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Lake life

Turners lead Crappie Masters

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The Turners take the lead

For a while this week, if you listened to any of the 96 teams in the Crappie Masters Louisiana State Championship on Lake D’Arbonne, you would have thought the fishing was going to be so tough Friday that even the liars wouldn’t catch anything. Then a 15 mile per hour wind hammered the lake most of the day, making things even tougher. Surely nobody would catch many fish.

Wrong.

At day’s end, the 192 fisherpeople had weighed in 775 pounds of crappie. Most were returned alive to the lake, but those in distress were donated to the Louisiana Chapter of Hunters for Heroes.

Fisherpeople?  Yes. Like Paul and Elizabeth Turner from Tennessee. The husband and wife team caught seven fish weighing 13.24 ounces, just slightly off last year’s record pace in the Crappie Masters Louisiana State Championship. The Turners were runners-up in last year’s National Championship. They are also no strangers to D’Arbonne. They were the top finishing Male/Female team here last year with a total weight of 26.07 pounds

This is still a fish race. Close behind Friday were Dustin Harris and Kelley Graham of Arkansas with 13.07 and  Kevin Jones and Billy Don Surface of Missouri with 12.41. With the top 29 teams all having more than 10 pounds, there are still lots of anglers sitting in position to take over the top spots.

But wait, here comes another curveball. Check out this weather forecast.

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That’s right. It was 81 degrees at Friday’s weigh-in. At the beginning of Saturday’s fishing, it will be 40 degrees. Welcome to Louisiana. Surely nobody will catch many fish. Ha. Where did I hear that before? It may be cold where we are standing, but it’s pretty much going to be the same temperature where the fish are Saturday as it was Friday. So don’t show them this chart, okay?

“It was a good day,” Mike Vallentine said. “They caught a lot of fish.”

That may be the most information that anybody gave out after Friday’s weighin. Competition for upwards of $40,000 in cash and prizes tends to give fishermen lockjaw.

Many of the local guys struggled Friday. Defending champions Terry Richard and Casey Rayner were in 78th place after Day One.

Lance Bilberrry and Heath Rogers led the local contingent in sixth place with 12.29 on opening day. Former Farmerville resident Josh Gowan and partner Josh Chipman were 13th with 11.76; Jason Thomas and Scotty Johnson were 16th with 11.30; Terry Morris and Steve Danna were 21st with 10.90; Sam and Craig Robertson were 22nd with 10.72; Thomas Terral and Michael Johnson were 26th  with 10.32; Travis and Terry Brown were 28th with 10.22 and Nick and Jock Young were 30th with 9.86.

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Shannon Porter and Kelly Billsborough of West Monroe have the lead in the Big Fish division with the 2.29 pounder shown above.

Final weigh-in will begin around 3 p.m. Saturday with anglers having to be in the weigh-in line at D’Arbonne Point by 4:30. A free kid’s fishing rodeo at D’Arbonne Point begins with registration at 8 a.m. with fishing from 9-10 a.m.

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