You can catch crappie on Reelfoot Lake in north Tennessee a lot like you can catch crappie on Lake D’Arbonne in north Louisiana. That may not mean anything to most folks around here, but it does to Tony Hughes and Jeff Riddle.
The Hornbeak, Tennessee natives put what they’ve learned on their home lake to work on D’Arbonne Saturday and moved into the lead for the top prize in the $130,000 Lucas Oil American Crappie Trail National Championship. They weighed in seven fish at 12.61 for a two-day total of 24.67. The top 25 teams survived to fish in Saturday’s final round, with the weigh-in set for around 4 p.m. at Ruston’s Railroad Park. Anglers will leave D’Arbonne after the 3 p.m. end of fishing and caravan there to weigh in their catches. The champions will take home a new $40,000 fully rigged Ranger Boat. The first two weighins were held at D’Arbonne Pointe on the lake.
But this one won’t be over till the fat crappie lady sing. It’s close. The top seven anglers are all within a pound of the leaders. The 25th place team is less than two pounds behind.
Locals Stuart Baum and Steve Perotti slipped to fourth after leading the first day with 23.87. Daniel Porter and Jeremy Aldridge are second with 24.40 and Rick Solomon and Mike Walters third with 23.89. Several local teams are way up in the standings, including Matt Saterfiel and Peyton Hemphill in eighth with 23.44 and Jason Thomas and Scotty Johnson in 23th with 23.22. Former D’Arbonne resident and guide Josh Gowan and his wife Alex are in sixth ad Heath Rogers and Lance Bilberry are in 20th.
There’s a race within this race as well, with another boat on the line. The B’n’M Angler of the Year race is tight. Points Leaders Ronnie Capps and Steve Coleman of Tennessee are 11 points ahead of Mississippi’s Terry and Cole Stewart coming into this tournament. Both teams made the cut and are in the finals. The Stewarts are currently in 15th with 22.95 and the Capps & Coleman team are in 16th with 22.94.
We did get a chance to ask the leaders about where they were fishing, what they were catching them on, what technique they were using and the like. We’ll share what they told us:
“Tomorrow,” Hughes said. “Final answer”.
The top 25 teams will all leave from D’Arbonne Pointe around 7 a.m. in the morning after shutting down their engines, lining up, saying a prayer and playing the National Anthem. It’s a first class group.
If you want to keep up with what’s going on around the weigh-in and the awards dinner Saturday night, check out the ACT Facebook page. Tomorrow’s final results will be a bit later, but can watch the final weigh-in live streamed on the page:
Complete results for the top 25 are listed below: