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Lake life

They’re coming: Crappie Masters


Defending champs Casey Rayner & Terry Richard of West Monroe

Wow. It’s just four weeks until the third annual Louisiana State Championship Crappie Masters tournament on Lake D’Arbonne in Farmerville. Crappie Masters held their first 2017 tour tournament in Florida this past weekend and have one more stop before coming here.

But you can bet the excitement of the pro fishermen from all around the country on D’Arbonne in a few weeks will be hard to top this spring on the ‘Bone. One team to watch will be West Monroe’s Casey Rayner and Terry Richard, the defending champs. They are also fishing the entire tour this year as one of the featured “Wrap” teams representing the Renewable Fuels Association/American Ethanol.

The D’Arbonne event will be held February 24 & 25, 2017.

The entry fee for the two-day event is $325, but split two ways per two-man team, it is only $162.50 each, or actually only $81.25 per day each! Heck, you can’t even buy a good 12-foot graphite crappie pole and reel for that. (Yes, this is common core math logic the way only a crappie fisherman could do it!) Even if you don’t plan on fishing the event, you should come check out the action at the weigh-ins!

‘I’m definitely ready to come back to D’Arbonne,” said Crappie Masters President Mike Vallentine. “We love the area because of the small hometown feeling you get when you’re around the lake. Good people, good food, good fishing. Can’t beat it.”
Mike said the fishermen’s favorite thing here is that “D’Arbonne is full of crappie. This lake is so attractive to fishermen because it’s the perfect combination of size and numbers. The biggest of the big fish lakes normally produce smaller numbers. The smaller fish lakes normally produce numbers. D’Arbonne produces quality and numbers. You don’t get that everywhere.”
Mike says he thinks it should take around 13.5 to 14 pounds per day just like last year. His best guess is that fish will get caught the same as last year because the fishermen will be back at the same time of year. The only difference is the water temp might be higher this year which could put the  big fish on the flats.  You will see teams adjust from last year and try some of the winning tactics, long lining will be popular. He doesn’t  have any predictions on who might win, but he does expect a much higher turnout than last year.

This tournament is a big deal to our whole region. The folks on the Union Parish Tourist Commission, Union Chamber, Lincoln Tourist Commission and others realize that and they put up the money to bring the event here. It not only brings people in from all over the country for pre-fishing and the tournament itself,  the PR value for the lake and area is bigger than a four-pound crappie. And don’t forget, it will be just a few more weeks until the second pro tournament of the season hits — the new American Crappie Trail event on D’Arbonne  March 31-April 1.

Crappie Masters will have all kinds of special events, including kids fishing activities.  This link will take you to everything you need to know about the tournament, except where to catch the winning stringer!


More important information:

Since Crappie Masters tournament payouts are based on the number of entries in the tournament, it’s impossible to know just how much money is on the table for the winners. But, here’s a good estimate. Based upon 70 teams entering the Louisiana State Championship on D’Arbonne Feb. 26 & 27, there would be around $25,000.00 in cash and prizes paid  through 14 places. Here’s the way that payout would go for the top five teams:
1st    $5,000.00     screen-shot-2017-01-06-at-11-47-40-am
2nd  $2,500.00
3rd   $1,800.00
4th   $1,400.00
5th   $1,100.00

Big fish of the tournament would pay $1,000.00

More teams means more money for the winners. Considering angler teams can weigh in a 7-fish limit each day, that would mean the winning catch would tally up to a value of about $358 a fish – or more!. Not bad. GET THE NET!

For more on Crappie Masters tournaments, including on-line registration, go to:




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