Visiting Hannibal, Mo for the first time carries one back in history to the days of riverboats and youngsters fishing off the levee.  One cannot miss all the mentions of Mark Twain and his most popular characters, Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and Becky Thatcher.

Just outside of town is Mark Twain Lake, a recreational and flood-control lake with a power generation facility.  Air temperatures are high and so are the water temps forcing the crappies deep in search of a comfort zone.

It is a different experience to fish from the deck of a pontoon boat.  Guide Lynn Tharp uses the pontoon for groups of three or more.  With two angles he uses a bass boat.  For cold weather river fishing on the nearby Mississippi River he prefers a Jon boat.

Tharp is a multi-species guide who fishes the winter months for walleye sauger on the river or for bass on Thomas Hill Lake near Macon, MO.  From spring through fall his activities center on crappies on Mark Twain Lake.  He refers to his style as “Bass Fishing for Crappie.”

The pattern is a matter of moving frequently around the lake to locate fish.  On a hot day like today the frequent moving aids in providing a cooling breeze for the angler.

A popular time for finding spawning crappie on this lake tends to begin about the 3rd or 4th week in April under normal water conditions.  It begins as the water begins to warm.  The lack of water clarity can create problems.  The young fish have difficulty finding the shad forage.  As a result the shad outgrow the size which the youngsters require.

Crappies here grow about 2-inches per year as opposed to 4-inches per year on other lakes.

Tharp likes to fish the late morning as the shad rise to the surface in great numbers and the crappies follow them.

Anglers are free to bring their own tackle, but Linn does provide Shakespeare rods and spinning reels for customers who desire them.  Reels are spooled with yellow monofilament in 6 or 8 pound test.  With the 6 pound line he uses 1/16th once jigs.  With heavier line he moves up to 1/8th once.  He prefers the heavier line and jigs for windy conditions.

Jigs are enhanced with a Power nugget threaded onto the shank of the hook up tight to the head of the jig.  Lynn believes that the white crappie nuggets are too moist when fresh out of the jar.  He allows them to dry out overnight out of the jar.  This allows them to stay on the hook longer, according to Tharp.  Jigs are tied on in a position that is at a 45-degree angle to the line when held vertically.

Yellow line is used to allow the angler better visibility.  It does not bother the fish due to the very limited visibility in this lake.

Lynne fishes the sunken logs along the shore.  He catches most of his fish in less than 10 feet of water.  To book a trip on the lake with Lynn’s Guide Service contact him at 573-267-3420 or 573-822-2177.  His website is


One response to “IN THE SHOES OF HUCK FINN

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  1. Pingback: IN THE SHOES OF HUCK FINN | Don Gasaway's Blog

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