Most people unwrap presents at Christmas. West Monroe crappie fishermen and D’Arbonne Lake regulars Terry Richard and Casey Rayner got to wrap one. It was their fishing boat!
The defending Louisiana State Crappie Champions are the newest sponsored “wrap team” on the Crappie Masters national crappie tour. They got to wrap their boat in a new bright red Renewable Fuels Association/American Ethanol decal wrap. And it did more than just make their boat look good. Their 2017 sponsorship package also includes all kinds of goodies, like paid expenses, entry fees to tournaments and lots more. They found out the news last week after an application and interview process that started months ago.
“We were like kids in the candy store,” said Terry as we spent a little time on lake D’Arbonne last week. “It’s a dream come true. What kid doesn’t grow up fishing and dreaming of taking it to the next level and fishing professionally?”
The two modest anglers who operate R & R Heating/Cooling in West Monroe still have a hard time getting used to the tag “professional” fishermen, but do admit they love “running with the big dogs”, competing to catch fish and win money doing it. They better get used to that “pro” tag. They’ve come a long way in less than two years on the tournament trail. And I bet they’ve got lots of great days in front of them.
“I think what helped us get this is that our love for this sport showed in the interviews,” Richard said. “We do love it. And we fish hard. Our goal is to compete and do the best we can. We want to make our sponsors proud and our families proud along the way. It’s about a lot more than just catching fish. It’s about promoting the sport. We are also the only wrap team from the deep south, so geography helped us.”
The challenge ahead isn’t going to be easy for the two 36-year-olds, but it will be lots of fun.
“Don’t make any mistake about it,” Casey said. “It will be a lot of work and we will have to cover a lot of miles pulling a boat. We have to go rain or shine. Like last year, we were fishing on Lake Washington in the Nationals through the same front that flooded Lake D’Arbonne. But everyone dreams of doing what you do for fun and getting paid for it. It took a minute for this to sink in, but we are really excited.”
The serious work part begins in just a couple of weeks when the duo hits the road for the first tournament of the year on the St. John’s River in Deland, FL Jan. 27-28. That is followed by another trip to Lake Talquin in Gadsden, FL before a “home game” back at D’Arbonne to defend their Louisiana State Championship on Lake D’Arbonne Feb. 24-25. Other tournaments they’ll be eligible for are in South Carolina, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama and Florida. Besides their new sponsors, they duo are also sponsored by Honey Hole, are full-pro staff members of Jenko Rods, Driftmaster, Power Pole and http://teamrickyjigs.com/ out of Dallas, Texas.
We’ll be having lots more information from the duo and will follow their results on the pro trail right here on lakedarbonnelife.com during the year. We’ll also share tips from them along the way, starting today.
What’s the most important thing they have to do this year to compete?
“Trust our electronics,” Terry said. “We have to fish a lot of lakes that are not familiar to us. Finding baitfish and crappie on the electronics is the key. Just like today on D’Arbonne, it was 40 degrees and 90 percent of the fishermen are catching fish 16-18 feet deep. We were watching the baitfish and they came up shallow in the water column. The next thing you know, the wind was blowing them up into 3-5 feet of water. We didn’t really believe we’d catch fish there, but we followed the baitfish and caught crappie. Good crappie. Who would have believed it? Without watching the electronics and trusting what we saw and what w know, we would have never got that bite. And fish hard. Never give up.”
Richard and Rayner aren’t the only ones excited to have the chance to be one of the wrap teams on the Crappie Masters tour. So is CM President Mike Vallentine of Missouri.
“We currently have 7 Shrink Wrap sponsor teams,”Vallentine said this week. “Terry and Casey are the Renewable Fuels Association team. This means Terry and Casey’s exposure will be pretty high.They will be fishing a great number of tournaments and receive lots of exposure as representatives of the RFA. Terry and Casey were one of several great teams considered for this opportunity and we were excited to hear of them being chosen to represent the Renewable Fuels Association. They are very knowledgeable and fully understand the importance of burning E10 fuel in their boat motor to help leave a cleaner environment and support America’s Corn Farmers.”