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Ryan and Darin Young: Winning the American Crappie Trail National Championship

Equipment for Crappie Fishing

provided by John E. Phillips

What if you could catch crappie that weighed 1-1/2 pounds or better most every time you went fishing? What if you didn’t have to spider rig with four poles per person and only used one pole to catch the biggest crappie in a lake? What if you could use your depth finder to pinpoint the biggest crappie, follow it until the fish stopped and then put your bait right on the crappie’s nose? What if you could tell the difference between a crappie’s head and tail before you ever released your bait? This new technology is some of what has been introduced to the crappie-fishing world recently. Two anglers are forging a new path that other crappie fishermen surely will follow.

Ryan and Darin Young American Crappie Trail

Ryan Young of Eufaula, Oklahoma, isn’t only a crappie guide and a crappie tournament fisherman, he’s also a history teacher and offensive football coordinator at Checotah High School. He’s been crappie fishing for 24 years and has been fishing in crappie tournaments for 20. He often fishes the American Crappie Trail with his brother, Darin Young, and is sponsored by Lucas Oil. Ryan and Darin have fished together for as long as they can remember and fish about 8-10 crappie tournaments each year. They have won several state tournaments in Oklahoma, but the American Crappie Trail National Championship on Sardis Lake in Batesville, Mississippi, in early June 2020, was the first tournament they’d won out of state. Without using some of the newest crappie-fishing techniques, they wouldn’t have won this competition. 

“We couldn’t have won this tournament without our Garmin Panoptix LiveScope,” Ryan Young explained. “Throughout the tournament, we used B‘n’M Mossy Oak Brushcutter Rods, B‘n’M Sam Heaton Super Sensitive Jig Rods, and an 18’ B‘n’M Pro Staff Trolling Rod to catch spooky crappie. But we only fished one rod at a time, while catching the biggest crappie we could find. 

“At one point, Darin and I went to the east end of the lake and moved away from the channel to start looking for crappie on the flats where there were numbers of shad. This area had a lot of standing timber, but instead of fishing there, we moved out into open water and used our electronics to catch big crappie. We had a great day of practice and even better days during the tournament. We averaged catching 50-60 big crappie each day we fished. We never caught less than 10 pounds of crappie, and our biggest one weighed 2.1 pounds.” 

crappie catchTypes of Jigs:

While fishing, the Youngs used Pro Built jigs with June Bug-colored hair ties. 

According to Ryan, “We especially liked these jigs because of their extremely light wire hooks. For a bigger size, we used the Pro Built Extreme Sickle jig heads, and for live bait we liked to use the Pro Built Minnow Capps Coleman Minnow Riders. When we were fishing in open water, we fished black-and-chartreuse Bobby Garland Slab Slay’R 3-inch tubes with either an orange, a pink or a red jig head. Although the hair jig seemed to be critical for our success, we usually tied a 1/2-ounce sinker above a 1/16-ounce hair jig on a Pro Built Extra Lite No.2 crappie hook. Occasionally, we’d put a minnow or a waxworm on the hook behind the jig, and sometimes we’d just fish minnows alone. 

“We rigged our poles with various types of baits because over time, we learned that every crappie didn’t have the same preferences. For example, sometimes, a big crappie wouldn’t take the hook until we put a different bait in front of it. Very few crappie wouldn’t bite a jig during the championship, but when this did happen, often we could get the crappie to take a minnow. If we ever dropped two different baits right in front of a crappie, and it didn’t take either one, we’d leave that crappie and look for another fish to catch. We caught each fish using the single-pole LiveScoping technique, and every crappie that we caught was white except for one black crappie.”

If you’d like to learn more about the LiveScope or fish with Ryan Young or see the size of fish he’s catching, you can go to his Facebook page at Eufaula Boy’s Crappie Guide Service, or email him.

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