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Buntings Escape With Narrow Victory At Washington

In what turned out to be one of the best days of the week weather wise until the last half hour of tournament day when thunderstorms arrived, the Power Pole team of Charlie and Travis Bunting notched another, this time narrow, victory on Lake Washington Saturday, March 10 near Greenville, Mississippi at the Crappie Masters sponsored by The Renewable Fuels Association "Ethanol Fueled With Pride", American Ethanol, and Bass Pro Shops Lake Washington One Day National Qualifier and First Leg of the Mississippi State Championship hosted by the Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Due to flooding and dangerous conditions on the Mississippi River, other lakes scheduled to be available to anglers were deleted for safety reasons leaving only Lake Washington for the nearly 140 anglers from around the country to see who could figure out where the bigger fish were located. With a minuscule .02 of a pound to spare, the Buntings edged out the eventual second place team of Barry Morrow and Chad Maupin totaling a 7 fish weight of 13.94 to 13.92 for Morrow and Maupin. Charlie pre-fished alone all week identifying quality fish in numerous spots and as the best pro's do, left those fish alone other than to scout them until tournament day. Travis arrived late Friday night, but also being a seasoned pro, and especially proficient on the teams Humminbird Electronics and MinnKota Trolling Motor, knew exactly how to use the information his father had learned during the week. With a pair of 2 pound plus fish in the livewell early, the Buntings were well on their way to another of their numerous tournament victories. Travis stated one key to victory was not giving up on a location they fished earlier in the day with no success and making one more push through that area later in the day and taking 3 of their weigh fish within the last hour of fishing. Charlie also gave credit to having Power Poles to adjust to the desired speed the fish wanted, along with keeping their boat steady. Charlie and Travis started spider rigging their typical double rigs, Muddy Water Baits on the bottom hook and straight minnow on the top hook in 4 to 5 feet of water, but quickly found out that due to recent rainy and cooler weather, the fish had backed out to water in the 7 to 8 foot range catching the better fish 4 feet deep on the orange/glow color Travis makes, using 16 foot B’n’M BGJP Poles. The Buntings took home $4,000.00 for the win, an additional $250.00 Missouri Corn Growers Association bonus for using E10 fuel in their Mercury Motor, along with a $100.00 Jenko bonus by getting their fish in the boat with a Jenko net, and an extra $250.00 for being in the Power Pole Captains Cash Program. Charlie and Travis Bunting are sponsored by Power Pole, B n M Poles, Balzout, Off Shore Tackle, Muddy Water Baits, Dub-L-Seat, Missouri Goldfish Hatchery, Pro's Choice Marine, Humminbird, MinnKota, Ranger Boats, Mercury Motors, and Engel Coolers.

In what has to be classified as a heartbreaker, the Missouri team of Barry Morrow and Chad Maupin finished in 2nd place just a mere .02 behind the Buntings with 7 fish that weighed 13.92 pounds and in the end cost the team $2,000.00, the difference in first and second place money. Morrow and Maupin also one of the best teams in the country, also targeted fish in 5 to 7 feet of water and like the Buntings, caught their better fish 3 to 4 feet deep spider rigging plastics including Bobby Garland 3 inch Slab Slayers on B’n’M 16 foot Trolling Poles. Morrow and Maupin took advantage of their Humminbird Electronics and MinnKota Trolling Motor to stay on and identify what turned out to be scattered fish. Maupin said the team wouldn't do anything different than they did tournament day other than to have one of their 7 fish weigh .03 hundredths more. Morrow and Maupin didn't go home empty handed however, taking home a $2,000.00 check for their efforts. Morrow and Maupin are sponsored by Off Shore Tackle, Pro's Choice Marine, Beaver Bottom Baits, Bobby Garland, Puddle Jumper, Stump Jumper, Crappietown Baits, Huckabee Rods, and B’n’M Trolling Rods.

