Feeling the adrenaline rush of a three pound crappie when it strikes your jig is something that few have had the chance to experience. Crappie Forever was created in early spring of 2021 and officially launched in July 2021, with trophy fish management in mind.
I reached out to one of the founders of Crappie Forever, Gabe Sewell, who said, “Our first goal was trophy fish management, but that quickly changed to include doing anything we could to support the sport of crappie fishing.” Sewell said, “Our main goals are habitat work, our tag study program, charity work, and anything we can do to support kid’s events.” The mission statement of Crappie Forever is “Our goal is to promote conservation and trophy management practices for the sport of crappie fishing.” Sewell explained, “We want to expand from that into things like habitat projects where it’s needed, research, kids’ events, etc.
To help fund habitat projects, kid’s events, and their tagging program, Crappie Forever decided to sell crappie fishing apparel. Sewell said, “The hats and hoodies are our best sellers. We’ve probably sold more of the light grey leather patch hat than anything else. There isn’t a lot of crappie apparel out there and we think we have some of the best-looking stuff around.” Sewell also mentioned, “Our hats are our best-selling items, but back orders on products continue to be an issue for us. So, we are constantly looking at different hats to make, different colors, styles of patches, etc. We want to keep fresh new items on the website as well as have plenty of stock available.”
I asked Sewell what the future had in store for Crappie Forever. “Our hope is to continue to get our name and mission out there and continue to raise enough money to fund all the projects we want to head up or be involved with. We would love to hear from folks with ideas they may have or ways we can possibly get involved with events in their communities,” Sewell explained. Next I inquired about the tagging program and what all it consisted of. Sewell said, “We started the reward trophy tagging program because we wanted to try and prove that if people will start to treat crappie fishing more like bass fishing we will start to see more and more trophy sized crappie being caught. You rarely, if ever, see a guy filleting a six to eight inch bass to eat. If they want to eat bass, they keep the smaller ones and release the big ones to keep getting bigger. A lot of folks say that once a fish has reached the two to two and half pound mark they are no longer reproductive and they are at the end of their life. We think that if given the chance, these bigger fish have the ability to hit that three to four pound mark. Particularly in Mississippi lakes and other southern areas. Most importantly, we want as many people as possible to get the opportunity to catch a giant crappie.” I asked if anyone could sign-up for the tagging program and Sewell said, “We aren’t signing anyone up to help with the actual tagging. We are working with three guides in Mississippi, Patrick Stone, Hayden Jeffries, and Brad Chappell. They know the criteria we are working under and they are guys we trust to do it properly. The supplies, tags, guns, and extra needles are expensive, so we can’t provide enough for everyone that wants to help. The best way anyone can help is to just follow the rules of the program. If they catch one of our tagged fish, please report the length and weight, then submit their video of the fish being released. If you do that, you will receive a reward of some free crappie forever merchandise (a shirt, hat, or other merchandise) or even a cash reward, depending on the size of the fish.”
With apparel sales being the primary way that Crappie Forever is funded, I asked Sewell the best way to purchase products. Sewell replied, “The best way to get our products right now is through our website. www.crappieforever.com. Sewell also stated that, “We’re only in a couple of small bait shops right now, but we would love to get into as many places as we can. The goal is to make it easy for customers to buy our merchandise, but more importantly the more money we can make through sales, the more money we can put toward habitat projects, other tagging programs, kid’s educational programs, or charitable benefits. If any stores are interested, we would love to hear from them.” He further mentioned that “All of the money we make from our merchandise sales goes back into the industry. We know that crappie conservation means a lot of different things. It differs regionally and even lake to lake. Some lakes are overpopulated and need lots of fish taken out. Some smaller lakes that have been hit hard since forward facing sonar came out might need some time to recover and replenish. Other lakes need more structure for spawning habitat and cover. The important thing to take away is that it’s up to us as anglers to be stewards of our resources. We want to ensure the sport is strong and healthy for future generations to enjoy!”
To support Crappie Forever, be sure give their Facebook page a follow, www.facebook.com/CrappieForever and checkout all the apparel they have to offer on their website at www.crappieforever.com. If anyone has any further questions or would like to donate to Crappie Forever, you can contact, Daniel White or Gabe Sewell for more information. Thank you for taking time to read this article and remember crappie fishing tomorrow starts with you and conservation today.
Gabe Sewell 501-690-3568
Daniel White 601-624-4955.