Last month we introduced to you the Crappie Psychic and now we’re happy to shine some light on Russ Bailey, an angler who has a rod named after him...titled the “Crappie Wizard.” Let’s just say we know quite a few folks who have a somewhat supernatural ability to catch crappie.
Bailey is better known for his broadcast skills than his magic tricks. He’s been the host of NKT.tv’s BrushPile Fishing since 2014 (we like the show so much, we're proud to be one of the sponsors!) and hosted Midwest Crappie for seven years before that. What makes for a good fishing host? The star of the show won’t hazard a guess why he was approached to helm Midwest, but reviews for his current program describe him as “fun” and “personable.”
That said, it takes a heck of a lot more than personality to hold down a broadcast on crappie. When it comes to searching for his signature fish, Bailey has a resumé that merits his current role. He first got a taste for crappie (both metaphorically and literally; the Facebook page for BrushPile posts “Tasty Tuesday” tips for cooking your catch) when he moved to St. Marys, Ohio, and soon joined in some local tournaments. He jumped into some professional tournaments further down the line, eventually winning 14 and qualifying for 11 National Championships.
The Best Learning From The Best
You might call him an expert when it comes to crappie. Still, Bailey realizes he always has more to learn, especially for a species that is now stocked all across the country. He admits that he would get bored watching himself fish Ohio lakes all season long, so he emphasizes the variety of locations and guests that BrushPile employs.
“Instead of doing the same thing week after week, ‘there’s a fish, there’s a fish,’ we try to get as much information as possible on how we’re catching the fish, why they’re in the water this time of year,” he explains. “When we book a guest, we know that they have a special way that they fish for crappie, so we let them explain their way. Even if it doesn’t work 100 percent for the way you fish, maybe you can take a bit of that and adapt it to your style.”
For example, Bailey visited Lake Marion, SC with fellow pro Whitey Outlaw. Among the strategies the host had to learn was how to deal with thick patches of hyacinth growing on the lake...something most Ohioans don’t need to negotiate.
He’s brought the show all over the country, but he doesn’t have a “bucket list” selection for where he’d like to shoot. After all, he’s been to Grenada Lake, MS—a popular choice for the crappie capital of the world—so where else would he go? He’s got love for his home state, however, praising Lake Erie for its wonderful smallmouth bass fishing opportunities.
His Knot History
He might change the setting of his show quite often but one thing he rarely alternates between is his choice of knot. Bailey learned how to fish from his father when he was a boy, and the palomar was his first formal knot. He still prefers it to this day, at least when using a bobber or a cork. If not, he usually opts for a loop knot.
We say first “formal” knot because Bailey’s first experience with a fishing line was less than academic.
He emphasized one key point for those who may be entering the angling hobby now, different from his youth: Practice. And don’t just start when you show up at the pond for the first time. He advised new fishing enthusiasts take a few minutes at home and working on the basics. He acknowledged that modern anglers had a huge advantage in the form of YouTube and the internet, where a multitude of videos exist, with the ability to pause and rewind whenever you need help.
“It’s one thing for me to sit and tell you how to do it,” he said. “But to go online and see it? You take 10 to 15 minutes of doing that, you’ll be fine.”
We're not kidding when we say we admire Bailey: We were excited to feature him in one of our commercials! Check it out below: