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Lake life

A look at next week’s Crappie Masters

The 2021 Crappie Masters Louisiana State Championship set for Lake D’Arbonne next week may have a new defending champion, but Matt Rogers of El Dorado Springs, Mo., is doing everything he can to make sure that doesn’t happen. He would like to maintain that honor.

But first, he’s got to get here.

“I just got my new boat and I haven’t even gotten the electronics put on it yet,” he told lakedarbonnelife.com yesterday. “And now we are snowed in, so I’ve got to get them in and on the boat. I don’t even have the electronics yet. Hopefully I’ll get to make it back down there.”

Then, he’s got an even bigger task.

“This is always a tough tournament because people are going to catch fish,” he says. “It’s a popular lake and the LiveScope has even made it more popular because of all the slab crappie. People have gotten so efficient at using it and they can focus on just the big fish so easily. You might have one spider rigging team in the top ten, but I wouldn’t expect more than that.”

Matt is one of the newest members of the Garmin Electronics National Pro Team and also fishes for Angler Sports Marine in Warsaw, Mo.

Last year, Matt and his dad had a beautiful day in the D’Arbonne neighborhood, catching two seven fish limits that weighed a whopping 30.36 pounds.

“The first day we were here, I loved this lake. I caught a 2.33 right off,” Matt said. “Then the next two days of practice 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.”

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 23-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.

This year with the lake freezing over in places this week and the extreme cold, he feels like the fish may still be bunched up a bit more than last year and also a bit deeper. They won’t be moving up ready to stage for spawning just yet for the most part. The thing about D’Arbonne is there are big fish scattered from the spillway all the way up the creeks. Eliminating the least productive water is the first challenge. Then, finding a spot where you can fish without other people disturbing them is the next challenge, he says.

It’s not too late to enter. You can find out more on Crappie Masters’ Facebook or web page.

Something to think about:

While Rogers is on the LiveScope Pro Staff and uses the technology diligently, he also worries that states like Louisiana have been extremely slow to even acknowledge much less adjust to the use of the new technology that so many fishermen — not just tournament fishermen — are using. Examples of his concern is the 50 fish per day limit on D’Arbonne and ability to keep unlimited numbers of big fish.

“A 50-fish-per-day limit? That’s just crazy,” he says. “D’Arbonne is one of those lakes that is on a pedestal as far as slab crappie go. And it’s not a huge lake. You put all the regular fishermen out there with a LiveScope every day and you can really put a hurt on the big crappie. You’ll never fish out D’Arbonne, but you can ruin a prize trophy crappie lake if you don’t manage it. And it can happen fast. During practice, most tournament anglers don’t even keep fish. We catch and keep seven in the tournament and try to release as many alive as possible. But 50 a day? I can’t believe they haven’t lowered the limit and put in some sort of slot to protect the big fish like they have in most other big name crappie lakes.”

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