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Lake life

Mardi Gras…crappie style

Big slab crappie are lurking 16-20 feet deep in the channels on Lake D’Arbonne. Some are moving up along the edges of contour lines at the edges of sloughs and other staging areas preparing to begin the spawn. On sunny days, some are even venturing in to the shallow water trees looking for a place to bed down.

They are ready for the Mardi Gras season, crappie style.

Throw me something Mister!” A shiner, maybe even two on a double minnow rig. Or a pink headed jig with a Bobby Garland Glitter Critter. Or maybe a slow moving chartreuse Road Runner. . . with a Crappie Nibble attached, of course.

Mike Vallentine

The fish are about to get their wish. Not only will the regular crappie fishermen be fulfilling their request by throwing them something, it’s about to get real. The fishing crowd will be joined by up to 100 two-man teams of professional anglers, who are about to parade onto D’Arbonne and see who can float the title of “King of the Krewe of Crappie” as the Louisiana State Champion.

The event is scheduled for February 22 & 23. It’s hard to believe it’s less than two weeks away. The early deadline period for entering passed at midnight Sunday night, but plenty of anglers will be casting their lot with Crappie Masters in the coming two weeks. The cutoff for entry is Thursday night, Feb. 21, at the tournament registration meeting. Actual fishing days in the event are Friday and Saturday.

Fishing Report? Better get one this week. Fishing has been great this winter. Most of the good fish are in the deeper water, but are holding in spots like the mouths of creeks or edges of deeper flats that indicate they want to move up as soon as the weather stays the same two days in a row.

Next week’s fishing report will be, well, let’s say fisherman in the tournament won’t be exactly forthcoming with exact longitudes, latitudes, depths and hot bait colors. In fact, the graphic to the left pretty well sums it up. Too much is at stake for the ones in the big event.

“I hate to guess, but I think if the weather and the water conditions are right, we could break the 100-team barrier this year,” said Mike Vallentine, President of Crappie Masters. “The bite has been on and should continue to only get better unless Mother Nature throws us a curve like last year. But heck, even in the worst conditions you could imagine Nick and Jock Young brought in nearly 25 pounds. D’Arbonne is one of those lakes that, if things are right, you could see a 30-pound stringer for two days win the thing.”

Vallentine said anglers from around the country will be coming for the event, mainly because of the numbers and size of the fish, but also because the fishermen are treated to great food, nice folks and a really friendly atmosphere, all packed together in one area.

The $350 entry fee scares away some local anglers, but Vallentine said that shouldn’t happen. Even though many the best crappie fishermen in America will be entering, nearly 70% of the Crappie Masters tournaments are won by local lake anglers.

“We need the locals to get back in it and support the tournament because they have the home lake advantage. They have years of experience where the visiting anglers only have two or three days to find the fish and figure out what is going on,” Vallentine said.

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