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Lake life

Crappie Masters about to get real

If it didn’t come a hurricane or a snowstorm or a cold front or a flood, fishermen in the Crappie Masters wouldn’t know what to do when they came to Lake D’Arbonne. After all, fishermen on this trail have seen all that and more while coming to northeast Louisiana the past several years.

But despite that, they keep coming in record numbers. Why? The fishing is fantastic and the folks are just plain hospitable.

Who will be THE Crappie Master at D’Arbonne? That will be determined by late Saturday afternoon.

“We’ve got 80 teams preregistered for the tournament this weekend and based on what usually happens, we’ll have over 100 boats in the tournament,” President Mike Vallentine said. The last chance to enter was Friday night at the pre-tournament rules meeting. “The fishermen love coming down here and even though we’ve faced just about any kind of situation you can imagine, the fishing is still as good as it gets. No telling what the winning weights would be if we ever caught conditions perfect down here.”

This weekend’s challenge for the Friday and Saturday tournament is rain. But that rain could actually help if it’s a warm rain. The lake water temperatures continue to rise from down in the 30’s the past 10 days. It looks like wind will be blowing hard as well, and that makes catching the crappie even tougher. When the fish get a lot of pressure, like they surely will this weekend, they get a little spooky. And trying to get a spooky crappie to bite is tricky even on a calm day, much less when you are bouncing on the front deck with whitecaps. At least it will be warm. Fishing will be mostly focused on deeper water areas where shad have been concentrated. But nobody knows when a few big ones will start moving up to stage for the spawn. It’s getting to be about that time.

“I still think it will take 29 to 30 pounds to win the tournament, Vallentine said. “I wouldn’t have said that earlier in the week, but the bite is picking up. The quality fish are there and some of these guys will figure it out. Whether we bust 30 pounds like last year, I don’t know. Just because you catch a 15-pound stringer one day doesn’t mean you can do it two days in a row.”

With the water temperatures low, fishermen will be able to preserve their catch for the most part with a low mortality rate for the fish. However, the Hunters for Heroes group will be on hand to make sure any fish that don’t make it will be put to good use, Vallentine said.

Defending champion Matthew Rogers is back to defend his title. Here’s a look at how the Crappie Masters finished last year in their spring D’Arbonne tournament (and a weather forecast for the weekend):

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