they brought out the homemade ice cream and pie. With full bellies, we planned out the next day’s schedule as we relaxed next to a warm fire. Soon after that, we retired for the night to a spacious “cabin” that I could have easily called home.

A grill full of perfectly-cooked ribeye steaks, does it get any better?

Having the opportunity to catch big crappie is one thing, but being able to do it in comfort is something different. Something else that was different was the act of trolling for crappies. Using 20-foot poles, we slowly maneuvered the pontoon through the stumps until a pole doubled over, raised the rod tip upward until the fish broke the water’s surface and was scooped up by an extra-long net. Admittedly, it took a little while to get used to not reeling when a fish took advantage of our minnows.

My wife, Lotte, holds up a pair of nice crappie caught while fishing with Grenada Lake Charters

Several times we had doubles and even triples. Not only that, but enough times that I lost count, the same angler was pulling in two crappies at once. Thankfully, the Model 824 Crappie Pontoon Boat by Angler Qwest provided enough room that we were able to stay out of each other’s way when things got a little hectic. Even I was able to make easy work of netting the fish. With a whopping 24-feet of pontoon boat length, it was pretty nice not having to trip over each other as we fought fish after fish.

If you have ever wanted to catch your limit of big crappie, Grenada Lake Charters are the people you need to contact They will work hard to get you on the fish. With fully exclusive packages, these trips are great for the entire family, a group of friends, or corporate events.

A warm fire on a cool autumn night was a great way to kick off the start to a great fishing trip with my family.

While this is the first time I had fished out of an Angler Qwest pontoon, I can’t say enough about these boats. I had never given any thought to fishing out of a pontoon, but have quickly become a believer in their many capabilities, even in rough water. With ample seating, plenty of storage, room to easily move about and a smooth ride, these boats are everything you need to fish or swim or picnic.  A great advantage to this boat is that they are built with the fisherman in mind, but they can be used for water skiing, entertaining, or doing absolutely nothing. These options might make it easier to convince your significant other to let you buy a “new pontoon boat for the family” without using the word “for fishing.”

Not only are crappie one of my favorite fish to eat, but the excitement of non-stop action has me already planning my next trip to Grenada Lake. And, after fishing from that Model 824 Crappie Pontoon Boat from Angler Qwest, I am doing a little more thinking about my next boat purchase.

For more info on those secretive 20-foot crappie poles, or to catch some whopper crappie just for the fun of it, give Grenada Lake Charter a holler at www.grenadalakecharters.com.  For more info about the Model 824 Crappie Pontoon Boat and other Angler Qwest Pontoons, visit www.anglerqwestpontoons.com.

The Slab Shack, the perfect outdoor kitchen.

Milwaukee’s Hidden Ice-Fishing Gem

  • Fun to catch fish through the ice in a new way: “FISH ON!”
  • Ever use the ice as a live well? Learn why. Catch, Care, Release.
  • Walking (running) on the ice to a raised Flag…an Adventure!
Bait down, lines, set, it wasn’t a long wait for a flag to rise, indicating a fish.

By Jason Houser

When you think of ice fishing for big trout, the last place you probably expect to drop a line in Milwaukee.  If you haven’t experienced fishing with the Milwaukee skyline as a backdrop, you are missing out.

Getting the call from Pat Kalmerton, owner of Wolf Pack Adventures, stating he had a cancellation for a couple of days was all I needed to hear. I dropped what I was doing and pointed the truck north from my home in southern Illinois. My wife Lotte was quick to start packing, and my nephew Jordan Blair quickly jumped on board too.

Arriving in Wisconsin, the cold temperatures and snow on the ground screamed ice fishing.  It was a restless night as we anticipated with hope what the following day would bring.

Jordan Blair holds a nice trout before releasing it.

Winding our way through the streets of Milwaukee, we could only hope our GPS was taking us to where we were supposed to be.  After a few stoplights, we spotted waves bashing against a rock wall.  Then there it was, the marina had ice, and ice shanties were visible in the distance.

Roe from previously caught and released fish tied in colored mesh cloth was the bait of choice.

Parking the truck, we made the short walk to the Wolf Pack crew that already had their Frabill shacks in place, and the heaters were putting out enough heat to stay comfortable from the brutal elements outside.  Tip-ups belonging to numerous anglers dotted the ice, all with the hopes of a flag-waving proudly to signal a bite in the near future.

With an explanation from Tyler Chisholm, Jordan Bradley, and Jerrad Kalmerton what to expect throughout the morning, we went to face Mother Nature to get our rigs baited.  Our bait was going to be one of two things: shrimp or eggs that were milked from previously caught and released trout.

Having our bait lowered to the proper depth, it was just a matter of waiting.  If you like to toss a football, there is no better time to do it than when you are waiting for a tip-up to spring to life. Or, maybe grilling a burger on a portable grill better suits your taste.  Within 30 minutes, shouts of “FISH ON” came from our guides.

As they ran to the flag, we southerners gingerly made our way to the hole.  Not wanting to lose the fish, they set the hook on a fish as they patiently waited for our safe arrival.  I’m sure a few jokes were made on our behalf, but at least we didn’t fall.

My nephew Jordan was first up to bat.  Having never ice fished before, he was anxious to pull a fish through the ice.  Jerrad and Tyler did a great job coaching him as he worked the big trout to the surface.  When they realized Jordan was a little too forceful with the fish, they got him to calm down.  After a few minutes of reeling and lifting, a glimmer of silver showed right below the hole in the ice.

A makeshift Livewell was chiseled into the ice.

It was easy to realize that this was a nice trout.  Within seconds, a nice Brown Trout emerged from the hole.  The fish was quickly taken to a live well that had been chiseled into the ice.  This would be done to allow us to get the fish in water and prevent the fins from freezing, a critical practice for catch and release intentions.  Then, it was a simple task to take some fun photos of the fish, as time allowed, before releasing it back into the chilly depths of the big lake.

The action continued for the next couple hours as we caught brown trout and steelhead.  By noon, we were ready to pull our lines to get someplace that was a little warmer.  The shack was heated, but with all the action we were having throughout the morning, a seemingly permanent chill invaded our bodies.  Our hands received the brute of the punishment from wanting to get first-hand instruction on baiting the hooks and holding big chilly fish.

Throughout the course of the day, we were able to witness eggs being harvested from big trout and then releasing the fish to be caught again sometime in the future. This practice is something I have never seen or even heard of before, but it is special. It is a sustainability practice. The care that was taken with the fish to ensure survival was something I will never forget. It was a great reminder that fishing isn’t about filling the freezer, but about enjoying the catch, keeping enough for a meal, and releasing the rest.

Wolf Pack Adventures is based out of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and offers ice fishing for other species, including whitefish, walleye, panfish, and more.  Fishing out of one of their many boats from spring through fall is another option for anglers looking to land walleye, trout, salmon, musky, and more.  And, if turkey hunting suits your fancy, they do that too.

With the City of Milwaukee in the background, the fishing was exceptional.