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Lake life

They’re here! Hide yo crappie!


Defending champs Terry Richard and Casey Rayner

It’s Crappie Masters Week on Lake D’Arbonne! 

(*** Warning to Lake D’Arbonne Crappie:   Hide yo kids, hide yo wife, and hide yo husband cuz they catchin ’em all up in here…)

The Crappie Masters 2017 Louisiana State Championship kicks off Thursday night with registration followed by two days of competition Friday & Saturday on Lake D’Arbonne.  Registration begins  Thursday at Willie Davis Recreation Center 116 Cox Ferry Rd, Farmerville,  at 5:00 PM with the rules meeting beginning at 6:30 PM.

Weigh in Friday and Saturday will be at D’Arbonne Pointe,  147 Old Hwy 15, on the lake. Anglers will fish from 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM and must be in line by 4:30 p.m. both days. The weigh in is open to the public. There will also be a kids fishing rodeo on Saturday at D’Arbonne Pointe for ages 15 and under. Registration is from 8-9 a.m. with fishing from 9-10:30.

This will undoubtedly be the biggest crappie tournament ever held on the ‘Bone. Crappie


It took Mike Vallentine about five minutes after he put his boat in the water to get this whopper Saturday.

Masters head Mike Vallentine says he is expecting close to 100 boats from as many as 12 states. That would push total prize money and awards close to $40,000. Most competitors will be fishing all week finding where they want to fish during the actual competition, so let’s give them a big welcome. There will be lots of us local fishermen out on the water, too, but we’ve got all year to fish here. Let’s make sure we treat our visitors with the respect they deserve! And use extra care out there during the event. It’s an important event for our area.

Special thanks to local sponsors Union Parish Tourist Commission, Farmerville Chamber of Commerce, Ruston Lincoln Parish CVB, D’Arbonne Pointe, Days Inn, Comfort Inn, Lake D’Arbonne State Park, Z 107.5, and Taterbugs.

* * * * * *

Here’s a rundown on some other important info:

The Union Parish Tourist Commission will be hosting news media and invited guests for lunch and a special celebrity fishing tournament to help with publicity for the tournament and to promote tourism in our area. Some of the celebrity fishermen will include LDWF Enforcement Agent Scott Bullit, Mountain Man Tim Guraedy and Nashville recording artist Katie Knight. Early Facebook money is about even on the three. Bullit will be making sure the other contestants have their fishing licenses and follow the rules. Mountain Man could be a force, but he fishes so slow …  hu oh, emmmm-hmmmm.  Katie could be tough unless she forgets her rod and reel or doesn’t remember to tell the catfish she’ll catch them all later  (If you don’t understand those, you need to get outdoors more). Let the smack talk begin.

And I’ve got it on good authority that a fourth celebrity contestant is expected to throw his shiners into the ring! He’s a former Crappie Masters tournament winner who could be trouble for the other three entrants. Here’s a hint. He could be made to lose his concentration over a couple of ham samiches…

* * * * *


It will take several two+ pounders like this one to win.


This is a heavyweight event. Entry fee for this tournament is $325 per team, but there are big bucks in the balance for the winners, plus important points leading up to the Crappie Masters National Championship. And while top pros from around the country will compete, look for several of our local teams to go head to head, or is that crappie to crappie, with them. In fact, local lake fishermen win about 60% of the CM tournaments.

The Crappie Masters management team of Mike and Suzette Valentine, Brian Sowers and Dillon Stocking rolled into Farmerville Saturday and are busy setting up the tournament and getting in a little fishing. If you see them on the lake, tell them hello and ask them what they are fishing with!

They also brought the CM checkbook. If there are 100 boats in the tournament, payout will go something like this:

