It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood on Lake D’Arbonne for the father-son team of Matthew and Bruce Rogers of El Dorado Springs, Missouri, Saturday. The landed their second straight seven fish limit to weigh in a total of 30.36 pounds on 14 crappie to claim the Crappie Masters Louisiana State Championship. They came from sixth place after day one to win the $10,000 first prize. Their 16.47 weight Saturday was the biggest 7-fish limit of the tournament, and maybe the biggest ever here in a tournament.
“The first day we were here, I loved this lake. I caught a 2.33 right off,” Matthew, the son half of this team, said. “Then the next two days things changed and they got so spooky, I didn’t like it much. But the last two days, we started figuring it out and now my opinion has changed a lot. There are just so many big fish here. D’Arbonne’s a great lake. If there’s another big tournament here, we’ll be here.”
The Rogers’ adjusted their LiveScope strategy because of spooky fish. Normally, you locate fish on the scope, then drop a jig or minnow down to the fish.
“They weren’t having any of that,” the 22-year old angler said. “We ended up having to set the scope out to 40 feet, then when we saw a big fish, we would cast out past it and bring the bait back past them. That’s the only way we could get them to bite without spooking them.”
They also moved down to the big lake, where they found the big fish had moved out just a little bit from where they had been before the tournament, something they attributed to boat pressure in the area. The fish had been holding on timber, but moved off slightly from the cover they had been holding on and suspended nearby over a slight underwater depression.
Terry Stewart and his daughter, Terra, made a run and ended up second in the tournament, claiming $5,000. Terry is from Mississippi and his daughter lives in Sterlington. Terry is original from this area. They had 14 fish that weighed 29.64. Dustin Harris and Kelly Graham were third with 29.07, TJ and Alex Palmer were fourth with 28.69 and Lamar Bunting and Greg London fifth with 28.63. They were followed by Tim Hebert and Andre Smith with 28.44; first-day leaders Billy and Scott Williams with 28.35; Roert Carlile with 28.26; Chris Bushart and Jay Burress with 27.14 and Josh Jones with 27.12 to round out the top ten.
The first day leaders had a good catch Saturday, but not enough to stay in the lead. They, too, had discovered in Friday’s round that in order to catch the really big ones, they had to pitch their lure out past the fish then bring it back to them. When they lowered it straight down, it spooked the fish. But their secret was figured out by several other teams on Saturday.
Eight of the top ten teams had fish averaging MORE THAN two pounds apiece. Unheard of. The Rogers’ big fish was 2.87 Saturday, Stewart’s 2.81, Harrs/Graham’s 2.98 and the Palmer’s 2.64.
The big fish of the tournament was caught by the team of Dan Langston and James Peagram at 3.25.
It was a very tough tournament on most of our local tournament fishermen. Some of them had good catches, but just not good enough to bust into the top ten with the veteran LiveScope anglers on the tour. Jared Riser and Chris Fields had 14 fish weighing 25.98 to finish 16th but other usual top finishers and some pretty dang good anglers failed to make the paycheck line. That’s why you call it fishing.
We will have a lot more on the tournament on lakedarbonnelife.com later this week, including quite a photo gallery of literally giant crappie.
As with every Sunday, we are going to leave you with a Bible Verse. Actually, this is a verse and a short Bible Lesson:
God has blessed me, and all of us, with many wonderful experiences and opportunities. Many of mine have been in the great outdoors especially around fishing. I’ve caught my fair share, but in the end, don’t forget. God has called us to be Fishers of Men.
Matthew 14:9 — “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Listen carefully here — Fishing is fun. But in the end, God doesn’t count the crappie or the bass we catch. And one day we’ll account for not what we put in our livewell, but for who we help put in his.