How do you catch a world record crappie or even a state record crappie? You start by fishing in reservoirs, rivers or ponds where big crappie live. Next you fish during prime times when big crappie are biting. Early spring typically is the time when crappie weigh the heaviest and ponds are a great place to target world record crappie.
The current world record holder Lionel “Jam” Ferguson wasn’t targeting world record crappie when he caught the 5-pound, 7-ounce world record black crappie. “I was just out fishing for crappie to eat that day and ended up only catching two crappie. One was around 4-pounds and the other the world record black crappie. The smaller crappie ended up getting cleaned while the bigger one turned out to be a State of Tennessee Black Crappie record along with the IGFA All-Tackle record,” said Ferguson.
Ferguson was fishing from the bank with a soft plastic grub rigged on a 1/8-ounce jighead. “The area had lots of grass and I was just casting it out and slow rolling it back when the crappie hit my lure,” said Ferguson.
“Some people like to fish, but I love to fish. If I’m not working I’m fishing. Me and my whole family love to go fishing. We normally go fishing from the bank since I don’t own a boat,” said Ferguson.
While fishing from the bank, Ferguson is looking at the shoreline to see any areas that will hold fish. Structure adjacent to the bank can be prime locations for big crappie. Ferguson is also looking for current as that will position the crappie next to cover or structure. “In the springtime crappie will come up and feed or lay their eggs and that brings in the big crappie,” said Ferguson.
Targeting smaller bodies of water that have limited fishing pressure is where the majority of world record black crappie are caught. Weather can also play a part of catching a world record crappie. The day Ferguson caught the record crappie a front had moved in and the changing weather incite the big crappie to feed.
Black Crappie in Tennessee by Lionel “Jam” Ferguson while fishing in Richeison’s Pond in Philadelphia, Tennessee in May 2018 (5-pounds, 7-ounces).
It’s also the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) all-tackle world record for a Black Crappie. Plus the Tennessee State Record after a DNA test confirmed the fish as a black crappie.
Black Crappie in Missouri by John R. Hortsman in a private lake on April 2006 (5-pounds)
Black Crappie in Illinois by Ryan Povolish in Kinkaid Lake, March 2008 (4-pounds, 8-ounces)
White Crappie in Illinois by Mike Zimmer on Kinkaid Lake, March 2010 (4-pounds, 4-ounces)
Black Crappie in Arkansas by Donivan Echols on Lake Wilhelmina, June 2011 (5-pounds)
White Crappie in Arkansas by Shelby Cooper on Mingo Creek, April 1993 (4-pounds, 7-ounces)
Black Crappie in Utah by Jim Maack on Lake Powell, April 2011 (3-pounds, 5-ounces)
Tennessee Record Holder
Ferguson said the process of confirming turned out to be a slow one. First he had it weighed on a certified scale at a local grocery store. Next the Tennessee Wildlife Authorities sent in samples of crappie to Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to confirm that Ferguson’s crappie was a pure strain black crappie and not a hybrid.
Note that hybrid crappie are the first generation cross breeding between a white crappie and black crappie. The Hybrid Crappie produced by J. M. Malone and Son, Inc is the original cross between an Arkansas Black Nosed Black Crappie male and white crappie female resulting in a hybrid crappie with a black stripe running down its nose. The black stripe is the result of a recessive gene.
What should you do if you catch a state record crappie or IGFA All-Tackle record?
*Get the fish weighed on a certified scale
*Use a soft tape measuring tape to measure the length and girth of the fish
*Take photos and videos of your fish
*Contact your local Game & Fish about your catch
All-Tackle records are maintained by IGFA for 1,472 saltwater and fresh water species. In a typical year, IGFA will get around 500 applications for world records. For any fish to be consider an All-Tackle record an angler has to register the fish, in addition to being caught according to the IGFA’s Angling Rules, weighed on a certified scale and angler has to provide tackle the fish was caught on along with photo documentation plus a signed and notarized application for IGFA world record. To find out more about IGFA records in fresh water, saltwater, fly fishing and junior angler go to www.igfa.org.