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Lake life

Crappie Masters: Have tournaments; will travel

It’s not unusual for some folks to load up and go to the beach every year. Others might even go to Disney World every year, or make a trip to hunting camp every year. But going somewhere three times in seven months? That’s a stretch.

But that is exactly what Mike Vallentine and Crappie Masters are doing in 2021. They are hooking up their fishing boat, weigh-in trailer and all the trimmings it takes to put on a major fishing event and coming to us. And here’s the kicker: Each event guarantees $10,000 to the winners!

It starts the weekend of February 26 & 27 when the pro crappie tour rolls into Farmerville for a national qualifier. That’s just a month away, folks. Then later in the spring, Crappie Masters will hold a first-of-it’s kind three day Individual National Championship on the Ouachita River out of Monroe-West Monroe on May 6-8.

The Crappie Masters tour will return to the shores of Lincoln and Union parishes on D’Arbonne for the granddaddy of their tournaments — the team National Championship on September 22-25. The last time CM was on D’Arbonne last spring, the father and son team of Matthew and Bruce Rogers had a two-day total of 30.36 pounds with 14 crappie to beat out the father-daughter team of Terry and Terra Stewart who brought 29.64 pounds to the scale. Terry is formerly from West Monroe and Terra is from Sterlington.

Last year on the Ouachita River out of Monroe/West Monroe, local fishermen Jason Thomas and Shannon Porter won the Crappie Masters National Qualifier with a two day total of 14 crappie weighing 26.96 pounds. 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.

Mike Vallentine

One thing the whole competitive crappie world will be keeping its eyes on his the Individual National Championship on the Ouachita. It’s an event for one person per boat with a guaranteed first prize payout of $10,000. It’s never been done before and should draw a huge crowd. One interesting thing is that it will pit some fishermen who are partners with each other in regular tournaments against each other, but that should just add more fun to the event. There’s a $400 entry fee for that event. It’s an open event so anybody can fish it. The entire field will fish the first two days, then the top 20% of the field will fish on the final day. This event will have a five-fish limit per day instead of the usual seven-fish limit for team tournaments. That will make every fraction of every ounce count! The weights from the first two days will carry over as well, so the total three day catch will go for the title. Another interesting twist is that the river will be off limits for ten days before the actual tournament. More rules and news about the event will be coming in the next month or so.

Crappie Masters will continue its Louisiana State Tournament circuit again this year as well this year.

Each of these events have a huge impact on Farmerville, Ruston and the Monroe-West Monroe and the whole Lake D’Arbonne Country area. Not only does each even bring in thousands of dollars in expenditures, it also leaves a positive publicity trail that follows all year long and brings in even more fishermen and dollars to the area all year long. No other area in the country on any pro fishing trail has three major events within 30 miles of each other this year. And don’t kid yourself, there are a lot of areas that would love to have this kind of attention for their tourism/economic benefits. Plus it’s a great boost to the fishing public in these areas because of the attention that draws hundreds to the weigh-ins and thousands to see the results on social media. Benefits are felt for miles around.

You can find out more about the Crappie Masters trail, each event and other information about signing up for the tournaments on https://crappiemasters.net/tournaments/ or on the Crappie Masters Facebook page.

Matthew and Bruce Rogers, defending Lake D’Arbonne champs
Shannon Porter and Jason Thomas, defending Ouachita River champs

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