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Preston angler catches the big ones

By By Mike Giles / outdoors columnist
Nov. 15, 2002
Although most anglers have stowed away their fishing gear and taken out their hunting paraphernalia, Jim Vick is having a ball catching limits of crappie and an occasional striper. After 30 years with the United States Postal Service, Vick retired as the Preston, Mississippi Postmaster this past February. Since that time he has really been catching up on his fishing.
Late one afternoon this past week, I encountered Vick on Okatibbee Reservoir, just after he had tangled with a feisty striped bass. Talk about tough as old Leroy Brown, those stripers are some kind of bad! When they encounter a tasty morsel in the form of a crappie fisherman's minnow or shiner, they really get mean. Most of the time it isn't a pretty site.
However, most crappie fishermen aren't as prepared as Jim Vick. It's not uncommon to hear a crappie fisherman relate a story about a large fish that completely tore up their equipment. While Vick was catching plenty of crappie on this day, he had a ferocious bite that turned out to be a striped bass. Thanks to 16-pound line and years of experience with a crappie pole, Vick hung on long enough to take the fight out of the striper.
Now, it's pretty difficult landing a 5.5 pound striped bass with a rod and reel, but it's next to impossible to land one on a crappie pole. Vick used all of his skill and then some to keep the striper from breaking his rod or line. There's just so far a rod can bend or line can stretch. The big bruiser stretched Vick's line to the limit, as it literally turned and towed the boat. Now that's some kind of fight.
November crappie
Although Vick did get a big thrill out of catching the big striper, he had a pretty nice day with the crappie as well. With a limit of crappie in the live well, Vick was on his way home when we encountered each other. He related the striper story to me and showed off a few nice crappie as well.
Vick prefers fishing with standard fiberglass poles while tight lining for crappie in the deep-water structure areas this time of year. Minnows are his preferred bait. Although he does have a little company from time to time, he pretty much has his pick of fishing spots during the fall.
With more than 22 years of fishing experience on the lake, it's easy to see why he knows where to fish. Most of the time the fall crappie will be in or near deep-water channels and structure areas. Sometimes the fish will be right in the channel and sometimes they will be close on the edge of the break lines.
Vick has enjoyed his first year of retirement while really hitting stride on the reservoir. Out of 25 trips in a row to the reservoir, there's only been a time or two when he didn't get his limit, and those were on days when he only had a few hours to fish. "If I enjoyed it anymore, I think I would bust," commented Vick on his retirement and subsequent fishing excursions. Now that's what it's all about.