With Cabela’s Crappie USA (CUSA) Classic coming this weekend on Kentucky and Barkley Lakes, I have been looking into some of the popular crappie trail’s history. I discovered one of the largest payouts in crappie tournament history. It was back in 2002 at the Crappie USA Classic on Pickwick Lake, AL. Berkley offered a bonus that was broken down into three parts.
The bonus was $25,000 if you were using Crappie Nibbles; 25,000 if you were using Berkley line and $50,000 if you were using all Mitchell reels. Crappie USA provides both an amateur and a pro division. The bonus was divided equally between the two divisions. That meant that each division would have a possible $50,000 up for grabs.
The insurance company covering the bonus estimated that 12 percent of the 424 anglers fishing the classic would qualify for part of the bonus by producing their receipts of purchase to prove they were qualified and using the designated products. When the totals were posted a whopping 77 percent of the anglers qualified for at least part of the total $100,000 bonus offering.
The winning team in the amateur division was James Barnes and Dickey Barry who won the entire $50,000 bonus. They also earned the regular payback and a Ranger boat for big fish. Their total take home was $102,500.
“To my knowledge that is the largest payback in crappie fishing history,” reported CUSA General Manager, Darrell Van Vactor.
The winners in the pro division was Lynn Gilliam and Tim Ridley. They also won the entire $50,000 bonus. They took home more than $89,000 for the weekend.
This lesson in history is a great indication of the loyalty that crappie anglers have to the companies that sponsor their tournaments. “This proved to me the sponsor loyalty of Crappie USA anglers, more than anything could have,” concluded Van Vactor.
This year’s CUSA Classic marks the 20th year the trail has been in existence. Officials expect as many as 360 anglers once registration has ended. CUSA Classic anglers will be competing for over $110,000.00 in cash and prizes with first place in each division winning a Ranger Boat with Ranger Trail Trailer, Mercury engine, Minn Kota trolling motor, Humminbird electronics, Talon shallow water anchor and Driftmaster rod holder system.
For more information on Crappie USA visit their Facebook page or their website at www.crappieusa.com.