You think the American Crappie Trail National Championship is about catching lots of fish? It is to the contestants. But not to ACT President Matt Morgan. He’s already thinking past the bite, the catch and the weigh-in.
He’s already thinking about throwing them back. And they haven’t even been caught yet. Seriously.
Don’t get me wrong. He’s thrilled when he sees big sacks of crappie brought to the scales at any ACT tournament, but he’s more thrilled when he sees his tour’s elaborate fish preservation efforts succeed. His goal is to see every fish caught in an ACT tournament put in the tour’s live tank, taken back out into the home lake and released. See ya’ later, crappie. Live to bite another day.
Most of us don’t think you could ever overfish the crappie resource. But with a huge increase in pressure and even more overwhelming technological advances that can not only let you see fish 20 feet deep, but almost tell you if they are hungry or not, it’s time to pay attention to that. Yes, even in a state like Louisiana when the majority of anglers and professional biologists probably never give it a second thought.
Hear Matt out on this one. Point number one: There’s nothing wrong with fishermen catching crappie and keeping crappie to eat. Nothing. So don’t get hung up on that. That’s why most people fish. He doesn’t do it. If you do, that’s fine. It boils down to personal choice.
But a big high-profile event like this earns itself bonus points with the home folks when it makes presevering the fishery a top priority.
“When we go to a tournament body of water, my No. 1 goal in the long run is that there are no fish taken home,” Morgan told me as he was busy making final preps for the championship on D’Arbonne March 28, 29 and 30th. It’s all a matter of leaving this lake as good as when we arrived.”
ACT has put a big investment into getting the fish back into the water alive and in good shape. Fishermen can only bring live fish to the weigh-in. They are kept in sacks full of treated water, weighed quickly and then taken to a huge freshwater tank with oxygen pumped into the water. The tank is on a pontoon boat and has a bottom drop to release the fish back into the lake without touching human hands once they are brought to the weigh in. It’s an impressive operation. They also release them in deeper water to increase the chances that the fish have no ill effects.
“The brood stock on your home lake is important to you and it is important to us,” says Morgan. “It’s important that every lake have some sort of conservation plan. If not for us, then for our kids and grandkids.”
Sounds like a plan. If you are interested in who can enter the tournament, it’s the top 100 teams on the list at this link. They qualified for the event through the 2018 circuit. ACT YTD Official-Gren
We will have wall-to-wall coverage of the ACT here on lakedarbonnelife.com Stay tuned!