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The July ICAST show in Las Vegas was another big hit. ICAST is the premier fishing tackle tradeshow held annually. It is the ultimate gathering of people and products associated with the fishing tackle industry where tackle manufacturers introduce their new line of products for the upcoming year.  Myself, along with the Crappie Masters staff, were on hand to assist our current national sponsors with promotion of their products and examining potential new sponsors.

“Congratulations” to Blakemore on the 50th anniversary of the Roadrunner.  While at ICAST I was honored to be invited by Blakemore to attend the reception in celebration of this milestone.  Fishing lures come and go, but for one to endure for 50 years, it goes without saying the Roadrunner is a proven product.  Not to mention the “Tackle Technical Guidance” available from Ron and TJ. Stallings.  I bet you can’t say “Tackle Technical Guidance” five times real fast.

I just returned from competing in the Crappie Masters divisional tournament at Sardis MS where I was paired with Women’s Bassmaster Touring pro angler Susan Gregory as my fishing partner.  Susan and I serve on several pro staffs together and we thought it would be fun to compete together as a team on the Crappie Masters trail.  Even though the heat was almost unbearable, we did manage to catch a few fish and not only qualify for the upcoming Mississippi state championship tournament but also the classic at Reelfoot Lake.  I was very impressed with Susan’s dedication as a pro angler and I know she will be an asset to the Crappie Masters tour as she is with the Women’s Bassmaster Tour.  Thank you to all my fellow crappie anglers who have made her feel welcome.  My wife Lisa has already informed me that now I have a female fishing partner that my team winning percentage has just increased 200 percent.  I don’t know if she meant that as a complement or an insult?

A big “Thank You” to J.D. Huffman and his family for the hospitality in hosting the fish fry at his deer camp at Sardis for the anglers and Crappie Masters staff.  Richard Lindsey demonstrated that he would make someone a good wife someday by cooking all the fish and displaying his talents in the kitchen. Thanks Richard.

Prior to the fish fry on Thursday, a meeting of the Crappie Masters “Angler Advisory Board” was held and many event details were discussed for 2008.  This is one thing that has been very successful within the structure of the Crappie Masters organization and that is the use of the Angler Advisory Board.  Crappie Masters takes the voice of the crappie fisherman very seriously.  I can not stress enough that if you have an idea or thought to better the Crappie Masters trail, get in touch with someone on the board and let’s hear what you have to say.

We have now concluded the final tour stops of the 2007 tournament season with the Mississippi state championship and the Classic at Reelfoot Lake. I found both of these locations offered some unusual challenges to our anglers. While many of us were fighting off the gar on Tunica Lake, Rob and Jeanie Fry were dodging the flying carp. Rod reported a 20 pounder coming aboard their boat and another near miss by a fish around 10 pounds or more. These carp were also a hazard during the classic at Reelfoot being reported by several anglers. These carp seem to react the noise of the outboard motor or the movement of the boat causing them to leap out of the water at heights reported of 10 feet or higher. If anyone knows a lake where 'crappie' will jump in the boat like that please let me know.

Reelfoot Lake also offered its own share of challenges. As for me, those fish at Reelfoot really had me 'stumped'. I know it was a sick joke but I couldn't resist. The low water levels made launching and maneuvering very difficult. Several times during both days of the tournament I would hear the silence broken by the revving up of someone's outboard indicating that their keel had found the center of a stump. Jerry Adams claims to know just how many stumps there really are in Reelfoot Lake after riding in a boat with Ronnie Capps prior to the tournament. By the way, Jerry did a great job as emcee on Saturday during the weigh-in.

Those who were successful during the tournament with catching fish really deserve credit for a job well done. Sometimes just being able to catch fish is not enough. You must be able to recognize the challenges and apply the strategy to overcome these obstacles for success. Many of the anglers recognized this by downsizing with smaller boats more suitable to the shallow waters of Reelfoot. In hindsight, I wish I had done the same. I will be watching the water levels on Reelfoot over the next few months since we will be returning for the spring major tournament there on March 1st of next year.

I promised Joe Miller I would take a minute and repeat his challenge for 2008. Joe has offered a $1,000 purse to be paid out to the best decorated boat participating in the 2008 Crappie Masters Classic boat parade being held on the Harris Chain of Lakes at Taveres, FL in October. Joe is challenging anyone or any sponsor to match his $1,000 offer in an effort to make this event something special for next years Classic.

As we begin the 2008 tournament season, the Angler Advisory Board has committed itself to increasing the Crappie Masters membership. The Crappie Masters staff and many members will be working several sport shows over the winter months in an effort to recruit new members. If every current member would commit themselves to introducing just one new person to crappie fishing we could double the membership. So come on and lets make 2008 the best year ever.


See ya on the trail.

Bill Braswell