The American Crappie Trail kicked off this past weekend with its initial tournament on Grenada Lake in Mississippi. Next up: Act 2, starring the crappie of Lake D’Arbonne in Farmerville. The tournament will be held March 31-April 1 out of D’Arbonne Pointe.
If you are thinking about fishing the tournament, it’s important you watch the Facebook video on American Crappie Trail’s page and be familiar with all the rules. Here is the address:
It’s pricey to be able to throw your bait into the hat. First of all, you have to be a member ($40 annually or $75 for a family). Entry fee for team tournaments is $425. Here’s why: The winner of each ACT tournament is guaranteed a new Ranger Boat. We’ve also included a sample payout chart below, based on 100 boats entering a tournament. The good news for fishermen is that crappie and fishing industry sponsors have stepped up to pay for the tournament expenses, so 100% of the money generated by entry fees goes back into the payout to the fishermen in every tournament. Almost $55,000 in cash and prizes were paid out at the first event.
Can competitive crappie fishing hit the “big time” like competitive bass fishing?
Tournament Co-Founder Matt Morgan thinks so. Nearly 70 boats fished in the first event. I expect more for our tournament. Fishing will be a bit tougher than it is right now as for as size goes, because for the most part, the spawn will be over. But the fishing should be great as the fish begin to eat and replenish themselves post-spawn. It should be a tight race when it comes to the scales.
“For years, I waited for a format that helped push crappie fishing to the level of say BASS or FLW in bass fishing, but it didn’t come, so I have dedicated myself to try and make that happen,” he said. “I have gone on the road to tournaments and even won them, but found it took almost as much as I won to pay my expenses. I want more for real professional crappie fishermen.”
To do that, Morgan also feels that he has to even the playing field for traveling pros vs. local anglers who know every stump and hump in a local lake, like D’Arbonne.
“We want those guys to fish the tournaments, too, but we have to level the playing field for traveling teams to make this work,” he said.
One way they will do that is limiting time on the water before the tournament. All ACT events will have four days of official practice, the Monday through Thursday before the event on Friday and Saturday.
Tournament waters will be off limits the 10 days prior to the first day of official practice, too. And ACT goes even further. ACT tournaments operate under a No Information Rule. Once the 10-day off limit period starts through completion of competition, contestants can not purchase, barter, solicit, or receive information from ANY PERSON who entered official tournament waters during the established off-limits period. You can’t share GPS points, talk to the local bait store, etc. You CAN use any information that is available to the public, like the internet or social media.
* If you enter the tournament just make sure you understand the rules *
ACT is also keenly aware of being a conservation-based organization. They will require fishermen to weigh-in fish live, but they will also place the fish in an aerated tank, keep them alive and release them back in the lake, just like the big-time bass organizations do. Morgan said he wants to see that spread to other tournament organizations and even local club tournaments at some point.
“We have to protect this resource as this sport grows,” he says. “It’s our responsibility and it’s the right thing to do.”
You can find out even more about this tournament trail and even enter online at their website: http://www.americancrappietrail.com/