Tennessee husband and wife team of Paul and Elizabeth Turner, the reigning Crappie Masters Male/Female Angler Team of the Year, went wire to wire to win their first Crappie Masters tournament sponsored by The Renewable Fuels Association "Ethanol Fueled With Pride", American Ethanol, and Bass Pro Shops, tournament, in turn claiming the Louisiana State Championship at the Lake D'Arbonne National Qualifier Louisiana State Championship sponsored by Spike It in Farmerville, Louisiana. The tournament was also sponsored on a local level by the Union Parish Tourist Commission, the Union Parish Chamber of Commerce, and the Ruston-Lincoln CVB.
Lake D'Arbonne had seen a lot of changes since last years tournament with a large draw down on the lake and a totally different winter weather pattern that held true during tournament week for prefishing with warm summer like weather followed by rain, wind and a cold front that dropped temperatures dramatically through the week, an eerie prelude to the tournament days themselves. Prefishing also told the tournament story with fish in a spring and spawn transition with some still relating to channels, some moving into feeder creeks, and some already moving up on flats. Finding a consistent quality tournament fish bite was hard to establish, but as we've seen, some teams find those potential winning fish. Day one of the tournament saw near record warm temperatures and strong winds, which did not allow many of the ninety-six teams from fourteen states to fish the areas they wanted. However well over half of the participating teams weighed in their seven fish limit being led by Paul and Elizabeth Turner topping the scales with an impressive 13.24 pounds, just ahead of the team of Dustin Harris and Kelley Graham weighing in a 13.07 pound stringer. Rounding out the top three was the Missouri Corn Grower Association/American Ethanol team of Kevin Jones and Billy Don Surface weighing 12.42 pounds.
Championship Saturday became a true champions challenge as overnight saw a massive cold front with a twenty five degree plus temperature drop and strong north winds to greet the anglers. This took some of the contending teams away from their patterns and fish, but allowed some to be able to fish areas they found prefishing with quality fish they could not on day one due to the south wind. While some teams thrived bringing in much larger weights on day two, others floundered and fell back in the final standings. The team making a huge leap on Championship Saturday was the team of Brad Chappell and Brandon Fulgham who started the day in twelfth place after weighing in 11.88 pounds on day one, but put the second biggest seven fish weight of tournament, on the scale weighing 13.51 pounds, vaulting them all the way to a Championship total of 25.39 pounds. That put the team in the Ozark Rods/Millennium Marine Hot Seats first where they would remain until the final team, day one leaders, Paul and Elizabeth Turner put their fish on the scales. Although not as heavy as day one, the husband wife team weighed just enough to seal their first Crappie Masters tournament win with a two day total weight of 26.02 pounds giving them the Louisiana State Championship on Lake
The Crappieholic team caught their tournament winning fish spider rigging minnows on Jenko Rods in 12 to 13 feet of water fishing the bottom both days. The team also credited their Humminbird Electronics for finding the fish and Minn Kota Trolling Motor for keeping them on the fish in high wind conditions. The Turners received $7,000.00 for the victory, along with taking home an additional $500.00 Missouri Corn Grower Association/American Ethanol bonus for using E10 fuel in their boat, along with claiming a $100.00 bonus for using Jenko Rods for a total of $7,600.00 Congratulations to Paul and Elizabeth Turner on their first victory!
The runner up position was held down by the Bobby Garland, Tite-Lok team of Brad Chappell and Brandon Fulgham who weighed in 25.39 pounds. The team caught their fish long-line trolling black and chartreuse Bobby Garland Stroll-R's near the bottom in 10 to 15 feet of water with their Minn Kota Trolling Motor and Mercury Motor at around 1 mph. The team took home $3,500.00 for their second place finish.
Finishing in the third position where they started Championship Saturday was the Missouri Corn Growers Association/American Ethanol team of Kevin Jones and Billy Don Surface who weighed in a tournament total of 24.94 pounds. The team spent tournament days spider rigging their Ozark Rods barely moving at .01 mph in 10 to 12 feet of water near the bottom using electric chicken colored jigs and minnows, relying on their Humminbird Electronics, Minn Kota Trolling Motor, and Mercury Motor to get them to their fish, and to keep them there, also Tite-Lok Rod Holders to allow their rods to stay secure and in place. The team also stated a big key to their success was being able to fish their number one area thanks to the Saturday wind change. Jones and Surface cashed in $2,400.00 for their third place finish.
Rounding out the top five were the teams of Dustin Harris and Kelley Graham and Edward and Scottie Shawn who tied in the fourth position weighing in 24.80 pounds with both teams taking home $1,800.00 for their effort.
Big fish of the Lake D'Arbonne Louisiana State Championship sponsored by Spike It was weighed in on day two by
Charlie Fitzgerald and Josh Passon who also weighed in the largest seven fish stringer of the tournament, a whopping 13.85 pounds buoyed by the big fish, a 2.37 D'Arbonne giant. That fish was good enough to claim the $1,344.00 dollar big fish prize, two pair of Zeko shoes, and help vault them all the way from thirty sixth place after day one, to a twelfth place finish and the $900.00 that accompanied that position.
Second big fish was weighed in by the team of Shannon Porter and Kelly Billsborough, a nice 2.29 pounder, good enough to take home $576.00.
Winning the Adult/Youth division was the team of Junior Dye and Gage Lowery with 19.03 pounds. They took home a Minn Kota Trolling Motor and a $100.00 Everhart’s Sporting Goods gift card.
Click HERE for full tournament Results.
Special thanks to local sponsors that include: Union Parish Tourist Commission, Farmerville Chamber of Commerce, Ruston Lincoln Parish CVB, D'Arbonne Pointe, Days Inn, Comfort Inn, Lake D'Arbonne State Park, Z 107.5, and Taterbugs.
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, Crappie.com, Monster Crappie Media and Huffman Publishing, and KMMO Brad & Brian in the Outdoors.