Slammin', Twisting & Turning on Extreme Angler TV's South West Road Trip
Just returned from one of the most "extreme" road trips ever taken during my ten years filming and producing Extreme Angler Television.This trip began in Ole` Mississippi with good buddy Tim Blackley who was just introduced as one of the new Strike King Lure Co crappie pro staff as we fished on the world renowned monster crappie location known as Grenada Lake.This being my second time to Grenada (filmed an awesome show last year vertical jigging brush) I arrived just as the storms and heavy rainfall of the south west we`re raising water depths some 6-8 feet in less than a day, which made the lake extremely dirty and scattered the bigger crappie into a wider range of locations, but Tim and I braved the heavy winds and muddy conditions and located smaller schools of the big slabs with Strike King slab hammer grubs on bright pink jigheads in depths ranging from 3 to 5 feet of water.You know the Crappie are big when you don`t even consider lifting them into the boat!"Get the net" are three words heard quite often when fishing for Grenada`s monster sized Crappie.The next day I hooked up with another good buddy, Jake Tippee from Alabama and fished Wilson lake for some more Crappie and largemouth bass. We hit some proven locations below the dam and smacked Stripers, Largemouth and giant catfish before we headed down river to some back bays for one of my favorite ways to fish for bass, flipped and pitched until we got blisters on our hands. Hit some real nice fish and Jake nailed a real nice largemouth right at the end of the filming day for good measure. When we put the camera`s down after a long of filming, it was just to nice outside to put the boat on the trailer so we head back up to the dam and cast crankbaits along the rip rap and boulders for smallies and hit some more slab Crappie, which made for a great way to end this particular day on the water.
The next day was a real treat to fish with my fellow Strike King pro team member Roger Stegall back in Mississippi on Pickwick lake for deep water Largemouth bass with Strike King 6XD crankbaits. A long night of constant rainfall raised the lake levels more and made the water even more murky but the Chartruese sexy shad deep diving crankbaits did the trick on this day and made for one very exciting, informative and action packed show with over 20+ fish in the three to four and a half pound range. We had to get our lures down fast and scrap the bottom to stir up the fish and once we paused the lures on the retrieve, the bass would smash `em hard.
On the last day of my trip, I headed back to Alabama to fish with Jake, we had planned to fish Wheeler lake for bass in the morning, before I had to head to the airport to fly back home that evening but cancelled it as the rain came again and with it severe wind, hail and some of the most extreme weather conditions I have ever witnessed in my life. I knew it was getting serious when the small creeks we drove over just a day earlier we`re flooding the roads and then the tornado sirens began, signalling it was about to get real bad.Well, long story short, we decided to pack up and get to the airport a bit earlier just in case I could arrange an earlier flight out of `bama, but we ran into a slight problem on the way to the airport as twisters and tornado`s we`re touching down all across Alabama. At one point, Jake informed me that we might have to pull over to the side of the highway, run to the treeline and strap our belts around a tree and hold on for dear life or lay flat in one of the concrete storm drains as one of the tornado`s was only a few miles behind us, thank goodness for his Hemi truck as we outran that one and got to the airport, but the nightmare was only beginning.We tried to check in and get our boarding passes when the airport security staff advised everyone to close shop and hide in one of the airport rest rooms as tornado #2 was heading our way. It was something right out of a movie, a bad one at that.Well, we we`re lucky the twister missed the airport and we tried to board a flight as quickly as we could, but just as soon we had confirmed our seats aboard the plane, the word came out again, that everyone including airport staff, pilots, crew members anyone else had to find shelter once again in the restrooms, as another huge one-half mile wide tornado was heading our way.Being the curious one, I thought it might be a good idea to take some photos and video of this one as I have never seen anything quite so evil or powerful coming our way in a cloud so intense it darkened the afternoon sky as black as night.Airport security and police didn`t quite see it that way and demanded I get away from the huge windows that surrounded the airport, informing me that there would be no warning whatsoever if the storm came close enough to shatter the windows, cutting me to pieces, I didn`t argue with them.Got lucky once again as another tornado missed the airport, but this time hit the power plant knocking out power to the entire airport and surrounding area.All flights got cancelled and it was our responsibility to find overnight accomodations in this mess.Airport hotel booked full immediately.Went outside the airport to flag down a taxi and almost got carried away by the severe wind and rain storms raging thru the area once again.Cabbed it to several more hotels before we found an empty room, but had to navigate thru the lobby, stairways, halls and actual hotel room in the pitch black with the only light coming from my blackberry.Almost felt like Will Smith in "I am Legend" as everyone was locked in their rooms and not a sole to be seen anywhere.Got lucky one more time, when the storms blew thru and awoke to yet another cloudy, overcast day but with no life threating conditions.Feel really bad for the very friendly and kind folks of the South West from Mississippi, thru Alabama and into Georgia as well, prayers and thoughts go out to each and every one of them as reports have more than 250 people losing their lives during this storm.
Check out some of the Youtube videos of this storm and I`m sure you`ll be able to see just how wide and massive these tornado`s really were.I had to thank the "big guy upstairs" for sparing this guy and letting me cast yet another day.DId it put a damper on my trip to the South West?, slightly, but good ole` southern hospitality in Mississippi and Alabama mixed with, good friends, awesome fishing and a ton of mouth watering barbeque and southern food will inspire me back.A big thanks to all my buddies and friends in the south west who made this trip a success once again.Take care I `ll see you all again very soon.