Midway through the final day of the Crappie Masters Louisiana State Championship on Lake D’Arbonne Saturday, first-day leaders Jason and Brandon Threadgill knew the odds of matching their Friday catch of 17 pounds plus were against them. And even though it was Brandon’s birthday, he kept hoping that $10,000 first place check might be among his present this year.
They were struggling. Then, about 1 p.m., he hooked a two-pound plus crappie, but it wrapped in the trolling motor and cut his line. They hoped for more big bites, but the afternoon bite that lifted them to the lead yesterday just wasn’t coming. But hold on. Then they hooked another two-pound plus fish not long before the end of the fishing time and as it came to the surface, the knot on their fishing lure came loose. The fish swam free.
It was kind of quiet for a while. They headed to the weigh in with seven fish that ended up weighing 13.89 pounds. The last team to be allowed to weigh in, they were, in their words, “sweating bullets”.
But it was to be a Happy Crappie Birthday after all. The two anglers, who live near Demopolis, Alabama, had a two-day total of 31.21 to win by mere ounces over the second place team of Lamar Bunting and Greg London with 30.83.
The top finishing local team was Jared Riser and Chris Fields in fifth place with 30.23. The local team of Heath Rogers and Lance Bilberry were in second after Day One, but had trouble catching fish Saturday and ended up in seven place with 29.79. South Louisiana’s Tim Hebert and Andre Smith were sixth with 30.11. Brandon Smith was third with 30.72 fishing by himself and defending champions Matthew Rogers and Bruce Rogers were fourth with 30.29. Ruston’s Dusty and Anders McGehee won the Adult – Youth Division.
The top 14 teams weighed in over a 2 pound average. In case you are thinking maybe that slab sack that weighed 17.32 pounds is a Crappie Masters one-day record, sorry. It wasn’t even close. Jay and Rhonda Reeve from Texas hold that record on Mississippi’s Grenada Lake where they caught seven fish weighing 20.54, just ounces shy of a three-pound per fish size. Grenada is a closely managed crappie lake with catch limits of 15 fish per person per day or 40 crappie per boat if there are more than two anglers fishing. They also have size limits and strict restrictions on yo yo fishing devices.
At the weigh-in, the winners gave up their fishing secrets for this weekend.
“We finally did it,” said Jason. “Man, those fish were spooky today. We were seeing them and as soon as a bait would hit the water, the big ones took off for somewhere else. Even if you bumped your foot on the boat, they’d take off.”
They ended up catching most of their fish in the tournament casting Puddle Jumper lures and Bayou Bob hair jigs, mostly in gray colors. They were fishing flats and found as the day warmed up, some of the big fish were coming up as shallow as three feet. They said extra boat traffic for the weekend made it tough on almost everybody, but that’s part of it.
Rogers and Bilberry found early that their fish had moved and they tried to stay with where they had been too long. By the time they adjusted and found more big fish, the wind came up and blew them off the fish so they couldn’t catch them.
You can see all the results and where your favorite team finished at https://crappiecentral.com/leaderboard/ It’s also a great place to keep up with the results of every major tournament.