What started as a promising practice week turned into the now customary rainy and windy Championship Saturday at the Crappie Masters sponsored by The Renewable Fuels Association “Ethanol Fueled With Pride”, American Ethanol, and Bass Pro Shops Rend Lake National Qualifier Ozark Rods Open hosted by Ozark Rod Company and Lake Zone Bait and Tackle May, 4th in Whittington, Illinois.
Battling rain, wind, high water, and a rapidly changing fish bite, the 62 teams taking part in the Ozarks Rods Open had numerous challenges to overcome and that fact was not lost on the eventual winning team of Tony Hughes and Bart Gillon who stayed with their game plan avoiding the urge to stray from it and ground out a hard fought victory over a strong field bringing in 7 fish weighing 9.37 pounds. Hughes and Gillon decided to spider rig single Jigs which was a Purple/Sage colored Strike King ShadPole on an 1/8 ounce jig head using B’n’M Poles fishing in 7 to 13 foot of water catching fish close to the bottom. The team took advantage of the numerous electronics they use including Humminbird and a Minn Kota Trolling Motor to hone in on moving fish, and when needed fire up their Mercury Motor to make the move to other fish found in practice. Hughes and Gillon took home $4,000.00 for the win along with an additional $250.00 E10 bonus from the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council and American Ethanol, and will receive $250.00 from Power Pole and their Power Pole Captains Cash program. Tony Hughes and Bart Gillon are sponsored by Rod Safe, Strike King Lure Company, B’n’M Poles, Mr. Crappie, Buck Knives, TH Marine, Rod Sox, and Power Pole.
The beat goes on for the runner up team Matthew and Bruce Rogers who have managed three top five finishes in the three Crappie Masters events they have fished bringing in a Rend Lake 7 fish limit weighing 9.18 pounds taking home $2,000.00 for their days work. The Rogers one poled custom made 1/8 ounce purple and pearl hair jigs in 8 to 18 feet of water catching fish near the bottom. Matthew and Bruce used their Minn Kota Trolling Motor and Mercury Motor to maneuver to the specific areas they targeted. Matthew and Bruce Rogers are sponsored by Garmin Electronics.
Settling into third place was the red hot team of Frank Haidusek and Mark McClure who are on a top ten run of their own and making a strong run at claiming Crappie Masters Angler Team of the Year honors. At Rend Lake Haidusek found quality fish in practice and the team chose to single pole predominantly a June Bug colored Spike-It Jig with Haidusek using an 11 foot HH Rod while McClure chose to go with a 14 foot Ozark Rod with a scattered bite in 9 to 14 foot of water moving frequently and generally upgrading at each stop but lacked the big kicker fish. Haidusek and McClure run a Mercury powered Nitro boat using Humminbird Electronics and Minn Kota Trolling Motor. The team weighed in 9.15 pounds of fish and walked away with $1,400.00 and a great finish in their Crappie Masters Angler Team of the Year quest. Frank Haidusek and Mark McClure are sponsored by HH Rods and Reels, Spike It, Top Secret Jigs, Crappieholic, Ozark Rods, Dietz Family Buffet, and Dairy Queen.
Fourth place went to the always-dangerous team of Paul and Elizabeth Turner who brought 9.03 pounds to the scale and collecting $1,200.00 and keeping them thick in the AOY race.
Rounding out the top 5 was the team of Doug Wynn and Justin Elder who weighed 8.91 pounds taking home $1,050.00 along with an additional $372.00 for the second place big fish of the tournament, a nice 1.57 pound Rend Lake dandy.
Big fish of the tournament was caught by the team of Josh Dudley and Jason Dudley who walked away with $868.00 for their 1.65 pound slab.
Top Male/Female honors went to the Green Machine team of Jackie and Holly Linton who won a new Humminbird Helix 5.
The top Adult/Youth award of a $100.00 Everharts Outdoor Store gift card went to the team of T.J. and Alex Palmer who continue to have good finishes setting them up for a run at the top Adult/Youth Yearly Championship and the HH Rods and Reel Rookie Team of the Year Championship.
Click HERE to download full tournament results.
Special thanks to local sponsors that include: Ozark Rods, Rend Lake Cove Resort, Lake Zone Bait and Tackle, and Rend Lake College
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, Millennium Marine, Muddy Water Baits, Jenko Fishing, Wyld Gear Coolers, Everharts Outdoor Store, HH Rods and Reels, Off Shore Tackle, Navionics, B’n’M Poles, Bobby Garland Crappie Baits, Midsouth Tackle, American Angler, Crappieholic, Frontier Metal, Valley Fashions, Crappie Now, Slider, Lake Fork Trophy Lures, The Original Rod Sox, Marine Metal Products, Timmy Tom’s Jig Company, Crappie.com, Ardent, Fish-D-Funk, Skipper’s Jigs, Foxy Fishing Gear, ProBuilt Jigs, Sure Life, Pautzke Bait Company, Mossback Fish Habitat, Freaky Frank’s Custom Tackle, Fish N Tools, Quickfire, Monster Crappie Media and Huffman Publishing, and KMMO Brad & Brian in the Outdoors.