FARMERVILLE, LA — When there is $30,000 on the line and the title of Crappie Masters National Champions up for grabs, faulty equipment is the last thing you want! However, in the case of the father/son, HH Rod and Reels team of TJ and Alex Palmer it was exactly what they needed to move up a spot after day one and claim their first Crappie Masters National Championship and a piece of history, becoming the first Adult/Youth team (in the final season they qualify in that division) to take home the crown with a two-day weight of 24.66 pounds.
That weight was good enough to hold off the hard-charging teams of Clay Gann and Todd Froebe along with now past National Champion Eric Cagle, and overtaking day one leaders Richard Bowling and Gary Lee, who eventually slipped to 4th place in the final standings at the 2021 Crappie Masters National Championship.
This tournament was held September 24-25 on Lake D’Arbonne in Farmerville, Louisiana and hosted by the Union Parish Tourist Commission, Union Parish Chamber of Commerce, City of Farmerville, Union Parish Police Jury, and the Louisiana Office of Tourism.
In retrospect, for the team of TJ and Alex Palmer from Missouri, a huge part of their destiny to become National Champions occurred on day one simply because of faulty scales in their boat. The team, like many, struggled to get the bigger fish to bite, covering lots of water to even find them and not having much luck.
That was until 11:36 in the morning on day one when TJ saw what they knew was a huge fish on their graph and got the fish to bite. Immediately, Alex grabbed the net and brought in a huge 2.55-pound crappie, which would eventually become the big fish of the tournament good for an additional $2,000, and be a huge part in the difference between them and the rest of the field.
Knowing how hard the bite had been and what a difference a fish like this would make, the team decided to put their nose to the grindstone and really focus and fish hard paying attention to every detail, which eventually was one of their stated keys to victory.
The Palmers wound up in 2nd place after day one and knew the opportunity was there, however, National Championship Saturday didn’t hold the one kicker fish they wanted and the team frankly thought they had lost the tournament seeing the weights come in ahead of them and what they thought Bowling and Lee had behind them.
Again, their faulty scales were wrong and in the end the team won by .28 pounds narrowly claiming not only the overall Crappie Master National Championship, but also the Adult/Youth National Championship, plus Big Fish of the tournament.
TJ and Alex said they covered nearly 10 miles of water, catching their fish targeting the channel edges and mainly using Alex’s Palmer Custom Baits in the blue and chartreuse single tail tipped with minnows, B’s hair jigs tied by competitor Brandon Threadgill, Muddy Water Baits, and Timmy Tom’s jig heads, all on the HH Rods and Reels Eric Cagle Signature Series Dock Shooter Rods.
The team collected $30,000 for the win, $2,000 for having Big Fish of the tournament, the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council/American Ethanol $2,000 dollar E10 bonus for using E10 fuel, $200 for using HH Rods and Reels, and $100 for catching the big fish on a Timmy Tom’s Jig Head for a total of $34,300, along with numerous prizes for being the top placing adult/youth team, and their first Crappie Masters National Championship.
Finishing a close second was the Texas team of Clay Gann and Todd Froebe with 24.38 pounds taking home $12,000.
Settling in third place was last year’s Crappie Masters National Champion Eric Cagle with a two-day weight of 24.28 pounds, just missing out on another title. Cagle walked away with a check for $6,200.
4th place money went to day one leaders Richard Bowling and Gary Lee, who never found the big fish they needed on day two to seal the deal on their first National Championship after coming close in previous years, yet still took home $5,000 with a weight of 24.09 pounds.
Rounding out the top 5 was the team of Wes Barmore and Mark Theodus, who were the first team to sit in the Millennium Marine Hot Seats based on a two-day weight of 23.84 pounds and $4,400.
Crappie Masters 2021 Male/Female National Champions honors went to the Bass Tank team of Richard and Ashley Faulk from Oklahoma.
A new addition to this year’s National Championship came compliments of some outstanding local businesses who put up $1,000 cash prizes for teams that finished in 40th, 50th, 60th, and 75th place along with a $500 dollar prize for the team that placed 100th out of the 139 that took part. A huge thanks to the businesses who contributed to this great incentive:
- K & M Coffee, Corks, and Camo
- Weigh In site, Rhett’s Tails and Shells
- Ludwig Marine
- Origin Bank
- Cooter’s Bait and Tackle
Crappie Masters would like to thank all the local sponsors for making the 2021 National Championship one for the record books, and can’t wait to be back on Lake D’Arbonne in Farmerville, Louisiana in 2022.