If you went crappie fishing on Lake D’Arbonne Friday and you didn’t catch anything, you might not want to read any more of this.
The fish were biting. Only three of the 54 teams in the American Crappie Trail professional tournament brought to us by title sponsor Rockport Rattlers lure company Friday did not catch a seven fish limit. Many caught more fish than they knew what to do with, but could only bring seven to the scales. Several in the tournament who fished shiners actually reported running out of their favorite bait.
Leading the way after DAY ONE were two Tennessee fishermen, Tim Blackley and Jackie Vancleave, well-known anglers in the tournament fishing world. Their seven fish weighed 13.15 pounds to edge out Wes Barmore and Mark Theodus with 12.58 in second.
Barmore and Theodus are carring the “locals” championship hopes banner. They live right down the road from Lake D’Arbonne between Farmerville and Ruston. Missouri anglers Tony Edgar and Travis Epley were third and had big crappie of the day at 2.39 pounds.
The entire top 25 had more than 11 pounds in their bags! Six of the top 20 had a crappie over two pounds.
(See, if you got skunked today, I told you that you didn’t want to hear all of this)
The exact hows and where’s of how this happened, and what the anglers will do tomorrow, are a tight-lipped secret going into Saturday’s second and final day when the winners will claim a new $25,000 Ranger Boat and $50,000 in cash and prizes will be handed out to the winners. Fishermen are literally catching fish everywhere in the lake, from the spillway to both arms of the creek. They are in shallow water and on the flats and creek channel edges. The key appears to be finding a good group of fish and staying with them. Most of the leading anglers apparently didn’t move once they got on good fish Saturday until the had to come to the weigh-in.
The biggest news of the day for Lake D’Arbonne didn’t come at the scales, though. ACT
Co-Founder Matt Morgan confirmed what he told tournament anglers Thursday night. The American Crappie Trail will be bringing it’s National Championship to Lake D’arbonne in the spring of 2019. There are still a lot of details to be worked out and the regular season schedule of 2018 tournaments is still in the works. But the National Championship will be the biggest crappie tournament ever held in the state of Louisiana.
One of the key elements of the ACT tournaments as far as locals go is that contestants have to bring their fish in alive and the fish are all kept in bags of water, then released back into the lake where they came from.
“It’s important for us to do that for a number of reasons,” Morgan said. “We want to leave the lakes we fish in just as good a shape as they were when we came here. We all have to learn to be better conservationists when it comes to this valuable resource. it’s the right thing to do.”
The final weigh-in as at D’Arbonne Pointe tomorrow, beginning around 3:30 p.m. and wrapping up with the title presentation around 4:30 – 5 p.m. Friday’s weigh in took a long time because of the large number of fish checked in and weighed in. And that’s a good thing. Unless, of course, you went fishing Friday and didn’t catch any.
This tournament is on Lake D’Arbonne because it was hand-picked by Morgan due to its fantastic fishing and community support. It wouldn’t have been possible without financial support locally from the Union Parish Tourist Commission, the Union Parish Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Farmerville, the Union Parish Police Jury and the Lincoln Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau.
If you can’t make the weigh-in, you can keep up with all the action right here. The live weigh-in for Lake D’Arbonne will start with pre-game coverage at 3:30 PM. Click here to watch the event live!