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Lake life

ACT hits the water!

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Matt Morgan, right, is giving the slabs a break to raise the bar on competitive crappie fishing for others.

As nearly 70 boats pull away from the dock Friday morning on Grenada Lake in Mississippi to kick off the 2017 American Crappie Trail, you’d think ACT Co-Founder and tournament director  Matt Morgan would be jumping for joy.

Oh, he’ll be happy to see the first day of the first ACT tournament finally get here after years of work putting the tour together. That’s a fact.

But, he also says, “I’ll be sick as a dog watching all those guys head out on the lake and knowing I’m not out there competing with them. Crappie fishing is my passion and I love the competition. My partner and I have won numerous tournaments and I am going to miss it so bad. But I can’t do them both. That wouldn’t work.”

So why isn’t this very successful competitive fishermen a two-time national crappie champion, fishing?  Here’s why:

He has stepped aside from the competition to form the American Crappie Trail and it just wouldn’t be right for him to fish competitively against the fishermen and fisherwomen who will be fishing events he is running. It’s one of many steps that Matt and Co-Founder Gary Dobyns are taking to push the ACT to the highest level possible. The goal of the ACT is to take competitive crappie fishing to a level that will be on par with the highly successful professional bass fishing circuits like BASS and FLW.

“To be honest, if we can change the landscape of crappie fishing and in 10 years I can look back and say I was a part of that, I’ll get more self-satisfaction than I would if I kept fishing,” Morgan says. “On one hand, it’s a horrible feeling to know I can’t compete in these events. But in the big picture, it is a great feeling knowing I can help crappie anglers achieve the level of success that I think they deserve.”

He has gotten more self-satisfaction from crappie fishing than most folks already. He and partner Kent Watson won the 2016 Crappie Masters National Championship on Grenada Lake, topping 187 qualified teams representing 21 different states. It was the second national title for the B’n’M Pro-Staff team and sent them home with checks totaling $33,000.00.

That’s pretty good, but Matt wants to make the opportunities even better.

And our local lake will be part of that. There are only have five regular tournaments and one national championship on the ACT circuit this year. Lake D’Arbonne in Farmerville is one of those stops hosting the second event on the 2017 circuit  Friday and Saturday, March 31-April 1 at D’Arbonne Pointe. Lake D’Arbonne was hand-picked for the trail by Morgan because it is a fantastic fishery and because the community is willing to get involved and promote it. One won’t work without the other, he said.

There is a 100 percent payback of entry fees to fishermen as prize money and there is a guaranteed first prize in every ACT tournament — a new Ranger fishing boat.

We will be having lots more on the tour and the D’Arbonne stop in the coming weeks. Even if you aren’t a crappie fisherman, it will be an event worth coming out and watching.  In the meantime, if you think you are up for taking on the big boys with a line and a pole, you can find more about fishing the event at:

http://www.americancrappietrail.com/

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