Local angler Chris Fuller has seen the struggles of the American Crappie Trail first hand the past two years as expenses for tournament anglers have skyrocketed and good payouts are restricted to just the top few spots. And numbers of teams participating are dwindling. He plans on changing that and bringing the ACT back to being a premier tournament circuit for crappie fishermen.
The first step to do that was to go in as a partner with Crappie Masters owner Blake Jackson to buy the ACT earlier this month.
“We plan for the two tournament circuits to work together and not end up on top of each other and we’ve got big plans to get sponsors to ante up to make it worth these anglers fishing in the pro tournaments,” the owner of Car Zone USA locally said.
“It’s ambitious, but right now only the top spot or two really pays enough to make it worthwhile for anglers to compete,” he said. “We’ve got to change that.
Fuller has always liked to crappie fish and at the insistence of fellow crappie angler and friend, Terry Richard of West Monroe, Fuller started fishing tournaments two years ago Fuller fishes the American Crappie Trail with partner Richard Faulk and he fishes Crappie Masters with his wife, Sandy.
ACT’s remaining schedule for 2022 include Grenada lake Sept 9-10 with a guarantee of $12,500 to the champions with $5,000 guarantee to the Big Fish Champion. This is the last qualifying event for the 2022 B’n’M Angler of the Year points race.
The year will end with the 2022 National Championship on the Ouachita River October 6, 7 & 8 with a total purse of $75,000 for both the AOY and the Classic winners. The top 100 finishers are eligible for the tournament.
There will also be a new Senior Tournament Division held in conjunction with the last two events.
“Right now we have meetings with sponsors set up for the upcoming ICAST show and we are going to work hard to get the money that anglers deserve. There are a lot of companies that have made a lot of money off crappie fishermen and we will work to get them to ante up.”
Right now, with entry fees and expenses the way they are, an angler team has to spend more than $2,000 in costs just to pre-fish and fish an event. If you don’t finish in the top five, you lose money. Sometimes it isn’t even that good.
Fuller and Faulk fished the most recent tournament on Truman Lake and finished second, but only 31 teams fished and that’s when the former owner decided to sell. Fuller was glad and is exited about trying to move the ACT in the right direction for anglers.
He also looks forward to helping keep this area as a vital part of both circuits with high interest in Lake D’Arbonne, the Ouachita River and other great crappie lakes in our region.