It’s early. Way too early to be awake, but the ringing from your cell phone is coercing you to get up. Normally you lay in bed hitting the snooze button, but this morning you jump out of bed in anticipation of your first crappie tournament.
Every angler that’s ever fished in a crappie tournament knows that excitement they feel before each and every tournament. Each and every angler anticipates catching the biggest crappie or a monster limit of crappie. The reward of catching the biggest crappie or limit of crappie is normally a trophy cash prize and knowing you were the best angler out there that day.
A few weeks ago I fished with the owner of PICO Lures (www.picolures.com) owner Mitch Glenn in the CrappieMaster Arkansas Crappie Trail tournament on Beaver Lake. The tournament had the largest turnout for a CrappieMasters (www.crappiemasters.net) Arkansas Crappie Trail tournament with 18 teams. It would have been more; however, the current pandemic situation reduced the number of teams that would have taken part in it. Nevertheless, the event went on with every participant practicing safe social distancing. (Anglers were allowed to kiss a caught crappie if they wanted to)!
When fishing in any crappie tournament there are some things an angler should know. First and most important is the tournament rules. Every major, region and even crappie club will have rules to their tournaments. Many of these tournaments will have divisions for youth/adult or top adult/female team prizes that those teams can win so it’s important to read the rules to see if your team qualifies for these prizes.
Crappie tournaments will normally have a registration signup the night before at a designated location or at the boat ramp. During the registration meeting the tournament director will go over the tournament rules; in addition to answering any questions an angler has about the rules for the tournament. One or both members of each team are required to attend the registration meeting.
Most of the tournament trails will have a membership fee. A membership fee has to be signed up for before the tournament or when you enter one of the tournaments. Some tournaments will also have a side pot for big bass if a team or angler wants to sign up for it; in addition to the tournament entry fee. Not paying before the registration due date will result in a team having to pay a late registration fee. Depending on the tournament trail an angler can fish alone or with a partner.
The night before the Arkansas Crappie Trail tournament the registration was held at Crabby’s Seafood Bar and Grill in Rogers, Arkansas. Local and regional crappie fishing teams showed up for registration including Greg Robinson, Payton Usrey, Cameron & Bethany White, Brad Blew, Randy Eden, Seth Eden, Ronnie Davison and the list goes on and on. Tournament Director Jerry McCready and his lovely wife Melissa were registering the teams and signing up new CrappieMaster members plus selling tickets to raffle the prizes given by the tournament sponsors.
Now keep in mind these are some of the best crappie anglers in the region and they all wanted to win this tournament, but the atmosphere was more fellowship and enjoying the evening before the tournament with other anglers. In today’s current health and social issues this was a truly welcomed evening with its anglers. Tournament Director Jerry McCready noted that this atmosphere is how each of the events the Arkansas Crappie Trail tournaments has been received.
“We had 18 teams show up for our inaugural season of the CrappieMasters Arkansas Crappie Trail tournaments. We’re excited about the year so far with the current pandemic situation, boat traffic, hot weather conditions and tough fishing conditions. It’s for sure a lot hotter out then when it was originally scheduled for in the spring of the year. All the teams caught fish today and it turned out to be a great event and we’re looking forward to doing it again next year on Beaver Lake,” said McCready.
Winners of the CrappieMasters Arkansas Crappie Trail tournament were Randy and Seth Eden. “We decided about a week ago to fish in this tournament and it was good to support the tournament,” said Randy. “We basically just covered a bunch of water and a lot of fishing today. One tip I would give to other anglers is to get a Garmin LiveScope and put your time in on the water. The best time is in the spring and just start finding where they are and do the same in the winter time,” said Seth.
As for Team PICO, Mitch and I were on a trolling crankbait bite. We were catching lots and lots of crappie, but not many big crappie. During the tournament we caught a quick 2 limits of keeper crappie and from there we kept culling all day with the action fast and furious, however, the larger fish evaded our PICO Lures INT and Squarebill crankbaits that we were pushing and pulling. Shad patterns were the hot color pattern as schools of shad seemed to be everywhere. The winners, Randy and Seth Eden won utilizing Garmin LiveScope technology to locate and find the winning crappie.
Fishing in crappie tournaments can be an exciting way to compete against other crappie anglers to see who can catch the biggest and large limit of crappie. For anyone interested in fishing in a crappie tournament I can recommend the CrappieMaster tournaments and CrappieMasters Arkansas Crappie Trail tournaments. They are a family friendly tournament trail with great tournament directors.