by Tim Huffman
June 15-16. Truman Lake, MO.
“This tournament,” says Crappie Masters President, Mike Vallentine, “is special in many ways. First, it’s a good jigging lake. It’s full of visible and invisible cover. Crappie relate to it. It’s also one of our two, one-pole tournaments, so it’s important for anyone wanting to do well in the points race. The tournament itself is unique because it puts everyone on a level playing field. Jig fishermen are not competing against spider riggers. It’s not jigs against minnows. It’s everyone using one pole and artificial baits. Numbers don’t lie and they show this tournament is very popular each year with our fishermen.
Truman Lake is best known for two things. First, it’s among the top three vertical jigging lakes in the country. Two, it’s one of the few lakes that gets better as the temperature gets hotter. Crappie Masters has combined the two elements for an annual one-pole, artificial bait only tournament.
“The bite was great here early last week,” was the first thing I heard when arriving. “They shut down. The fishing should be great right now but it isn’t.” The truth was that even though the bite had slowed, some fishermen were still catching a few good crappie, but work, time, effort and a little luck was required to catch them.
A 105-boat tournament is big for today’s national crappie tournaments. Crappie Masters holding a one-pole event at Truman has proven to be a favorite of many competitive fishermen. The top five places paid a total of over $20,000 in cash, prizes and bonuses.
The tournament was not for the weak. Temperatures reached the low to mid-90s with a heat index reaching three digits. Water temperature was 83 degrees with water moderate to murky, clearing slightly each day. Another major factor was fluctuating water levels.
Part of a photographer’s job when covering a tournament is to get on the water to get action shots of teams catching fish. Our first team included twenty minutes of waiting but no fish was caught. We repeated that scenario, for less time, with several other teams. The bite was s-l-o-w. We got two good shots and seen a few other crappie caught, but to say the teams had to work for their fish was an understatement.
The team of Barry Morrow and Chad Maupin took the lead on day one and repeated on day two to win the prestigious tournament. They have been in the winner’s circle before and continue to prove their abilities.
Day one, Morrow/Maupin weighed 10.13 pounds to take a narrow lead. They caught their fish late in the day. Day two proved to be different but eased the pressure when the fish came early. They had a two-day total of 20.91 pounds.
Several things led to the win including downsizing baits and using their Humminbird Electronics and MinnKota trolling motor. The electronics allowed them to target fish while the trolling motor allowed them to stay in one spot, on one tree, as long as necessary. Underwater, non-visible structure was a key part of their cover they fished. Their crappie came from five to eight feet of water catching fish near the bottom. Baits included Beaver Bottom Truman Tornado, Bobby Garland Baby Shad and MidSouth Tackle’s Wyatt’s Blue Magic Tube.
The team took home $8,400 for the win, plus numerous sponsor bonuses of around $1500.
Matt Beckman and Jeff Lewis weighed 14 fish totaling 19.49 pounds for $4,200 second place earnings. They targeted the same big fish areas where they fish in every tournament on Truman Lake. They said being in the right place at the right time was critical. They made several trips back to spots the believed held quality fish. Electronics was a major factor with the quality bite being at eight feet on a black-chartreuse Muddy Water Bait on a 1/8-ounce Pro Built Jighead.
Third place was David Cox and Steve Hockett with 19.38 pounds winning $2,800. They fished black-chartreuse jigs in eight to ten feet of water.
Big fish went to Ryan and Howard German who had a horrible day one on Friday so set their goal for big fish on Saturday. It paid off with a 2.51 giant, their only fish, paying $1,470.
Winning weights were very good. However, to see what fishing was really like it’s best to look at the middle of the tournament field. That middle-of-the-pack team had only 12.46 pounds. Also, 46 of the last 48 teams could not catch 14 fish to weigh in during the two days. Fishing was tough.
A huge “Thank you” to Barry Morrow and Chad Nugent, who allowed me to share their boats while they were prefishing for the Truman tournament. You’ll read more about them in CrappieNow Magazine and Crappie Masters Magazine in the future. And thanks to Crappie Masters President, Mike Vallentine, for running me around Truman, and other lakes on the trail, so I can shoot photos of the fishermen in action.
Visit Crappie Masters at www.crappiemasters.net
Truman One-Pole Ultimate Challenge
20.91 Barry Morrow/Chad Maupin
19.49 Matt Beckman/Jeff Lewis
19.38 David Cox/Steve Hockett
19.09 Rich Campbell/Travis Stevens
18.86 Tony Niemeyer/Levi Irwin
18.13 Rick Koll/Steve Ingram
18.13 George Ryberg/John Rice
17.70 Richard Bowling/Gary Lee
17.70 David Townsend/D Johnston
17.64 Tony Burnworth/R Searcy