That’s right, Crappie Masters, not Duck Commanders.
The duo’s largest seven post-spawn crappie weighed 12.30 pounds to top a field of 60 teams from around the country to win the Crappie Masters Lake Fork Lures Invitational held in northeast Louisiana Saturday on Lake D’Arbonne, Lake Claiborne and Caney. It was the first Crappie Masters tournament ever held in Louisiana. Oh yes, and they won $4,000 for their title and $350 in sponsor bonus money.
While 95 percent of the fishermen hit D’Arbonne and caught tons of fish, Stone and Godwin made a late week decision to go to Caney because the post-spawn fish there were just a little bit bigger.
“I love D’Arbonne and if the tournament would have been two weeks ago, that’s where we would have fished,” he said. “But when they spawn out, they get poor. And it’s harder to find the big ones. There are not near as many fish in Caney, but there are some good ones. I built my first house on Caney so I know a lot about it. I figured if we were going to have a shot to win, that is where we would have to go.”
They caught their fish on Lake Fork and Big Bite jig heads with shad colored curly tails while long lining about 8-9 feet deep in 25 feet of water. They caught them on B’n’M Duck Commander Crappie Rods. All the fish they caught had spawned out, but were still good healthy fish. They were suspended over or near sunken brushtops.
Godwin was part of the Duck Commander entourage that went to Vegas earlier in the week to watch the new Duck Commander Musical. He flew back in Thursday afternoon and Jay had located the good fish on Caney. Jay was so confident he went and played golf on Friday. But Saturday, when they got to the lake, the fish had moved. It was getting “uh oh” time, but they moved into a little deeper water and found the fish again.
There wasn’t much pressure on Caney, either, and the duo had the fish to themselves until around noon, when a few other boats saw them catching and moved in to help them. But they already had their fish and headed in early. In fact, they were the first team to weigh in at the Fairgrounds in Ruston just off the Ruston-Farmerville highway. Several hundred fans turned out for the weigh-in despite scary skies.
“Our biggest fish was struggling and you have to weigh them in alive, so we headed for the weigh-in way early. That’s a good little drive. I was hoping I didn’t have to do CPR on that biggest crappie, but I would have if I had to,” Jay said.
The normally talkative Godwin was unusually quiet.
“I’m so nervous I don’t know what to do”, he said as he waited for the final dozen teams to weigh in hoping they wouldn’t bump them from atop the leaderboard. I had to ask, “You mean, a guy that is on one of the top rated TV shows in the country, has been on talk shows everywhere, makes speeches in front of thousand of people and travels everywhere in the country was nervous over a fishing tournament?”
“Oh, that stuff isn’t anything compared to this,” Godwin said. “I mean, these guys are pros. They do this every day. To beat them would be something really special.”
As it turned out, it was.
“I’m still trying to let this all sink in, Godwin said. ”I love crappie fishing and to win the first tournament we ever fished in, man, it’s surreal. Man, this is something.”
The rest of the top ten all fished D’Arbonne. They were Whitey Outlaw of South Carolina and Mike Parrott of North Carolina second with 11 pounds ($2,000); Josh Gowan and Josh Chipman of Missouri third with 10.75 pounds ($1,200); Steve White and David White of Arkansas fourth with 10.72 ($900) and Brian McGhee and Paul Alpers of Missouri fifth with 10.49 ($700).
Also, Alan Carter and Tony Sheppard of Kentucky sixth with 10.45; Freddie Cooly and Dwaine Barthol of Texas seventh with 10.43; Travis and Terry Brown of Alexandria and Cotton Valley eighth with 10.34; Jason and Jim Westerberg of Arkansas ninth with 10.31 and Jeff Riddle and David Maddux of Tennessee tenth with 10.25.
Jason Thomas and his wife, Kasey, of Monroe, took home top male/female honors with 9.93 pounds!
Local D’Arbonne fishermen Steve Danna and Dustan Ballance finished 13th and James and Chuck Morgan finished 14th in the event. James was also instrumental in getting Crappie Masters to the area.
We all need to work together to make sure it isn’t the last time they come here!
“This was a fantastic tournament and what a fantastic area,” Crappie Masters president Mike Vallentine of Missouri said. “Absolutely amazing people and fishing.”
We will have LOTS more about the tournament on lakedarbonnelife.com on Monday. Stay tuned!
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.