What was their secret? The bait? The water? The area? Was it just their lucky day? Nope. None of those specifically.
Jason Thomas and Shannon Porter won the Crappie Masters National Qualifier on the Ouachita River with a two day total of 14 crappie weighing 26.96 pounds to claim the $10,600 first prize check. It was an emotional day for the two anglers who came to the scales needing 12.50 pounds to win it. When the scales lit up at 13.31, they let out a sigh of relief and began the celebration. All of a sudden, they were the only two in the weigh-in or crowd that weren’t sweating anymore. There was no social distancing between these two fishing partners when the finally tally had been made. Who could blame them.
Okay, their secret?
“We were just grinding and praying. Grinding and praying,” said Jason. “One of the things that makes us a strong team is that we trust each other and we trust the decisions we make. Today some things weren’t going right and the bite wasn’t what we wanted, but we stuck it out and got the seven we needed to win it. We just worked as hard as we could. We were in a good spot. The fish were holding out off the timber. We knew we could catch them. One of our key baits was our Jimmy Watt jigs. We just had to grind and pray. Oh man, this feels good. This really feels good. “
They fished several baits and moved around a little bit, but basically they stuck with the plan they developed before the tournament began, even though the river has been on a steady fall and the fishing pressure really moved some of the crappie around.
“We were getting a reaction bite today,” Shannon said. “We switched to a bladed jig early to get a few bites, then the hotter it got the better the bite was.”
The local duo also tipped their jigs with shiners, which helped with the bite.
Defending national champion Robert Carlisle ended up in second. If you think fishing an event like this is easy, just check out what he did. He came to the river from Oklahoma over a week ago and ran the entire 100-mile stretch looking for good spots. He narrowed them down, checked them with his electronics and spend hours from daylight till dark making a plan. His two seven-fish limits weighed 26-14.
Brian Young and Diesel Byrd finished third with 25.96; Trey and Tucker Underwood were fourth with 25.41 and locals Heath Rogers and Lance Bilberry tied with Oklahoma fishing guide Josh Jones for fifth with 23.35. The ninth place team of Dusty McGehee and John Harrison landed big fish of the event with a 2.28 pounder.
The catches were pretty amazing considering the river has gone up and down and the temperatures were near 100 degrees for the two days. It’s a testament to the quality of crappie in the Ouachita River system. Most of the anglers that were in the top finishers fished off the river and out of the current.
We’ll have more on the tournament on lakedarbonnelife.com later this week. Crappie Masters will be back on the Ouachita River for its National Championship this Fall Sept. 23-26.
It’s Sunday, so we always end our post with a Bible verse. Congratulations to the top finishers in the tournament. And even moreso, congratulations to all those who listen to and follow God, every day whether fishing for fish or for men… Luke 5:4-6:
And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.