The total payout for the event is based on the number of anglers, but with 100 boats, that would mean $35,000.00 payback in cash and prizes plus more in product related bonuses. First place would be around $7,000.00. Crappie Masters would pay back 20 places in cash plus top finishing Male/Female and Adult/Youth division prizes also.  And there’s more. There are a lot of special contingency bonuses, including: Missouri Corn Growers Association: $500.00 bonus on all two day tournaments or a $250.00 bonus on one dayscreen-shot-2017-01-06-at-11-47-40-am tournaments if the winning team is using E10 fuel in their boat;  Off Shore Tackle Company: $500.00 bonus on all tournaments if the winner is using Off Shore Planer Boards and $150.00 if big fish winner is using Off Shore Planer Boards to catch the big fish; Jenko Fishing: $100.00 bonus if using Jenko products to win any tournament. Jenko Rods or Jenko Baits or the new Jenko net. Also Timmy Tom’s Jig Co.: $50.00 bonus at every tournament if the winners are using Tommy Toms jig heads;  Zeko Shoes: Two pairs of Zeko shoes to the big fish of the tournament winners at each tournament; Host Hotel bonus: $100.00 to the team drawn at each tournament if staying in a host hotel. All teams that finish out of the money will be included in the drawing at the weigh in; and Ethanol bonus: $100.00 to the team drawn at each tournament if using E10 fuel in their boat. All teams that finished out of the money will be included in the drawing at the weigh in.

 * * * * *


Big crowds usually show up for the Friday and Saturday weigh-ins at D’Arbonne Pointe

Vallentine is expecting six of the Crappie Masters “Wrap Teams” to fish D’Arbonne. These are pro teams with national sponsors featured on fancy decal wraps on their fishing rigs. These teams include Renewable Fuels Association team Terry Richard and Casey Rayner both from West Monroe, Louisiana; Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council team Charlie and Kevin Rogers both from Missouri; Ozark Rods team David Cox and Steve Hockett both from Missouri;  Bobby Garland team Dan Dannenmueller – Alabama and Garrett Steele – Tennessee; Heartland Fish Fry / Prefish Gear team Josh Gowan and Josh Chipman both from Missouri (you’ll remember Josh lived on D’Arbonne for several years);  and Missouri Corn Growers Association team Kevin Jones and Billy Don Surface both from Missouri.

National Sponsors of the tour include: Renewable Fuels Association, American Ethanol, Bass Pro Shops, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, Missouri Corn Growers Association, Humminbird, Minn Kota, Bobby Garland Crappie Baits, B’n”M Poles, Prefish Gear, Power-Pole, Heartland Fish Fry, Ozark Rods, Skinzit, Mercury Motors, Millennium Marine, Off Shore Tackle, Jenko Fishing, Navionics, Spike-It, Tite Lok Rod Holders, Midsouth Tackle, Slider, Crappie Now, Crappieholic, American Angler, Timmy Tom’s Jig Company, Valley Fashions, Crazy Angler, Grizzly Jig Company, Everharts Outdoor Store, Marine Metal Products, Fish-D-Funk, Ardent, Rod Safe, Zeko Shoes, Crappie King Cakes, Lake Fork Trophy Lures, The Original Rod Sox, Crappie.com, Monster Crappie Media and Huffman Publishing, and KMMO Brad & Brian in the Outdoors.


Anglers shown heading to the 2016 weighin

And finally, a little pre-tournament fishing report. Frankly, fishing for crappie has been a little off on D’Arbonne the past week or so as far as numbers of big fish. Some of the best fishermen around have been struggling to get a limit of good fish. There are some 1.8 to 2.2 pound crappie being caught, but a limit of seven of those two days in a row may be tougher than last year. But these guys (and gals) are good, so don’t count them out. Somebody will get on them. It took seven fish weighing less than 11 pounds to win the local Louisiana Crappie Fishermen United tournament Saturday.

Shiner fishermen seem to be besting the jig fishermen going into tournament week. Most of the fish are still deep – 14-16 feet according to most reports and my personal observations. Warm weather the next four days should have some of the fish heading to the flats and then the shallows for spawning. Your guess is as good as mine where the fish will be, which is kind of like predicting the weather. Speaking of which, here’s a quick look at the extended forecast. We should have pretty weather, but a cold front Friday night could make things tougher to get bit.  PS – that squiggly little blue line at the bottom of the weather chart below???  That’s the spawning crappie’s best Spring friend, Mr. Wind, blowing up from the south the two days of the tournament, about 10-12 miles per hour Friday and a little calmer Saturday.


What, you still want more? 

       Okay, here’s when they will be biting the best…

Screen Shot 2017-02-18 at 9.58.53 AM.png

We will update information on the tournament and some of the fishermen every day this week. Stay tuned to your source for outdoor news in Lake D’Arbonne Country – lakedarbonnelife.com  ! And make sure you tell our sponsors THANK YOU for helping bring you this site. We cant do it without them!


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