MANY, La. -- Hard work, not luck, has always been the key to catching crappie consistently. Dennis Tietje and his buddies at Living the Dream Guide Service do the hard work -- building and maintaining brushpiles in Toledo Bend Reservoir. Their clients enjoy the fruits of those labors - usually a 25-fish daily limit of crappie.
No guide can guarantee a limit each day, no matter where they're fishing or what the species. But LTD guides have become so good at finding crappie on Toledo Bend they were forced to add a caveat to the service: Seven hours OR your limit, whichever comes first. It's almost always the latter, and it rarely takes anywhere near seven hours.
"Nobody complains about that," laughed Tietje.
One day last spring the LTD guides cleaned 657 crappie; 28 people fishing from two party barges finished a mere 43 crappie short of 28 limits. There were definitely no complaints that day.
April, May and June are primetime for catching crappie on Toledo Bend. This year Tietje (pronounced "tee-jay") has been crappie fishing more than he'd prefer, after taking a medical leave of absence from the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series following back surgery last November.
But he's not complaining either. Even throughout the hottest months of the summer, Tietje has been guiding his clients to daily limits of crappie on Toledo Bend.
"This a great deal for the family," he said. "Everybody can catch 'em."
Toledo Bend, the 185,000-acre, 65-mile-long reservoir on the Texas-Louisiana border, has long been famous for bass fishing. But catching crappie here rates a close second.
"I haven't failed to limit-out yet," Tietje said in early September.
As the water starts cooling, crappie fishing picks up to a spring-like pace again, especially in October and November.
The following photos take you through a day on the lake with Dennis Tietje, from breakfast in the morning at Toledo Town & Tackle to filleting the catch at Living the Dream "headquarters" -- Jerry Thompson's dock on Toledo Bend. (www.ltdguideservice.com)
Click image for photos of crappie fishing on Toledo Bend: