Biggest Annual Crappie Show Kicks Off This Week
By Josh Gowan
Fishing and boat shows all across the country draw thousands of eager outdoorsmen through their doors in the early months of the year. While many shows offer an exciting experience to anglers, in the world of crappie fishing, there is only one show that makes bucket list status, and it’s not held exactly where you’d expect it to be.
During the last weekend in January, nestled down in the southeast corner of the Missouri “bootheel,” the small town of Caruthersville becomes the hub for the largest gathering of panfish enthusiasts and professionals in the country. This year, which marks its sixteenth, will be no different, as the Grizzly Jig Show gears up for another huge showing.
“We were traveling to a lot of shows all over the country and just not really making that much money,” said Louie Mansfield, who owns Grizzly Jig with his son Wade, “so we thought about just doing something here. I talked to Wally Marshall about it, and he said he’d come up to the show, and I called Jack Wells at B’n’M and he sent over Ronnie [Capps] and Steve [Coleman], and Tim Huffman came and pushed his books, and that’s kind of how it started. We had our mailing list for people that had signed up for our catalog over the years, so we sent out invitations to anyone in a 250 mile radius, which we still do.”
Over the years, the show has grown exponentially, and companies in the crappie industry took notice, now sending pro staffers and free products to be given away at the event. “The show starts Thursday, January 24th at 7:00 AM, and the seminars begin at 2:00 PM and run throughout the weekend, with a seminar every hour from the best professional anglers in the country, and there is a free giveaway at every seminar,” said Mansfield. “The Humminbird guys will also be here giving seminars at the Lady Luck Casino, and there’s a shuttle running people back and forth.” All of the Grizzly Jig Show seminars are free of charge.
This year’s door prize giveaways include an 80 lb Minn Kota Maxxum or a Humminbird Helix 9, a gas griddle from RV Works (retails for $500), multiple guided fishing trips, including the “Fishing Trip of a Lifetime” with Wally Marshall, and much more.
Aside from the potential for free prizes and the largest collection of pro anglers giving constant free seminars, this is also the best (read: cheapest) time and place to stock up on fishing equipment. Grizzly Jig is the largest crappie store in the country and maintains the best prices on almost all crappie products year-round, but, during the show, they feature even larger mark-downs, especially on overstocked items. Beyond these massive discounts, the show also features its popular Grizzly Bucks, in which every day of the show, each person gets a discount of $5 for every $30 they spend, up to $20 (so if you’re looking to spend $250, we recommend splitting it up over two days to maximize your Bucks).
And, as if all of that wasn’t enough, Thursday afternoon is “Fishermen’s Night Out,” where you can eat and drink with Whitey Outlaw, Tim Blackley, Ronnie Capps, and Sam Heaton; Friday morning is “Breakfast with Wally Marshall,” which includes a full breakfast spread hosted by Mr. Crappie himself; and every morning there is free coffee and donuts for the early risers.
The Grizzly Jig Show has so much to offer, it can almost be overwhelming to figure out how to best navigate the show for the first time. Because of that, we’d like to provide a few tips for how to get the most out of this year’s show:
- The pros are there for you, and if you see someone that you’d like to meet or ask a question, just go up to them – don’t be shy!
- Split your purchases up between two days or two people (bringing a spouse is a good idea) to get the maximum discount with Grizzly Bucks.
- If you’re looking for a generic product and don’t have a brand in mind, regardless of if it’s rods, reels, line, boat seats (especially boat seats), or any other product, ask an employee what’s on sale. Many products are marked way down, but with all of the people and other products, you may not always see the best deals yourself.
- Bring a pen and pad to the seminars. If you have a Humminbird unit, go to the Humminbird seminar, and take your own unit with you. You can usually get it updated on the spot for free.
- If you’re looking to book rooms, but they’re all full (which happens), Reelfoot Lake is only 25 minutes away. Click here to check out the Reelfoot issue of Destination Crappie, which includes listings for all of the lodging available on the lake.
- The Show Closing Presentation at the end of the day on Sunday has a ton of giveaways – stick around if you can.
If you like crappie fishing, you don’t want to miss the Grizzly Jig Company’s Spring Tackle Show! See below for the full show schedule.
**P.S. -- From Josh -- If you’re going to be in Caruthersville for a few days, you’ll have to eat, so here are some suggestions: Pepper steak at the Roundhouse, The Undertaker at Little Pizza Heaven, and a pizza burger at Daylight Donuts; if you travel over to Reelfoot there’s fried catfish at Boyette’s, fried catfish at Lakeview, and everything on the menu at Bluebank. If you’re looking for an adult beverage, there’s the dive-est dive bar in the Midwest, Woody’s Lounge (proceed with caution) just down the street and an incredible bar/club/karaoke joint on Reelfoot called Stump Jumpers (DC staff may be present Saturday night!)**