Terry Bivins has had a whale of a year.
In January and February, he was the talk of Lake Texoma. Fishing guides stopped him to inquire about his tactics. Tackle-shop proprietors wanted to know about the lures he used. And Bivins told everyone who asked what to use, as well as where and how to use it.
During that spell, Bivins caught over 1,000 striped bass, white bass and crappies from that 90,000-acre reservoir that lies on the border between Texas and Oklahoma.
Nine of the striped bass that he boated weighed over 15 pounds; the biggest pushed the scale to the 20-pound mark.
He caught oodles of crappies over two pounds, and there were some three-pounders. A lot of the white bass were heavyweights, too.
On his best day, Bivins hoisted more than 150 fish over the gunnel of his boat. He regularly averaged between 30 and 60 fish a day.
He wasn't using a secret lure. He worked with either a 1/4-ounce or a 3/8-ounce jig in a silverish-gray hue, which Leroy Spellman manufactures in Mount Vernon, Mo. It's merely a heavier version of the 1/8-ounce jig that Bivins has used to waylay the crappies at Clinton and Perry lakes over the last several years.
Bivins ties the 1/4-ounce jig to eight-pound line and the 3/8-ounce one to 10-pound line, working them on medium-heavy spinning outfits. And he subdued that 20-pound striper on his eight-pound rig.
Anytime he probed dropoffs in 40 to 45 feet of water, he used the 3/8-ounce jig. The rest of the time he used a 1/4-ounce one.
The preponderance of the crappies came out of brush piles in 32 feet of water; the white bass rollicked about the dropoffs in pursuit of shad in 35 feet of water.
The vast majority of the stripers were taken in water deeper than 30 feet, and they were usually sashaying along the edge of a dropoff in search of shad. The biggest stripers preferred to position themselves near a stump at the end of a main-lake hump.
Bivins used his sonar devices to pinpoint the whereabouts of the fish, shad, stumps, dropoffs and brush. Then he merely dropped one of the gray jigs in front of a crappie, white bass or striper.
Over the years, Bivins, of Merriam, has exhibited an uncanny talent for piscatorial provocation. Lately he has been at Perry, ruffling the crappies, catching as many as 200 on his best outings. A lot of those crappies weighed over a pound, and a few surpassed two pounds.
There are a number of ways to catch crappies at Perry. Bivins, however, does it differently than anyone else. He likes to cast an 1/8-ounce jig and slowly retrieve it at the appropriate depth.
Throughout the month on May, Bivins was spied around Perry's Longview Public Use Area, standing in front of his vintage bass boat, operating the trolling motor and making extremely long cast and catching crappies.
And here's how he did it:
He fished several small humps that sit 100 feet from the shoreline. These humps are littered with brush and stumps. The tops of the humps were covered with four feet of water and eventually dropped off into 19 feet of water.
He used either a gray or chartreuse 1/8-ounce jig on eight-pound line rigged on spinning tackle.
Day in and day out, the crappies preferred the jig to hop delicately off the bottom.
Bivins performed the subtle hop by allowing the jig to settle to the bottom after the cast. Then he pointed the tip of the rod at the water and slowly turned the reel handle a couple of times. Thereupon he stopped the retrieve and letting the jig fall to the bottom, creating a hop. He employed this stop-and-go retrieval into 15 feet of water.
According to Bivins, the crappies will engulf the jig anywhere along its route. And he says he can catch them at Perry with this technique from May Day to Thanksgiving.