Fishing is supposed to be fun. But for 139 teams of fishermen on the ‘Bone this week, it is all business. And for one of them, it will be a $30,000 business transaction.
That’s what first place will pay in the 2021 Crappie Masters National Championship on Lake D’Arbonne. In addition to top championship money, a total of $125,000 in cash and prizes plus bonuses will be paid to the leaders as well as several other special awards like Angler Team of the Year. If these folks seem serious on the lake, they are. This isn’t a summer vacation fishing trip.
“You are right, it’s all business for these folks this week,” said Blake Jackson, the new owner of the Crappie Masters organization. “Crappie fishing is the most fun sport out there, but this week it is serious. These fishermen are spending countless hours on the water, giving it their all and trying to win the championship. It’s a big deal. They spend a ton of time and money just to get here. It’s more than the money. Your name changes tremendously if you win this event and you can say you are the national champion. That never goes away. There’s a lot on the line.”
Jackson points out the the bite has been good on D’Arbonne, but finding kicker fish — those big two pounders — and getting them to bite has not been easy. Cooler temps the next few days may make them a big more eager. But weights will be really tight, Jackson says. In fact, a half a pound more or less could change an angler’s finish in the championship standings by 20 places. One thing that will make it tough is that the fish were already a bit skittish this summer. If they take a pounding during practice and the tournament, the big ones will even be harder to get to bite. Just because you can see a fish on an underwater sonar/camera unit doesn’t mean they’ll bite.
A majority of the big name competitive fisherman and fisherwoman who have fought their way through the competitive ranks will be there this week. Some will be here all week. Some of them have been here two weeks. it’s a huge economic boom for not only Farmerville, but the whole area. But what it all comes down to is who can find the bigger fish, who can get them to bite and who can do it consistently for two days.
And it will come down to mere tenths of an ounce in many cases. One man who will see that unfold up close is Brian Sowers, the weighmaster for the Crappie Masters. He’ll handle every bag of fish brought to the scales.
“With the electronics out there and the talent and ability out there that has been developed over the past few years, somebody is going to find some big fish and somebody is going to catch a pretty big weight,” says Sowers. “Since it’s Lake D’Arbonne, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it isn’t going to take something pushing 28 pounds to win it.”
That’s a two pound average for a seven fish limit two days in a row. Who can do that?
“Seriously, I’ve been asked dozens of times who I think will win,” says Sowers, a veteran of Crappie Masters weigh-ins. “To be honest, it could be anybody in the field. Everybody thinks it will be won single poling with Livescope, but it could also be won spider rigging or at this time of year, pulling crank baits. You’ll see all those techniques employed.”
Fishing hours will be 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. and anglers must be in line by 4:30 with their fish. The public is encouraged to attend. Some anglers with huge bags may weigh in early because they don’t want to chance losing their fish, which must be alive when weighed in.
Tuesday night will be busy with an Angler’s Night at K&M Coffee,Corks & Camo. The public is welcome to come hang out with the anglers. There will also be a Crappie Fishing Seminar with Dan Dannenmueller at the Union Parish Museum downtown in Farmerville at 5:30 to kick off the Museum’s new Hook, Line & Sinker display.
Wednesday night is the registration and Sponsor Showcase at the Willie Davis Recreation Center and Thursday there will be a media fish-off from 9-11 a.m. followed by the actual tournament Friday and Saturday. It’s all worth a watch, especially if you have youngsters interested in fishing.
Thanks to all the sponsors who helped put up the funding to make this tournament possible, especially the Louisiana Department of Tourism and Lt. Governor Billy Nunguesser, Union Parish Tourist Commission,Town of Farmerville, Union Parish Police Jury and Union Chamber of Commerce. And thanks to Crappie Masters, all the fishermen and their families who made it a great week in Lake D’Arbonne Country!