Sports
Lake Lavon crappie trip with the pros
By Luke Clayton
Apr 26, 2022
Print this page
Email this article

I began writing about retired Lake Lavon crappie guide Billy Kilpatrick a quarter century ago when he first began his almost quarter-century guiding career on Lake Lavon. I first fished with guide Brandon Sargent this past fall at Lake Ray Hubbard. This week, I was honored to join both guides on Lake Lavon for some springtime shallow water crappie fishing. Our goal was for me to get some footage for A Sportsman’s Life TV show for Carbon TV and for the two guides to ‘talk shop’.  This was the first time for the guides to meet and they, as I expected, became fast friends.

Retired Lake Lavon crappie guide Billy Kilpatrick (left) and guide Brandon Sargent with Lead Slingers Guide Service show off some nice crappie landed last week. (photo by Luke Clayton)

Through my 36 years as an outdoors writer, I have had the pleasure of exposing many ‘new’ guides to my readers and Billy Kilpatrick was one of them. Billy is my nephew and on a family fishing trip to a private lake back in the eighties, I was attempting to catch enough crappie for our evening meal. I fished hard for several hours but only had a few papermouths in the fish basket. Billy showed up and, knowing the lake was full of crappie, asked me if I had enough fish for dinner. When I held up the basket, he jokingly said, “Well, that’s enough for me!”

Even before his guiding days, Billy was an avid crappie catcher and I invited him into my 14-foot Jon boat and asked him to ‘guide’ me. He inquired how I was fishing and I replied, “Minnows about 3 feet under a floater”. He cast his minnow a few yards behind the boat and instructed me to do the same. Then with the trolling motor on low speed, he eased the boat along over a submerged grass bed. We instantly began catching crappie.  The crappie obviously wanted the baits moving and when the minnows were pulled out of their strike zone, they nailed the baits with conviction. We soon had more than enough crappie fillets to feed the entire family!

At the time, my nephew was between jobs and I asked him if he ever thought of being a crappie guide. I knew he has the personality and fish catching ability to be a great one. The next quarter century is, as they say, history!  He enjoyed a long and successful career putting clients on his favorite fish.

When I first fished with Brandon Sargent, his passion for fishing and catching ability was obvious to me.  Brandon spent most of his life fishing saltwater in Florida and he, like Billy has that uncanny ability I’ve seen in many guides to “think like a fish.” His roomy 24-foot aluminum boat was rigged to fish fresh or salt water with state-of-the-art sonar.  On our first outing together he asked me what I wanted to catch, crappie or white bass and hybrids.  I replied that it really didn’t matter but that I do have a weakness for the nonstop action that schooling white bass provide.

After launching at Chandlers Landing Marina, we proceeded across the lake and Brandon eased the power back and buried his face in the sonar. One of the levees appeared on the graph. The wind was strong out of the south.

“They should be stacked up on the north side of this bottom structure, ambushing shad as they come over the top of the hump,” says Brandon as we ease along over the long submerged levee. 

Soon a big school of white bass in and inverted “V” pattern plotted near the top of the ridge. Spot lock was engaged on the trolling motor to keep us over the hotspot. We proceeded to use Brandon’s homemade chartreuse lead spoons to boat a couple limits of chunky good eating white bass.

As we headed back to the marina, he asked if I might want to boat some crappie to go with the white bass fillets for an upcoming fish fry.

“The bite will be steady and we will begin catching fish as soon as the jigs hit the water,” he promised.

I was all in and he was absolutely correct in his prediction. We again used the spot lock feature of the trolling motor to keep the boat positioned directly over a sunken tree in water 23-feet deep.  Brandon’s Live Scope showed a big school of crappie handing around the heavy cover.  We soon had his Si-Flies jigs down in the thick mass of limbs and were pulling chunky crappie out of the structure. 

Brandon had ascertained this old outdoor scribe enjoys frying fish almost as much as he loves catching them.  We remained over his crappie hole for about forty-five minutes and added a limit of good-eating crappie to the cooler full of white bass we had on ice. 

I must say that fishing with a guide I had first written about decades ago and another that I met last year made me feel a bit experienced (old)! We fished waters at Lavon that I remember fishing as a young man over fifty years ago.  One of the highlights of my career as an outdoors writer has been helping ‘new’ guides get started in their career by exposing their fish catching ability to my readers in newspapers and magazines.

Contact Guide Brandon Sargent at 469 989 1010 or on Facebook, Lead Slingers Fishing.  Watch A Sportsmans Life this week on Carbon TV (www.carbontv.com) for a video of this fishing trip.