Ninety-eight teams took to the waters of the Lake of the Ozarks for Crappie Masters One Day National Qualifier and first leg of the Missouri State Championship. The Saturday, April 15th event was sponsored by The Renewable Fuels Association “Ethanol Fueled With Pride”, American Ethanol, Bass Pro Shops, and The Missouri Corn Growers Association.
The 90 plus mile long fishery offers numerous water conditions from relatively shallow and dingier water in the river on the upper end to crystal clear water on the lower end. These conditions allow any and all techniques to be utilized by the anglers.
Brad Ruyle and Reggie Riedinger set their tournament day game plan based on weather forecasts and stuck to it. They were rewarded with the championship. The forecast called for strong winds on tournament day. Ruyle and Riedinger went to the maps and devised a plan to combat the conditions by getting out of the wind fishing washouts that had years of brush in the back of them. They were fishing adjacent to bluff walls to catch 7 weigh-in fish. Their 10.38 pounds were enough to claim the title and the $5,000 check that went along with it!
With a Mercury Motor powered boat, Ruyle and Riedinger found their fish in practice, in large part due ,to their Humminbird electronics and Minn Kota trolling motor. They weeding thru the smaller fish they were marking to identify where the bigger females were and how deep they were. The team then stuck with that strategy with the notion of either hitting a home run or striking out!
The team spider rigged a mix of Ozark and Jenko Rods to catch their fish near the bottom in 6 to 12 feet of water. They were fishing Elite Big Dog Series Jigs their company makes in Orca and Gray Ghost combination tipped with minnows.
The team collected $5,000 dollars for the victory, and also picked up the Missouri Corn Growers Association and American Ethanol bonus of $250 dollars for using E10 fuel in their boat and an additional $100 dollars for using Jenko Rods. Ruyle and Riedinger are sponsored by Elite Jig Company, Midwest Land Sales, and Perotti Rod Holders.
The runner up position went to last year’s champions, Tony Edgar and Travis Lepley, who know the Lake of the Ozarks as well as anyone which was about enough to go back to back, but with 7 fish that weighed 10.09 pounds, they fell just short due in large part due to having a pound and a half fish die in their livewell and having to replace it with a smaller fish.
Edgar and Lepley fished the much clearer water in the Gravois Arm and fished differently than most teams by targeting bigger females in deeper water using their Humminbird Electronics and Minn Kota trolling motor spider rigging shiners on their Ozark Rods in 25 feet of water catching their fish 18 feet down in the water column.
Edgar and Lepley collected $2500.00 for second place and an additional $1105.00 for tying for big crappie of the tournament with a 1.98 pounder that was one of the first fish they caught on the double shiner rigs. Edgar and Lepley are sponsored by Ozark Bait and Tackle, Ranger, Evinrude, Edgarsports.com, Missouri Goldfish Hatchery, Ozark Rods, Minn Kota, Humminbird, The Edgar Jig, and Bug Band.
The third-place slot was filled by the two time reigning Missouri State Championship team of Barry Morrow and Chad Maupin who’s seven fish weighed in at 9.94 pounds. Morrow and Maupin used their Minn Kota trolling Motor and Humminbird electronics to spider rig Ozark Trolling Rods in 8 feet of water, catching their weigh fish 5 feet down on minnows.
Morrow and Maupin collected $1600.00 for their third place finish. The team is sponsored by Pro’s Choice Marine, Beaver Bottom Baits, Everharts Outdoor Store, Huckabee Rods, Puddle Jumpers, Off Shore Tackle, Bobby Garland, Crappietown Baits, Stump Jumper, and Perotti Rod Holders.
Big fish of the tournament as mentioned earlier wound up in a tie with a 1.98 pounder weighed in by the second place team of Tony Edgar and Travis Lepley and the team of Cory Batterson and Dianne Stevens who caught their big fish by using Off Shore Tackle Planer Boards pulling crankbaits. The fish was worth half of the pot, $1105.00, plus an additional $150.00 Off Shore Tackle Company bonus for catching the big fish on their Planer Boards.
The top Male/Female Team Award went to The Green Machine Team of Jackie and Holly Linton who actually finished in 5th place overall. The team won a $100.00 Grizzly Jig Company gift card for their finish as top Male/Female team plus $1100.00 for finishing in fifth place.
Fourth place went to the Ozark Rods Team of David Cox and Steve Hockett with seven fish weighing 9.48 pounds. They took home a check for $1300.00.
The $100.00 Everhart’s Outdoor Store Gift Certificate that is awarded to the top finishing Adult/Youth team went to the father/daughter team of Travis and Keegan Bullock. Ten-year-old Keegan said the best part of fishing the tournament was “getting to fish with my dad”!
Crappie Masters would like to thank The Missouri Corn Growers Association for their long time support as a national sponsor and title sponsor of this tournament!