The consensus among four of the top pro fishermen putting on a brief fishing seminar under the Pavillion in Ruston’s Railroad Park Wednesday night was that it will take between 12 and 13 pounds per day Friday and Saturday to win the American Crappie Trail tournament on Lake D’Arbonne. That would be two seven fish limits averaging about 1.80 pounds per fish for the event. Tournament and ACT organizer Matt Morgan felt like maybe the pros were holding back a few ounces.
“I think it will take 13 1/2 pounds a day to win it,” Morgan told the crowd of about 75 people who braved the stormy weather to meet and greet with more than a dozen pro teams from around the country. Morgan also said he expects fishermen to catch loads of crappie, although post-spawn conditions may limit the number of two pounders caught. Don’t even be surprised if a big black male crappie is the big fish of the tournament. Normally it is the females with eggs that are big fish this time of the year.
“I gotta tell you, there are more fish on this pond than most folks know what to do with,” he said. Fishing fans were supposed to also get to meet the pros out in the parking lot and view their fancy fishing rigs and equipment, some with their matching trucks worth well over $100,000. But Mother Nature had different ideas. She rained on the party. Hard. Continuously.
The good news is all that wind, rain and light show should be gone before the actual competition begins Friday morning at 7 a.m. Weigh-ins will begin around 3:30 each afternoon at D’Arbonne Pointe on the lake.
Whether the winning team catches one pound of fish or 100 pounds, it won’t matter when it comes time to hand out the prizes. That team with the best weight wins a $25,000 Ranger fishing boat, a guaranteed first prize in every American Crappie Trail tournament this year.
Come and watch. It should be fun. And if you see some of the visitors on the lake, be courteous. The fish belong to everybody, but these are two very special days for these folks and they deserve the best southern hospitality we can muster. Good fishing!
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There has already been one fun event on the ‘Bone. A short media tournament Thursday morning featuring local and regional media plus special invited guests was held. The fishermen only had two hours, and it was a pretty brutal time to fish — right after that scary
storm system moved through during the night.
Texas visitor Vicki Sablatura, co-owner of Rockport Rattlers lure company along with husband Charles, won the event with a 2.04 pound crappie. Not bad for just two hours on the water. All three of our local entries in the event, Farmerville Mayor Stein Baughman, Jr., Farmerville Gazette Editor Mark Rainwater and D’Arbonne Pointe owner Kendal Terrel weighed in fish. The Mayor had two nice ones, but could only weigh one.
Others fishing were Tim Huffman, editor for Crappie Now magazine from Missouri; Ron Wong, national freelance fishing writer from Memphis; Cajun Phil Broussard, TV show host from Lake Charles; Ronny Walker, Mayor of Ruston; Travis Napper, Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Sablaturas of Texas.
Quotable Quips from Media day:
John Godwin, star of Duck Dynasty, spoke to the crowd at the weigh-in about last night’s last episode of Duck Dynasty. “Who knew it would last that long,” he said. “They said we’d never make a season. But the Lord’s hand was in it. I mean, come on, it was a show about nothing. Just a bunch of us having a good time. The Lord had to have a hand in it.”
Mark Rainwater, editor of the Gazette, said it was the first time he had been fishing in 40 years. “My main goal this morning was to not fall in. I did it. Catching fish was secondary.”
Mayor Stein Baughman welcomed all the visitors and told them what to do if one of them got a speeding ticket while visiting. “If you get a speeding ticket, I’ll tell you what to do. Just bring it to my office and pay it there.”