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Thiel and Willis Win The First Tournament Of 2017


st johns 1st trophies 2 An exciting start to the 2017 Crappie Masters Tournament Trail sponsored by The Renewable Fuels Association, American Ethanol, and Bass Pro Shops. No better place to get the year started than in Deland Florida on the historic St. John's River. Weather had been stable the week before the tournament, however tournament week brought multiple cold fronts, wind, and much cooler weather, which played a factor into how angler teams fished. Fifty boats from sixteen states were represented and at the end of the tournament, knowledge of the river and its tributaries played a huge roll in the final outcome. Multiple techniques were used to catch fish with unlikely techniques leading the way to the top of the leaderboard on this two day National Qualifying Tournament on the St. John's River sponsored by the West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority. 



st johns 1st After day one, leading the tournament were the reigning champions, Larry and Steve Durden with a day one weight of 12.79 pounds with what turned out to be the big crappie of the tournament, a whopping 2.41 pound black crappie. Day two saw a change of the standings. The team after day one in second place, Troy Thiel and Ricky Willis came in on Championship Saturday with a 12 pound plus stringer to catapult them to victory with a two day total weight of 23.98 pounds on fourteen fish. Day one leaders Larry and Steve Durden wound up in the runner up position with 21.42 pounds, followed in third place by the team of Don Collins and Rusty Booth with 21.18 pounds. 


The winners were doing something different than other teams. Spending both tournament days fishing around and shooting bridge piers and piling. Other teams were in that area, however not using that technique. Although as the st johns big fish  winners stated, you had to stay with that and commit to it to be successful. Thiel and Willis caught most of their weigh fish letting their Junebug Slabalicous and Sugarbug jigs free fall in 11 to 15 feet of water getting their bite off the bottom. They also used Crappie King Cakes the week prior to the tournament, which played a key role in their victory. Thiel and Willis fished from a Javelin boat with Evinrude motor, Minn Kota Trolling Motor, Humminbird Electronics, on Wally Marshall rods and line. The team won $5,000.00 for the win along with the Missouri Corn Growers Association $500.00 bonus for using E10 fuel in their boat. 


st johns 3rd Reigning champions and leading after day one, Larry and Steve Durden stayed with an old school technique that won last years tournament, and if not losing two good keepers may have won this tournament. They were fishing with one pole using a 16 foot rod using a cork and minnow near pads about 4 feet deep, near the bottom near channel break lines just outside of lily pads. They stated the key was not to be in the pads but just a few feet outside of those as the better female fish are still in transition. The Durden's were in a Tracker Boat, with a Mercury Motor, and locating fish with their Humminbird Electronics and Minn Kota Trolling Motor. The team won $2,500.00 for the runner up position and $700.00 for the big fish of the tournament. 


In third place was the local team of Don Collins and Rusty Booth who moved st johns male female  from 8th to 3rd on Championship Saturday. Collins and Booth caught their tournament fish using a Junebug colored jig about 2 feet down in 6 feet of water near and in pads. They used a Nitro Boat with Mercury Motor, Humminbird Electronics, and a Minn Kota Trolling Motor to stay on their fish.


Second big fish of the tournament was weighed in by the Arkansas team of Bob and Lizabeth Robinson with a nice 2.33 pound crappie that garnered them a check of $300.00.


st johns adult youth The top Male/Female team went to the Mississippi team of Vic Finkley and Kim Gray winning a Grizzly Jig Certificate.


The top Adult/Youth team was won by the team of Scott Broxton and Scott Broxton Jr. The team won a Minn Kota Trolling Motor along with a $100.00 Everhart's Outdoor Store gift card. 


Click HERE for full tournament results. 


Special thanks to local sponsors that include: West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority, Hampton Inn and Suites, Highland Park Fish Camp, Comfort Inn, Shady Oak Bait & Tackle, and Shady Oak Restaurant & Tavern.


Special thanks to our National Sponsors that include: Renewable Fuels Association, American Ethanol, Bass Pro Shops, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, Missouri Corn Growers Association, Humminbird, Minn Kota, Bobby Garland Crappie Baits, Prefish Gear, Power-Pole, Heartland Fish Fry, Ozark Rods, Skinzit, Mercury Motors, Millennium Marine, Off Shore Tackle, Jenko Fishing, Navionics, Spike-It, B’n”M Poles, Tite Lok Rod Holders, Midsouth Tackle, Slider, Crappie Now, Crappieholic, American Angler, Timmy Tom’s Jig Company, Valley Fashions, Crazy Angler, Grizzly Jig Company, Everharts Outdoor Store, Marine Metal Products, Fish-D-Funk, Ardent, Rod Safe, Zeko Shoes, Crappie King Cakes, Lake Fork Trophy Lures, The Original Rod Sox,, Monster Crappie Media and Huffman Publishing, and KMMO Brad & Brian in the Outdoors.