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Lake life

The “P” in crappie competition

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What will separate the fish dinner winners from the fish cleaners in the upcoming Crappie Masters National Qualifier Louisiana State Championship on Feb. 23 & 24 on Lake D’Arbonne?

You can bet your best Bobby Garland crappie lure that every entrant in the tournament is a good crappie fisherman. So there are no slack liners. But why will some do better than others? Is it luck? Having the right bait? Being in the right spot at the right time? Some of those for sure.

But Mike Vallentine thinks he knows what really separates the men from the boys on tournament days:

“I think patience is always the biggest factor,” Mike says. “Most of the anglers will pick up good patterns, but the one’s that stick with it and are willing to fish long and hard for seven big bites will usually be the winners. You have to be patient and stick with your game plan.”

It’s easy to catch a seven fish limit on Lake D’Arbonne this time of year. But it’s also easy Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 5.00.45 PMto find out all those “two pounders” we catch on an average spring afternoon really only weigh a pound and a half or pound and three quarters. Those digital scales never lie.

“It could take catching seven fish that weigh almost two pounds each day to win the D’Arbonne event,” Vallentine admits. And big fish don’t bite morning and night like smaller crappie. They are on a different schedule. There are certain times of the day and certain ways they want the food presented. They are finicky. That’s how they got to be big fish.”

Of course, there are times when the stars align and they bite like crazy and that’s when tournaments like Crappie Masters get real interesting. It can be a shootout with 10 teams within ounces of each other. And that’s why those scales go to the “hundredths” of an ounce. That’s also why you’ll see the experienced tournament anglers run to the scales to weigh their fish so they can get there with every drop of water possible still on the fish.

Crappie Masters already has two tournaments under their life vest in 2017. The latest was this past weekend on Lake Talquin in Florida.  Congratulations George Parker and Tim Eberly on their win with a two day total of 14 crappie weighing 25.25 pounds.  Terry Richard of West Monroe was the only area fishermen who made the long road trip. He and his new partner Kent Williams of Arkansas were in seventh place after day one with 7 fish weighing 10.18,  but slipped to 26th after not weighing a fish Saturday. They’ll be a team to watch on the Bone.

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Parker and Eberly with some Florida slabs

To get all the details about how to enter the upcoming Lake D’Arbonne event here click


And one more reminder:  There are some big bucks to be had in the Crappie Masters event and more than likely, it will be won by a local or area team. Many of the top spots will also go to locals that try their hands against the traveling pros. If you are itching to give it a shot, the only thing I can say is, “You’ll never know unless you try.”




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