The weather was hot!
Catching fish in numbers was hot!
And with that the shootout was on June 18 and 19 at the Crappie Masters final 2021 National Qualifier Tournament on Truman Lake hosted by Clinton Tourism and sponsored by MidSouth Tackle. 90 teams from across the U.S. took to the warm waters of Truman Lake in search of 14 big Truman slabs while fighting strong winds and mid summer heat plus big fish hard to find.
Slowing down, patience, paying attention to detail, and fishing clean finally paid off for the father/son team of Jon and Mike Gillotte, who came in with a big Crappie Masters Championship Saturday weight jumping from 7th after day one to finally holding up the Champions trophy after the dust settled with a two day 14 fish weight of 23.04 pounds that put them just ahead of day one leaders, Mike Vallentine and Jesse Shoemake, and good for the $10,000 check that went with it.
Jon said on day one they were happy with their 11.09 weight, but knew they needed a kicker
fish on day two to make up the nearly pound gap between them and the leaders. That came with a 1.95 pounder in the boat Saturday morning. One of the key decisions the Gillottes made on day one was making a move from the Osage arm to the Grand arm midday to check the fish size
there and caught a couple of key fish!
One that Mike said was the key to victory when Jon spotted on his graph a big fish on an underwater blown over or fallen over tree limb that many if not most anglers would miss and worked his bait into an area to get the fish to bite, which it did and was boated. After spending time on the Grand, the team decided the best chance to win was spending the entirety of Championship Saturday on the Osage and continuing to search for the fish they needed bringing in nearly 12 pounds on day two.
The Gillottes used minnows and Muddy Water Baits to catch their fish in various depths of water. Jon and Mike Gillotte took home $10,000 for the win and an additional $500 dollar Missouri Corn Merchandising Council/American Ethanol bonus for using E10 fuel in their boat along with a $100 dollar Jenko Fishing bonus, and the $200 dollar HH Rods and Reels bonus for using one of the HH reels.
It was a case of “almost” for day one leaders, Mike Vallentine and Jesse Shoemake who led after day one with 12.07 pounds which included the big fish of the tournament, a 2.78 pound Truman toad and a total weight of 22.40 pounds for the tournament. Unfortunately illness cut the teams fishing hours down substantially on day two, but the team made no excuses, feeling they generally had done about as much as they could have.
Vallentine and Shoemake also had to keep moving to find “tournament” fish including the huge one. They caught the bulk of their fish on a hair jig in open water and some on structure. The
team won $6,000 for second place and $1,260 for big fish of the tournament.
Third place and a $4,000 check went to the team of Jeffery Larch and Jared Fyock who made a jump from 8th to 3rd in the final standings with a two day weight of 22.04 pounds. Like most teams the pair had to cover a lot of water, catching lots of fish, and sorted through them until finding the quality fish they needed, which they did on day two.
Fourth place money went the team of Richard Bowling and Gary Lee who made a massive jump on Crappie Masters Championship Saturday moving from 22nd all the way to 4th on the back of the second big fish of the tournament, a 2.56 dandy which jumped their two day weight all the way up to 21.91 pounds, good for $2,300 plus $540 for second big fish. Bowling stated it all changed for them when they happened upon a tree with four huge fish in it, catching two.
Rounding out the top five was the team of Weylin Shanks and Matt Wareham, who managed a two day limit weighing 21.88 pounds and good for $2,000 after sliding back one spot from day one.
Top male/female team honors went to the Green Machine Team of Jack and Holly Linton who weighed in 20.54 pounds finishing 18th overall. They won a MinnKota Edge trolling motor for that honor and a check for $450 for their 18th place finish.
Top adult/youth team honors went to the team of Brian Young and Diesel Byrd who weighed 19.88 pounds and took home a Humminbird Helix 5 graph.
Big Crappie Masters thanks go out to Clinton Tourism for hosting the tournament, Mid South Tackle for sponsoring the tournament. Crappie Masters would also like to thank Bucksaw Resort and Marina for hosting the weigh in and providing the weigh in facility, and Westbridge Inn
and Suites for serving as a host hotel.