Settling into 3rd place for the second time this season was the Navionics and Off Shore Tackle team of Tommy Skarlis and Mike Baker who tipped the scale with 7 fish weighing 13.25 pounds good for the 3rd place prize money of $1,200.00. Skarlis and Baker employed the same strategy Skarlis used to claim a Crappie Masters National Championship, pulling crankbaits behind Off Shore Tackle Planer Boards in 8 to 15 feet of water catching fishing at a 4 to 5 foot depth, which seemed to be consistent with the top teams.  A couple of interesting notes from Skarlis were that all of their fish came on the outside lines, of course farthest from the boat which Skarlis attributed to the fish being higher in the water column and not spooking them. Another note of interest was although the team could use 8 Rods, they chose to use only 6. When asked why that strategy, in true Tommy Skarlis fashion said, "I'd rather pull 6 planer boards correctly than 8 incorrectly”, which turned out to be a wise decision landing them in third position and positioning the team for a strong run at Angler Team of the Year honors. Tommy Skarlis and Mike Baker are sponsored by Off Shore Tackle, Navionics, Ranger Boats, Raymarine, Do-It Molds, Power Pole, Awesome Crappie, Awesome Walleye, Optima Batteries, Hutch Tackle, Grizzly Coolers, Whitetail-R, Fish On Rod Holders, Smooth Moves Seat Mounts, Gemini Jersey, Worldwide Marine Insurance, and Blackfish Apparel.

Top Male/Female team honors and the Humminbird Helix 5 prize went to the eventual 4th place team of Jerry and Debbie Gross who also took home a $1,000.00 check for their 4th place finish.

In 5th place was the team of James Callaway and Charles Stell. Callaway and Stell weighed in 13.16 pounds and earned a check for $850.00.

The $100.00 Everharts Outdoor Store gift card for the top placing Adult/Youth team went to the 8th place team of Jason and Parker Eichwurtzle who won additional $500.00 for finishing in 8th place.

Big Fish honors went to the team of Greg London and Lamar Bunting who caught a midday 2.55 pound Lake Washington dandy. That fish garnered the team a check for $966.00!

Download full tournament results HERE.

Crappie Masters would like to say a special thanks to Mike Jones who works tirelessly from hosting the kids rodeo, to feeding the Anglers, helping to make sure the tournament happens, and much more. Crappie Masters would also like to thank the Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau along with all the local sponsors for bringing Crappie Masters to Washington County and the area.

Next up on the Crappie Masters Tournament Trail is the home of the 3 Pounder, Grenada Lake on March 23rd and 24th. For information go to and on Facebook.

Special thanks to local sponsors that include: Greenville/Washington County Mississippi Tourism and Visitors Bureau, Greenville Inn & Suites, Hampton Inn, Harlow's Casino Resort & Spa, Southern Stars RV Park and Cabins, Bait N Thangs Bait Shop, Pecan Grove RV Park, Roy's Store/Cabins/RV Park/Campground, South Shore Cottages, Days Inn, Trop Casino, CCA Properties, Wdms 100.7, Cajun Shotgun House & BBQ, Sherman's Restaurant, Garfields Restaurant & Pub, and Cicero's Restaurant. 

Special thanks to our National Sponsors that include: Renewable Fuels Association, American Ethanol, Bass Pro Shops, Missouri Corn Growers Association, Humminbird, Minn Kota, Ozark Rods, Mercury Motors, Power-Pole, Jenko Fishing, Millennium Marine, Bobby Garland Crappie Baits, Off Shore Tackle, B’n'M Poles, Navionics, Spike-It, On This Side Catering, American Angler, Tite-Lok Rod Holders, Midsouth Tackle, Slider, Honey Hole Outdoors, Crappie Now, Crappieholic, Timmy Tom’s Jig Company, Marine Metal Products, Valley Fashions, Grizzly Jig Company, Everharts Outdoor Store, ProBuilt Jigs, Lake Fork Trophy Lures, The Original Rod Sox, Fish-D-Funk, Ardent, Crazy Angler, Skipper’s Jigs, Denali Rods, Foxy Fishing Gear, HH Rods, Rod Safe,, Monster Crappie Media and Huffman Publishing, and KMMO Brad & Brian in the Outdoors.