by Tim Huffman
It took crappie that AVERAGED 2.2 pounds to win the Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters’ 2019 National Championship
Weigh-ins are more exciting when weights are close. Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters’ 2019 National Championship, held September 26-27 on Mississippi’s Lake Grenada, was full of excitement with first and second place being only 13-hundreths of a pound difference. The field included 145 teams who had qualified during the year.
Robert Carlile and Craig Nichols took top honors. The team had a hot streak this year winning three regular season tournaments, a huge and rare accomplishment. They weighed 14 fish in the two-day event for 31.97 pounds. They had a 2.85 kicker that was second big fish of the tournament. The team won $25,000 plus incentives worth over $2000, and big fish at $1000.
The team started in second place on day two but the bite on day two was much slower. The team single-pole fished, like they had all year long, even though Grenada is known as a spider rigging lake.
“We were fishing flats and depressions,” says Nichols. “I was using a minnow rig and my partner was using a jig, opposite of what we normally do. Due to the high water, the fish were above the Greysport Bridge.”
“We use Todd Huckabee Power Crappie Poles with a stiff backbone so we can swing crappie into the boat. We hate trying to use a net. We lost the biggest fish of the week on the last day of the tournament because we tried to net it. We knew it was at least three pounds. We use 12-pound test line, Bonehead and Big Bite Baits, and Robert had found a curlytail jig that worked great down here. The fish were hammering the curlytail.
The team found the bite to be aggressive early each day but slowed down during the day. They use Garmin Live Scope to find and follow fish. At times, they would follow a fish over 200 yards before getting it into position to pitch to the fish.
“We usually catch over 80 percent of the fish we find,” says Nichols, “but the fish were so spooky here at Grenada due to the pressure. Probably 60 percent of our fish ran away from us this tournament. We stayed in nine to 13 feet of water, sometimes a little deeper. Fish were up at two to four feet in the morning but down to six to nine later in the day. Again, the fishing pressure really had them skittish. The second day we probably had 20 boats within a quarter mile.”
Carlile says, “I can’t put into words what this means to us. We’ve spent so much time fishing and a lot of time away from home. We put in 60-plus hours in when we pre-fish the tournaments. We’ve had a lot of success this year and enjoyed fishing, but we never dreamed we would have a National Championship. Feelings just can’t be put into words.”
Three regular season wins, second place in Angler Team of the Year race and first place in the National Championship was truly a record year.
Second place were Matthew and Bruce Rogers, a father-son team. Matthew was half of last year’s Championship team. Also, the father-son duo won the 2019 Angler Team of the Year Award. They had 31.84 pounds to earn them $10,000. Similar to the first-place team, they fished above the bridge and chased crappie with their electronics.
Bruce Rogers says, “We were on good fish both days, but we did lose one the first day that looked like it was three pounds. It came off a few inches before we got the net under it. That made the difference in not winning.
“Matthew is really good with Live Scope, using his trolling motor and getting a bait in front of them. He chases them down. Finding a fish on a tree is easy, but finding one in open water and chasing is totally different. We were lucky to get two upgrade fish the final fifteen minutes of the final day that gave us a shot.”
The team was fishing depressions on the flats, not paying attention to wood. They were happy with their decisions that are so important in winning, but they just needed to net the big one that got away.
Male-female champs were David and Kim Cox, who slow trolled. Adult-youth winners were Gerald and Beth Ann Overstreet. Big fish went to Jerry McCready and eight-year-old, Jake Hood, with a 2.86-pound slab.
Classic Top 10
- 97 Roger Carlile-Craig Nichols
- 84 Matthew & Bruce Rogers
- 21 Richard Bowling-Garry Lee
- 42 Joey Johnson-Chris Coffman
- 50 Eric Cagle-Wade McDonald
- 08 Baylor & Trevor Mead
- 93 Marty Snider-Jackie Albin
- 37 F. Haidusek-Mark McClure
- 77 Robert Ward-Ken Kemp
- 18 Jason & Sam Sandage
- 18 T Underwood-S Porter