Ah, springtime in Paris!
Paris, Tennessee, that is, site of Paris Landing State Park and Buchanan Resort on Kentucky Lake, home to some of best crappie fishing in the entire Southeast.
I'm tempted to say THE best -- certainly it's the best I've ever had -- although I confess I haven't fished all of the famed crappie hotspots in Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas.
But it's hard to imagine any better crappie fishing than what Kentucky Lake offers, especially when legendary guide Steve McCadams is in charge of the trip.
I've fished with Steve at least once every spring in recent years and an looking forward to a return trip soon. The only problem with fishing with Steve is getting worked into his busy schedule. This time of year he's generally booked solid, with clients coming from as far away as Texas and California to fish with him.
I've never fished with Steve when we failed to catch all the crappie we wanted. The daily limit is 30, or 60 for the two of us, but we keep only about half that many -- all I care to take home and clean. The rest we put back for someone else to catch.
Steve started guiding in 1972, and during almost four decades he's never failed to catch fish. He says some days are slower than others, and some days are rougher in terms of wind, rain and cold/hot weather, but he never strikes out.
The secret to his success is just that: secret stake beds.
Steve spends part of the winter, when he's not guiding duck hunters, hammering wooden stakes into the bottom of the lake. The clusters of stakes average around five feet or so, similar to the TWRA fish attractors that are common on area lakes.
The difference is that Steve's stake beds aren't marked from the surface like the TWRA's, so nobody else can find and fish them. He marks each bed on a GPS. He can hone in on it, then use his trolling motor and depth finder to position the boat directly over the bed.
When you get in position and drop a jig or minnow down into the 10-15 feet over the stake bed, a crappie bite is virtually assured.
Steve is not being selfish by keeping his private stake beds a secret -- he readily offers general fishing information to anyone who asks, and even writes an outdoors-advice column for his hometown Paris newspaper.
But, as he explains, as a professional guide his first obligation is to his paying customers, and he wants to make sure they catch fish. And they do.
Steve is not only the best crappie fisherman I've ever known, he's also one of the most genuinely nice guys. A cancer survivor, he hosts an annual Casting for Kids Rodeo which generates funds for cancer research and also introduces youngsters to the fun of fishing.
Information about Steve's guide service and Kids Rodeo is available on his Steve McCadams website.
He sent me an email the other say saying the fish are in a frenzy and I need to get over there soon. I told him to save me a seat.
There's nothing more splendid than Paris in springtime -- especially when Steve McCadams invites you over to go crappie fishing.