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Lake life

Cagle woos Ouachita crappie, wins title!

Eric Cagle got his big trophy!

When Alabama fishing guide and pro crappie tournament fishermen Eric Cagle saw the last fish hit the schools and realized he was the winner of the Crappie Masters National Championship on the Ouachita River Saturday, he was at a loss for words.

He said he wanted that big first place trophy more than the $30,000 first place check, although his wife may have corrected him on that. But when he finally got his chance to talk, he didn’t have to say much to express his pleasure.

“In the words of Rick Flair, WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” he yelled.

We get it. Cagle came from third place to take the win with a two day, 14 fish limit weighing 28.81 pounds. The standard for slab crappie two pounds. When you overcome the pressure of a national championship to do that on a river system following a hurricane and a tropical storm, which brought 10 inches of rain this week, in one month — that’s saying something!

“We had 107 miles of river out there and it’s a lot of water, but it doesn’t fish big. it fishes small,” he said. “These bayous and cuts and lakes that hold fish, they all have people in them. What I do is just go in there and zone out and don’t worry about anything but me. I don’t have a partner, so when I need to talk, I just talk with my dog.”

The team of Dustin Harris and Kelley Graham finished second with 27.93 pounds followed by first day leader Robert Carlisle with 27.36.

Carlisle said after the Day One weigh-in it’s almost better to be in second or third and fish your way to the top the second day that to face the pressure and expectations of the lead. His words proved true.

Local anglers were led by a fourth place finish by Heath Rogers and Lance Bilberry with 26.97. Overall, 104 teams fished the tournament.

Big fish of the tournament was and was 2.74 pounds and was caught by Dustin Harris & Kelley Graham.

Complete results and photos for the tournament and the Angler of the Year will be posted on Crappie Masters on Facebook. We’ll have more on the tournament in future articles.

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