Crappie Masters, sponsored by The Renewable Fuels Association “Ethanol Fueled With Pride”, American Ethanol, and Bass Pro Shops, Ozark Rods held their One Pole Ultimate Challenge on Lake Fork, Texas, Saturday, April 8. The event lived up to the hype and reputation as a consistent big crappie lake.
Eighty-seven teams from numerous states participated in the tournament based out of Emory, Texas. Teams faced high winds on tournament day which made fishing difficult in many areas on the lake!
Being a one pole, artificial bait only tournament, did benefit most teams as trolling motor and boat control were also a challenge. When the dust settled, Crappie Masters history was made. When the weigh in was complete, there was a tie at the top of the leader board between the eventual winners, Chad Nugent and John Wood and Mr. Crappie, Wally Marshall and Jeff Heuman, both topping the scales with a 7 fish weight of 14.37 pounds.
Crappie Masters rules state that in case of a tie for 1st place, the team that weighs the biggest fish will be ruled the tournament winner. In this case, the biggest fish weighed between both teams, and the biggest fish of the tournament, a huge 3.30-pound Lake Fork giant, was brought to the scale by Nugent and Wood giving them the title!
Nugent and Wood stayed consistent with their strategy going into tournament day catching their fish in 7 to 8 feet of water just off the bottom. They used Top Secret Junebug colored jig fishing with 11-foot rear seat Jenko Hypersense Rods. They credited the rods forgiving them the ability to swing fish in the boat, which helped them maintain boat control. Nugent and Wood also credited their Humminbird electronics and Minn Kota trolling motor as a key to victory.
The only fish the team did net was the huge 3.30-pound crappie they hooked at about 1:30 in the afternoon using the Junebug colored jig. The big fish ran straight away from the boat. Nugent stated that partner Wood had the Jenko net under the fish within seconds, thankfully so, as the hook came out of the fish’s mouth in the net. Side note: Nugent released the trophy to be caught another day following the weigh in!
Nugent and Wood collected $5000.00 for the win, $1218.00 for big fish, and also took home an additional $250.00 for using E-10 fuel in their boat from the Missouri Corn Growers Association and American Ethanol along with a $100.00 Jenko Fishing bonus for winning and using Jenko products! Nugent and Wood are sponsored by Jenko Fishing, Top Secret Baits, and Thomas Construction.
The hard luck, runner up position of second place was filled in by the legendary Wally Marshall “Mr. Crappie”, and longtime partner Jeff Heuman who although tied with Nugent and Wood weight wise, lost on the tiebreaker. Wally and Jeff caught their fish in 10 to 24 feet of water anywhere from 4 to 15 feet deep, and credited patience as a key to catching the bigger fish, and adaptability to move with the fish as the wind increased and the day progressed thanks to use of their Humminbird Helix 12 depth finder.
Their Mercury powered boat, and Minn Kota Trolling Motor were also key in the team’s success! Marshall and Heuman took home a check for $2500.00 for the runner up position! Wally “Mr. Crappie” Marshall and Jeff Heuman are sponsored by Ranger boats, Ford, Lews, Strike King Lure Company, Bullet Weights, Betts, Tempress, Buck Knives, TH Marine, Humminbird, Minn Kota, and Mr. Crappie.
Third place and second big fish of the tournament honors went to the Ozark Rods team of David Cox and Steve Hockett. Cox and Hockett used 10 foot Ozark Rods fishing with a 3 inch Bobby Garland Cajun Cricket jig in 14 to 15 feet of water catching their weigh fish a foot off the bottom using Humminbird electronics and Minn Kota trolling motor along with the team’s Mercury powered Ranger boat. Cox and Hockett also stated they had to be patient for the bite to come. The team took home a check for $1500.00 for their finish and also collected an additional $522.00 for catching the second place big fish of the tournament, an impressive 2.68 pound Lake Fork dandy. Cox and Hockett are sponsored by Ozark Rods, Everharts Outdoor Store, Do-It Molds, and Rod Sox.
Top Male/Female Team honors went to the Green Machine Team of Jackie and Holly Linton who finished in fourth place overall in the tournament and took home $1250.00 for their finish along with a $100.00 Grizzly Jig Certificate for the top Male/Female honors.
Fifth place and winners of $1050.00 was the team of Marty Snider and Jackie Albin.
Top Adult/Youth team honors went to the father-son team of Riley and Reese Rawls who took home a $100.00 Everharts Outdoor Store gift card.