Crappie a prize fish for area fishermen — and sometimes quite valuable
By Brent Callicott
Posted: Friday, November 9, 2012 12:00 pm
Tim Blackley of Hornbeak and Jackie VanCleave of Samburg. Those two have tons of experience, especially Vancleave as he has been a fishing and hunting guide on Reelfoot Lake for many years
This week I want to share how tournament crappie fishing has been taken to the next level as well as crappie fishing in general.
In recent weeks, a major Crappie tournament was held on Kentucky and Barkley lakes Crappie USA. I am happy to report that two familiar names in Crappie tournament fishing world won this event, one of which is from right here in Obion County.
On Oct. 27-28, Crappie USA, a professional crappie tour held their prestigious 2012 Cabela’s Crappie USA Classic on the Kentucky/Barkley lakes at the Lake Barkley State Resort Park near Cadiz, Ky. The weather that settled in on both tournament days couldn’t have been any worse, for any kind of fishing. Temperatures dropped nearly 25 degrees, 15-25 MPH winds and waves as high as four feet couldn’t hold back the 171 teams from 18 different states competing for the nearly $108,000 in cash and prizes.
The team of Wade Hendren of McKenzie and Roy Logan of Troy in the Semi-Pro Division took first place with a two-day total weight of 19.18 pounds. Logan and Hendren, known as the Blakemore “Roadrunner” Team, fished in Big Sandy near Paris Landing over manmade cover in 10-12 feet of water fighting high winds and big waves. The team was using live bait to catch over 60 keepers each day earning $40,000 in cash and prizes, including a new Ranger V118 boat with an Evinrude Outboard, Minn Kota trolling motor, Humminbird electronics along with the $1,400 Driftmaster package and $2,000 in cash. Roy is one of this area’s TWRA officers. Congrats guys, we are proud of you.
More on crappie fishing. I was able to spend some quality time with some others who are among some of the best in crappie tournament fishing during the annual Strike King Writers Conference that was held a couple of weeks ago up at Kentucky Lake out of the Paris Landing State Park Marina.
I am lucky to be associated with the best bait company in the fishing industry, Strike King. For many years and basically since the company started back in the late 1960s, it has been known for its bass fishing. Now, Strike King is becoming a major a leader in the crappie fishing industry and continues to grow more and more each and everyday.
Strike King Lure Company continues to grow its national crappie pro staff. It now has a crappie pro staff to match their bass pro staff.
They started out with having Doug Cherry of Halls and Mark Williams of Bells. Then, Strike King expanded and added locals, Tim Blackley of Hornbeak and Jackie VanCleave of Samburg. Those two have tons of experience, especially Vancleave as he has been a fishing and hunting guide on Reelfoot Lake for many years. For the last few years, these two teams have traveled around the country fishing the crappie circuits (Crappie Masters and Crappie USA), also doing crappie fishing seminars in between their tournaments on some off days. Now, Strike King has signed Mr. Crappie himself, Wally Marshall, to head up their crappie pro staff and take their crappie part of the company to the next level. He would be the quarterback, so to speak, on the Crappie National Pro Staff at Strike King.
Marshall has been a true leader and visionary for the niche sport of crappie fishing and has accumulated a number of accomplishments over the past 25 years. He has qualified for 31 crappie championships, earned an angler-of-the-year title in 2002, won the Crappie Classic in 2003 and claimed top prize at the Crappie Masters One-Pole Championship in 2010. Marshall was inducted into the Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame in 2008.
Over the years heas designed a great line of products for today’s crappie anglers from rods and reels to great crappie action videos.
“The collaboration with Wally is a strong statement about how serious we are about the crappie market,” said Strike King vice president of sales and marketing Doug Minor. “When it comes to crappie, there is no name bigger than Mr. Crappie.”
“In the 25 years that I’ve been in the fishing tackle industry, to have the opportunity to work with Strike King and John Barnes ask me to come onboard with Strike King is the absolute pinnacle of my career,” Wally said.
I was able to spend some time with Wally at the recent Writers Conference.
I asked him how he got started and he was quick to say, “My grandparents introduced me to fishing by taking me crappie fishing and back then, we would catch lots of fish and lots for the supper table. Most of the kids aren’t going to fish unless the parents are going to fish so I’m after the parents to get out and fish.”
He also advised that the Internet is a worthwhile way to learn how to crappie fish or just plain fishing and you can do so by visiting his website at www.mrcrappie.com .
“You don’t even have to take kids to the lake, take them to a pond or small stream,” he said. “They already know about the XBox and Wii games so get them out in the nature of the outdoors.”
As for tournament fishing, he said, “I won the first crappie tournament fished in the state of Texas back in 1987 and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
From the TWRA
The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission has announced a change in regulations that will go into effect on March 1, 2013.
Anglers may only use three hooks on each rod — the hooks can be any size, with both single and treble hooks permitted for use. While treble hooks will be legal, it will still be illegal to use three crankbaits on a single cast that are rigged with two hooks each.
Five lures may still be used on Alabama rigs, but only three of them can have hooks. Anglers with three hooks or less on their line will be perfectly legal. Anything more than three hooks will be against the law.
The TFWC has also voted to decrease the minimum length limit for Pickwick’s smallmouth bass from 18 inches to 15 inches. With both Alabama and Mississippi expected to do the same, length regulations will become simpler for Pickwick anglers fishing near state lines.
Also, the TFWC also voted to lower the daily creel limit from 30 to 20 for Kentucky Lake shellcracker.
They also announced a change that will affect many of the catfish anglers who use skipjack herring for bait in the Mid-South. Anglers will now be limited to 100 skipjack per day where there was no creel limit before.
I hope to have more next week on this.
Also, remember that the Obion County Central High School Bass Anglers will be hosting their first hope to be annual Big Buck Contest Nov. 17. Final Flight Outfitters is also a sponsor of this event and where you will bring your bucks to check them in. Cost will be $25.
There will be a rifle and free mount given away. For more information, call 885-2903. Be looking for posters and sign up sheets placed around the area. You can also get a registration form at Union City Marine and Final Flight.
This is a way they are trying to raise funds to help in continuing their high school bass team program. Please get out and support them, they need your help.
Til next week’s column,
Catch Ya On The Water Folks.
Published in The Messenger 11.9.12