Georgia boys take the top three spots.
Mild weather mixed with wind greeted crappie anglers at the recent Crappie Masters two day event in West Volusia, Florida. Thirty-eight teams from several different states competed for the championship trophies with some heavy bags at the weigh-in. After two days of fishing, the top team weighed more than 28 pounds to take the win. Once again, the St. Johns River proved what an awesome fishery it is.
Ed Stone Park, located just outside DeLand, FL was chosen for the weigh-in site. Many of the teams referred to the St. Johns River as one of the best crappie fisheries they see all year.
Team Williams was crowned Florida State Champions!
Photo courtesy of Crappie Central
Day One Leaders
By the end of day one, it was Billy and Scott Williams taking the lead going into the final day. Team Williams had 14.14 pounds for the day. The second-place team of Mike Nippers and Randy Temples was close behind at 13.51 with a big fish of 2.71 pounds. Brian Davis and Brice Cantey rounded out the top three with 12.50 pounds. The stage was set for a day-two shootout.
The weatherman had forecast rain for day two and rain it did. Competitors were fishing comfortable temperatures but cloudy skies dumped rain on the game. Anglers reported various methods of fishing and all of them worked to some degree.
The eventual winners hung on to their day one spot to win, but second and third place leaders on day one were bumped on day two. When the final crappie was weighed, the top three spots went to members of the Peach State Crappie Club.
First PlacePhoto courtesy of Visit West Volusia
The top spot at the St. Johns River event went to the Georgia team of Billy and Scott Williams. Their two-day total weight of 26.81 pounds earned them the first-place check of $10,000 dollars. They reported doing some one-poling and some long-lining (pulling).
“We were single poling part of the time and pulling some,” said Scott. “We were Livescoping and fishing shallow water. We would pull right next to lily pads where we caught 30-40 fish a day using Hurricane Howard Rods and Skipper’s Jigs. Our best colors were black and chartreuse.”
“The St. Johns River is one of my three most favorite places to fish,” concluded Scott. “They are the St. Johns, the Alabama River, and Grenada.”
Second PlacePhoto courtesy of Crappie Central
The runner-up spot went to Troy Thiel and Jacob Sapp. Also from Georgia, the team brought 24.08 pounds to the scales to earn the $3,000 second-place check. They made a move from 5th place on day one to claim the second spot.
The weather was sunny but cool on day one,” reported Thiel. “The second day had cloudy skies and rain.”
“We used Hurricane Howard pulling rods to long-line troll,” continued Thiel. “We were in 12-15 feet of water where the fish were 6-10 feet deep. We were rigged with blue/chartreuse jigs.”
“The bite was painfully slow except for early mornings,” Thiel said. “The fish were moving around a lot and very hard to pattern. Water temps had dropped 8 degrees with cold fronts. I think it really confused the fish that were ready to spawn. We were able to be mobile and move around during the day and find some active fish.”
“The St. Johns River is the top crappie destination in the Southeast for sure,” concluded Thiel.
Third PlacePhoto courtesy of Crappie Central
Another Georgia team, Jason Little and Craig Chapman moved up from fourth place on day one to claim the third spot on day two. The team brought 23.94 pounds to the scales to earn a check for $1,800. Their bag included second big fish at 2.47 pounds to add $228 to the payout.
The weather was light winds and 74 degrees on day one,” reported Chapman. “Saturday it rained until 11 am. We still light winds but it was cooler at 60 degrees. The water temp was 59-61 both tourney days.”
“Craig and I fished the Astor end of the river both days,” Chapman said. “Troy and Jacob fished the same area fishing the same way. We were pulling double 32nd ounce jigs. The fish were down about 10 feet in 18 feet of water. We used AWD bait and Kalins. The best color was a pink head with blue chartreuse.”
Big fish honors went to Mike Nippers and Randy Temples. They placed ninth overall. Their big St. Johns River slab pulled the scales to 2.71 pounds!
Top Male/Female Team honors went to Jay and Mary Johnson. They weighed in 19.43 pounds.
Top Adult/Youth Team went to Tracy and Matthew Trip with 24.26 pounds.
Rounding out the Top Five
Fourth Place – Brian Davis and Brice Cantey – 23.50 pounds
Fifth Place – William Hinsen and Tommy Slice – 22.41 pounds
Tournament director, Mike Vallentine sent a Crappie Masters thank you to Georgia Carter Turner and all the tourism folks at Visit West Volusia for hosting the tournament. As usual, the St. Johns River produced some nice black crappie.
The next Crappie Masters event will be on February 28th and 29th on Lake D’Arbonne at Farmerville, LA.
For more information on Crappie Masters visit the website at www.crappiemasters.net.
For more information on the St. Johns River at Deland and the surrounding area, visit www.visitwestvolusia.com.