Among anglers in our survey who said they do fish in crappie tournaments, the overwhelming majority said they believe limits should be reduced from the standard seven fish down to five fish.
Survey Results on Lowering Crappie Tournament Limits
by Richard Simms, Editor
In the April Issue of CrappieNOW, we included an editorial opinion written by Bernard Williams, a noted outdoor writer from Jackson, Mississippi. Williams is also the vice-president of the well-known Magnolia Crappie Club.
At the same time, we offered up a survey where CrappieNOW readers could share their opinions on the issue.
Williams argued that, with the dramatic improvements in marine electronics, crappie fishermen – especially tournament anglers – are becoming too efficient. The majority of tournaments these days allow competitors to weigh-in their seven largest crappie. Some tournaments even allow anglers to have more fish in the livewell than they can weigh-in, provided they stay below the state-imposed creel limit.
Williams suggests that needs to change – that crappie tournaments should lower the standard number of fish weighed in to five instead of seven. He also praised tournaments which don’t allow competitors to keep more than the tournament limit in the livewell.
Williams wrote, “Our tournament trail (the Magnolia Crappie Club) averaged 65 teams over our 2020 season. We fished ten regular-season tournaments and a two-day championship tournament. If we weighed five fish instead of seven fish, we would have saved 780 crappie over 12-inches long. Considering 80% or more are female crappie, that is tens of millions of eggs removed for our lakes that could have been saved.”
So, what did our readers think?
Nearly 200 anglers responded to our survey. Of all the respondents, 38 percent said they do NOT fish tournaments while 62 percent said they DO fish in crappie tournaments.
Of all the respondents, a significant 83 percent said they do believe that tournament limits SHOULD be lowered from weighing in seven fish to weighing in only five fish.
When we eliminated the respondents who don’t fish tournaments, only considering those who do fish tournaments… the percentage did not change much.
Of the crappie tournament anglers responding to our survey, 19 percent said limits should NOT be lowered while 81 percent said would like to see tournament limits reduced from seven fish to five fish.
Here are few of the comments from survey participants:
— “I would even suggest a 3-fish limit. One hundred fishers stand in line with seven fish in a small cooler – alive at the beginning but by the end many don’t make it. (They are) the biggest fish out of an area also. (I) love the sport but also always forward-thinking. Just a thought.”
— “I just don’t see the benefit in reducing the creel limit if the biologists tell us that we can catch more than seven and take them home anyway. Sounds like a moot point to me.”
— “I agree there’s no point in 7-fish weighed in and should never have more than the weigh-in max in the boat during tournaments. If the VP of the tournament series can’t get his own tournament down to five fish, probably not much luck getting the others lowered.”
— “It’s kind of childish to go to 5-fish limit without reducing pre-fishing. How many huge crappie are killed in pre-fishing when people from all over come camp on a lake for a week or two before the tournament. Off limits are just as critical as a 5-fish limit. If you don’t believe me, go pre-fish a tournament and watch all the imbeciles catch every huge fish they see on livescope with little-to-no-care for the fish once caught. You clearly don’t need to catch it pre-fishing if you can see it on your livescope and tell its size. My opinion for what it’s worth.”
— “Five fish shouldn’t be a problem. I think the big-name guys should show more pics with the big ones and then letting them go. The more it’s shown the more it becomes the norm.”
— “I wish the rest of the fishing world would get on board with Major League Fishing and put an official in each boat, weigh the fish and let the fish go. Each fish is recorded and uploaded and the top seven weights are your keepers. No fish injured, stressed, or worries about keeping them alive all day in a livewell. I understand this takes lots of electronic equipment, and volunteers but it is the future of fishing and needs to be done asap.”
— “I’m less concerned with the tournament guys than I am about the professional guides. Those guys fish 5-6 days per week and regularly catch full limits. I understand it’s the way they make their living, but it’s got to be hurting the resource. Pictures on social media with tables full of crappie is bringing even more pressure on the lakes from out of staters.”
And finally, we liked this comment:
— “I’ll keep my mouth shut and be thought a fool, rather than open it and confirm it. LOL”