I can’t wait to read the article in the next on-line American Crappie Trail magazine about the winners of the Rockport Rattler ACT tournament on Lake D’Arbonne that concluded Saturday afternoon. I expect a glowing review of the championship anglers and plenty of details on how to catch more crappie on the ‘Bone. I hope magazine publisher and senior writer Josh Gowan and Editor Alex Rude do the winners justice!
That’s because the winners are — Josh Gowan and Alex Rude! Gowan lived here on D’Arbonne briefly and Josh guided here and said he hated to leave the lake. They live in Missouri now. He’s probably feeling that way more than ever after the duo bested a 100-angler field with two solid seven-fish limits weighing a total of 24 pounds even to win the championship. Many in the crowd were pulling for them at the weigh-in gave them a big welcome home round of applause when they won.
It was a nail biter when first-day leaders Jackie Vancleave and Tim Blackley of Tennessee came to the scales. As their fish flounced around on the scales, it looked like they were going to be the winners, but when the scales stopped and set, the Tennessee anglers were .09 pounds behind the eventual winners. The difference was like the weight of a big minnow!
For their efforts, Gowan and Rude won a $26,000 Ranger fishing boat and other bonus money as well. The runners-up won $6,550.00. Total payout for the tournament was $51,550.
Bob Robinson and Paul Turner were third with 23.64 with a big fish of 2.27 winning $4,100. George Parker and Tim Eberly were third with 23.55 and a big fish of 2.35 to win $3,400. The top ten all took home cash prizes.
Area teams Palmer and Kegan Frost finished 13th with 22.49; Wes Barmore and Mark Theodos finished 15th with 22.38; Nick and Jock Young finished 16th with 22.20, Jason Thomas and Scotty Jonson were 17th with 21.69 and Ronnie Turner and Wayne Howard were 18th with 21.85. It was that close all the way down the line.
Only one of the top 25 teams didn’t have a seven fish limit both days. Fish caught in the tournament were kept alive and released back into the lake. Warming water and big waves from a huge wind in the afternoon gave anglers fits keeping fish alive. A couple of anglers were kept out of the top money because they had a big fish die in the livewell and they could not bring a dead fish to the scales.
Most of the winning teams all caught their fish the same way, including Gowan and Rude. They fished jigs with plastic skirts, tipped with a live minnow. They were spider rigging. The winning catches came from six to 16 feet of water and found the best fish close to the bottom. As tournament co-Founder Matt Morgan pointed out, D’Arbonne was fishing like two lakes this weekend. The fish on the D’Arbonne and Corney creek arms had almost all spawned. On the Big Lake area, there were still many fish spawning, although some of them were spawning in deeper water.
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The American Crappie Trail has provided an exciting week of fishing for fish! But as always, on Sunday, we remind our readers of the most important “fishing” of all: