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Lake life

ACT brings big week to the ‘Bone

It’s going to be a big week on the ‘Bone.

The newly formed American Crappie Trail hits the water on Lake D’Arbonne this week. After a 10-day off limits period for tournament anglers, practice begins on Monday and goes through Thursday. The actual tournament will be Friday and Saturday with take-off and weigh-in at D’Arbonne Pointe.

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Bilbrey and Hankins

The first ACT tournament paid out $55,000 in cash and prizes, including a new $26,000 Ranger fishing boat for the first place team! The tour’s initial tournament was held March 10-11 on Lake Grenada in Mississippi.

Approximately 55 teams are expected on D’Arbonne.

Among the entrants to fish here on D’Arbonne are the Crappie Crazy team of Ron Bilbrey and Thomas Hankins, touring pros from Indiana, who won the first ACT tournament on Lake Grenada in Mississippi.

“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,” said tour co-founder Matt Morgan, a professional crappie fisherman himself.  “I

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Matt Morgan

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.”

Lake D’Arbonne was handpicked by Morgan as one of five regular season tournament sites for the new trail this year for two reasons. “First, it’s a premier crappie fishery,” he said. “Second, local support is vital. This community gets it. That’s a big deal.”

Did I mention it was going to be a big week around D’Arbonne? Here are some of the things going on with the tournament in our area.

Monday, March 27

Anglers from a dozen states can hit the water for practice, trying to locate the crappie and hone in on the techniques that can bring the payoff money to their boats. Practice continues until Thursday, when anglers have to be off the water at 4 p.m.

Note to fishermen:   Local sporting goods store, TaterBugs, will be opening at 5:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday so fishermen can get shiners and other gear bright and early. They have also stocked extra large shiners, the bait of choice for many crappie anglers!

Wednesday, March 29

Its “Meet the Pros” night in downtown Ruston at 6 p.m., where the ACT is hosting a meet and greet for fishermen and fishing fans at Railroad Park.  The professionals of the American Crappie Trail and their beautiful boats will be on display in Railroad Park. They will be available for photos, autographs, and all of your crappie fishing questions. Then they will put on three Crappie Fishing Seminars that will be helpful for all skill levels:
#1  Spider Rigging/Trolling
#2  Jig Fishing
#3  Crappie Fishing 101

Among the fishermen planning to be at “Meet the Pros”  Wednesday night will be local fan favorite and TV personality John Godwin of West Monroe. Godwin’s an avid fisherman and a regular on Lake D’Arbonne and he’s in the tournament!

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John Godwin

Thursday , March 30

In the morning, the ACT will host a Media Fish-Off with writers and broadcasters fishing the event with touring pros. They will weigh-in at D’Arbonne Pointe at 9:30 a.m. followed by interview sessions and the visitors heading to Sevin’s Cajun Restaurant in Farmerville for lunch. Some well known outdoor writers from around the south will be attending and competing.

Thursday night will be the Registration and Banquet at the Lincoln Parish Library. Team Registration is from 4-6 pm  followed by a mandatory rules and competition meeting at 6:30 p.m.

Also Thursday night is Angler’s Night at Lache Pas La Patate’s with a chance for visitors, their families and friends and other fishermen to get together for some more good Louisiana food and fellowship. This is open to the public. Sampler platters of Jambalaya, Gumbo and Boudin will be on sale for $12 and as usual, crawfish and shrimp will be served.

BONUS* –  The place will be jumping again Friday night as local signer and current Nashville Resident Katie Knight will be on hand and will be singing some of her favorite songs from 6  – 9 p.m. and there will be a special fundraiser for the Relay For Life. You can eat crawfish till you start walking backwards and, of course, she’ll be singing “Lake D’Arbonne”. There will also be a pitching contest off the front deck of a boat and the one that hits the target the most will win a big prize. This, too, is open to the public! It would be awesome to have a big turnout for this worthy cause!

Friday, March 31 & Saturday, April 1

This is when the real deal goes down. Boats will be checked out and leave D’Arbonne Point with fishing hours set from 7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Anglers must be in the weigh-in line by 4:30 p.m. The Weigh-in is open to the public.

Fish caught in the tournament will be weighed alive, placed in a special ACT Release Boat and to be released back into Lake D’Arbonne.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

And, if you want to know more, here’s a neat place to look. It’s the first edition of the American Crappie Trail Online Magazine put together by Publisher/Senior Writer Josh Gowan and Editor Alex Rude:


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Don’t miss it! And do your part to help our area put it’s best foot forward for these visitors during the week! We are pulling for them and our local fishermen to have a great tournament!



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