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Like many anglers, Sean Thornton’s fishing journey began at a young age. Growing up fishing with his dad, Sean recalls catching his first bass while fishing on his grandfather’s property.
As the cliche goes, he was hooked on fishing at age six.
Since then, the 18-year-old has been a passionate hunter and angler, typically fishing small ponds and focusing primarily on catching bass in his native Arkansas.
“There’s nothing like that top water bite,” he said.
Over the past year, however, Sean has delved deeper into crappie fishing.
While his personal best bass sits at an impressive 7 pounds, 4 ounces, it may be the massive crappie he recently caught while fishing Lake Pauline near Benton, Arkansas that will shape his fishing career moving forward.
Catching a Crappie Over 4 Pounds
While fishing on Saturday, March 21st, Sean was using a Bobby Garland Baby Shad Swim’R, a Lew’s rod and an Abu Garcia reel. He pulled in a respectable four crappie on the day by fishing the bottom.
One of those four crappie just happened to be enormous.
Before reeling in the mammoth slab, Sean felt a jerk on his line. After a short fight, the giant crappie breached the surface and just floated to the bank.
At this point, Sean had been fishing solo. His girlfriend and her brother arrived shortly afterwards. After putting the fish on ice, Sean got an official weight once he returned home: his massive black crappie weighed in at 4 pounds, 1 ounce.
Prior to catching this super slab, Sean estimates his largest crappie being around 2 pounds. The thrill of catching a possible once-in-a-lifetime crappie has not slowed the angler’s time on the water, however.
In fact, it has only served to solidify his love of crappie fishing.
So, What Comes Next?
For lifetime crappie anglers, catching a slab over four pounds would be a career-defining moment. For Sean Thornton, however, he sees parallels between the monster he just caught and that first bass he landed well over a decade ago.
“I kind of see this as a new stage of fishing for me,” Sean said. “This is really that starting point for a new hobby.”
While his love of bass fishing still holds strong, the desire to catch more crappie is quickly becoming Sean’s focus.
“A couple days after I caught the big one, I went back to that same spot with a couple guys. We caught our limit two days in a row.”
Moving forward, Sean could see himself eventually getting involved on the crappie fishing tournament circuit.
In the meantime, however, Sean is keen to encourage people to get outside and appreciate nature during what has been an odd time for people around the world. While many individuals haven taken the term “social distancing” to mean complete isolation inside their homes, the young angler believes there is a genuine benefit to using this time to connect (or reconnect, for some) with the outdoors.
“If you’re reading this,” Sean said, “I encourage you to get outside as much as you can. It’s the best thing you can do right now.”