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Lake life

It started with gum balls


Gum ball machines and crappie fishing tournaments. How in the world could those two be connected?

This week as the first ever Louisiana State Crappie Championship gets ready to kick off on Lake D’Arbonne, we figured you’d like an inside look at the organization that puts these events on.

We’ll let Missouri fisherman and president of Crappie Masters Mike Vallentine explain:

“Crappie Masters was founded and started by Joe Miller,” Vallentine said. “Joe contacted Paul Alpers about his idea of starting Crappie Masters and these two got it started. His idea was put on a crappie tournament and have a guaranteed payback of $10,000.00 no matter how many showed up. The funding to get this started was secured by putting out 250 gum Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 8.50.03 PMball machines. The revenues from them were used for expenses.

The first ever Crappie Masters event was held on Truman Lake in Missouri where over 100 boats showed up to fish for over $10,000.00 in cash. So the story goes that Crappie Masters was started .25 cents at a time.”

Today, sponsors from the crappie fishing industry make sure the events pay good prizes and are put on in a first-class manner!

That’s no fish story. And here’s something that isn’t, either. Even though some of the best crappie fishermen in the nation will be competing, there’s a 60% or better chance that a local fishermen will win the first prize. Vallentine said that’s about how many of their events are won by locals.

Here’s how Crappie Masters was drawn to our area: “Our attraction was from following all the press the area was receiving for the size of the crappie being caught,” Mike said. “Tournament anglers tend to want to fish lakes that produce larger crappie so I thought this would be a good fit.”

That’s why the Union Parish Tourist Commission, the Union Chamber and the Lincoln Parish Tourist Bureau all helped ante up money to get the event here. It’s a great investment. Estimates are that the tournament will end up having a three quarter of a million dollar economic impact on this area. Shut the livewell up!

“It is a lot of fun getting to meet all the fine people you meet across the country at the tournaments,” he said. “It is different everywhere you go when it comes to the food, fishing, and local amenities but the one thing that never changes is the people. They are so receptive and willing to help and in return, it makes putting these events on a lot simpler.”

Welcome Crappie Masters from near and far. We’re glad to have you here!





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