W2 Profile: Josh Morris

by Chris McCotter

  Josh Morris, the 33-year-old founder of the Richmond Crappie Club and accompanying crappie tournament circuit. He works as quarry blaster so he can crappie fish as much as possible on water around the state. This certified freckle fanatic living in Charles City, Virginia is on the water just about every weekend fishing for crappie somewhere – often for money and he’s good. So good in fact, he and his partner, Ryan Smith won the January 28 Bobcat’s VA/NC Crappie Tournament on Buggs Island/Kerr Reservoir.

   We caught up with this hot angler for this month’s W2 Profile and asked him about how he got started.

   “I grew up on a farm in Burkeville, Virginia with a  acre pond behind the house. We fished the pond for bass, crappie, bluegill, and catfish from the spring through the end of summer. Most of the crappie we would catch were 8-9” and it was very rare to catch any over  lb. Once I started seeing pictures of citation crappie on Facebook I knew that I needed to start fishing bigger bodies of water.” 

  Morris told W2 he didn’t start fishing lakes until he was 27 when he would frequently rent a Jon boat from Ed Allen’s Boats & Baits on Chickahominy Lake.

   “My buddy Cody and I decided that the best way for us to learn was by entering some tournaments so that we could learn the techniques, patterns and locations for catching big crappie.”

   Morris entered his first crappie tournament in May of 2017 fishing out of a rental Jon boat from Ed Allen’s. 

  “We caught about 30 fish in the tournament… but not a single crappie. A month later, I bought a 16’ Jon boat with a 9.9 hp motor and equipped it with a 7” Garmin Striker with SideVu. We entered another tournament in September, and we managed to catch about 25 crappie, but the minimum size crappie for this tournament was 10 inches and we only had 2 fish over 10 inches. After that we were hooked and began chasing crappie year-round.” 

   Morris sold his first Jon boat and bought a 16’ Jon boat with a 25 hp motor. He also decided to upgrade is sonar.

  “I had watched enough videos by Josh Jones using Livescope that I decided to buy one in November 2018 knowing that this fish finder was going to cost more than my boat!”

   Then, Morris and his wife fished Ryan Smith’s Peanut City crappie trail in Suffolk in 2019 and after a successful season with of a lot of fun and finishing second in the points race, he decided to start the Richmond Crappie Club in February 2020. 

   “I started the Richmond Crappie Club because I enjoy fishing different bodies of water, learning new techniques and meeting other fishermen. I decided to start the club after fishing some tournaments with the Peanut City Crappie Club in Suffolk, and I felt like there was an opportunity in the Richmond area for crappie tournaments. Each team weighs in their best seven fish by weight. We have some people that have fished for several years and others that this is their first year crappie fishing. It’s a laid-back environment and a great place to learn. I’m hoping to grow the club each year.”

    In October of 2020 Morris and Smith decided to commit to fishing the Bobcat’s Crappie Trail on Bugg’s Island. They finished a very respectable third place in the points race their first year fishing out of the Jon boat. 

   After saving money, in September of 2021 Morris upgraded with a new (to him) boat – a 2004 Nitro with a 200 hp. In 2022 Morris and his wife finished 4th in the points race winning the Bobcat’s Classic in April and also qualified for the Crappie Masters National Championship on Grenada Lake, Mississippi. 

   After a humbling but learning experience in Mississippi Team Morris returned to Virginia and are currently sitting in 2nd place in the points race for the Bobcat’s Crappie Trail. 

  Morris notes a lot of his success has come from paying close attention to professional crappie fishermen. In the late winter he has learned to target suspended, roaming crappie. 

  “With the use of Livescope (and a lot of practice) we can selectively pick out the bigger fish and present our bait to these fish hoping to get a bite. It’s a challenging technique to learn, but YouTube has a lot of helpful information.”

  We also asked Morris what was his favorite fishery in Virginia to crappie fish and why?

  “I fish so many different places in Virginia that this is a tough question. I’d probably have to go with Bugg’s Island because that’s the lake where you have the best chance to catch a three-pound crappie.”

   Since he noted he had incorporated Livescope into his fishing we asked if he thought the days when old timers with regular sonar won tournaments were over? 

  “I certainly think that folks can still win tournaments with regular sonar, but forward-facing sonar gives anglers a huge advantage. A Crappie Masters national tournament was won last year in Florida without the use of forward-facing sonar, but the winning team was dipping cover along the riverbank and sonar wouldn’t have made any difference. Some of the tournaments last year at Bugg’s Island were also won without forward-facing sonar.” 

    What live set up does Morris use on his boat and what does he recommend for a good starting live sonar set up?

   “I have the Garmin 93sv with the original LVS32 transducer. I think this is a great starting setup because it’s the best bang for your buck. I have my 93sv on a mount that extends up from the floor of the boat so that I don’t have to bend over to see the screen or adjust the settings.”

  And finally, the question you’ve all been hoping we’d ask: If you only had one lure to use in a crappie tournament all year, what would it be and why?

  “My second choice is a Bobby Garland baby shad in monkey milk color with a 1/32 oz Strike King Mr. Crappie plain lead head jig head. My first choice is a blue and white hair jig from NicTaylor’s jigs. I think hair jigs outperform plastics when the water is cold.”

  So what does the admitted crappieholic like to do in his spare time?

  “I spend a lot of my spare time fishing. If I’m not fishing, I’m usually spending time with my wife traveling or going out to eat.”

Related Posts

Woods & Waters Magazine is Virginia’s source for hunting and fishing information featuring award-winning articles and photographs by top regional experts intended to inspire you to get out and enjoy life outdoors! Pick up a copy today at over 100 retailers or subscribe here.

Featured Articles

Latest Articles

©2022 Woods & Waters Magazine, LC. All Rights Reserved.