What many thought was a forgone conclusion came to fruition as Hayden and Dan Jeffries put a stamp on a record-setting year by claiming the title of 2022 Crappie Masters National Champions (and the $30,000 top prize along with it) at the 2022 Crappie Masters National Championship on September 23rd and 24th at Grenada Lake hosted by Grenada Tourism.
The team went wire to wire, leading after day one with an impressive 17.18 pounds of fish. Still, with two teams that know Grenada Lake as well as anyone–Jeremy Aldridge and John Harrison and Blake Cook–both within a pound of the lead, the Jeffries knew they would have to have a strong Championship Saturday to secure the victory.
They did exactly that by backing up day one with a 16.57-pound stringer on Championship Saturday, taking their two-day total to 33.75 pounds, which outdistanced the field by over 3 pounds.
Hayden said he basically focused on two “zones” to fish and when one was not producing he tried the other, waiting for the fish in his primary location to come up off the bottom. He also stated when they did the fish would bite, especially on day one when the bite was early.
The Jeffries team (as well as the entire field) had to battle and attempt to overcome a strong day one wind that wasn’t a factor during practice, and it took many teams out of the running by not being able to fish their familiar spots.
Championship Saturday brought a complete weather change as the wind was calm, opening the lake for everyone to fish their primary locations again. The morning bite also changed for the Jeffries as the fish were not up and they struggled early on in the day. However, Hayden, being confident those fish at some point would move off the bottom, kept coming back and as fate would have it, the team caught their primary fish off the bottom and the rest was Crappie Masters National Championship history.
Hayden used a jig and minnows both days to catch his fish and said the key to victory was his extreme attention to detail and dissecting as well as learning from every bite. That led to the team’s 13th tournament victory this year, and the biggest one there is now, owning the title of 2022 Crappie Masters National Champions.
The 2nd and 3rd place teams from day one flip-flopped on day two, with the runner-up position taken by Blake Cook, who wound up with a two-day weight of 30.69 pounds, good enough for a $12,000 payday.
Cook had basically found the same fish that the Jeffries had but chose not to crowd into the area and jeopardize both teams’ chances to win. He decided to make a long and strategic run up the Skuna arm, where he knew quality fish were, including the 3.00-pound kicker fish that kept him in that location.
There were good and bad with that decision for Cook. If he made the long and slow trip into that area and the fish weren’t there, there was no way to come back out and make a second trip in. Cook stated that he basically put all his eggs in one basket and in the end fell just short. He caught all of his fish in water less than 5 feet on jigs tipped with a minnow.
Third place went to another local team with intimate knowledge of Grenada Lake, Jeremy Aldridge and John Harrison, who walked away with $6,200 thanks to their two-day weight of 30.54 pounds.
The team stated their day one fish were simply gone and on Saturday struggled to find the 7 fish they needed to compete for the win. Aldridge and Harrison simply couldn’t upgrade two fish that likely would have kept them in their 2nd-place position after day one. They also caught the bulk of their fish in very shallow water, generally no deeper than 5 feet.
A big day two moved the Missouri team of Jon and Mike Gillotte from 9th after day one all the way up 4th place at the end of the tournament with extensive time in the Millennium Marine Hot Seats along with a nice $5,000 check.
Jon said he tried fishing shallow, which he admitted he is not comfortable with, so he made the decision to go to 20-foot water where they found quality fish. The Gillotte team had a two-day weight of 29.94 pounds.
Rounding out the top 5 was the formidable team of Dustin Harris and Kelley Graham, who moved up one spot on Championship Saturday with a two-day weight of 29.49 pounds and took home a $4,400 check.
Big fish honors went to Lamar Bunting, who made sure Grenada was still home of the 3-pounder even in the fall with a 3.10 monster that won him the CarZone USA Big Fish $2,000 bonus. Lamar said that he just happened to turn the trolling motor at the right spot at the right time and there she was, happy to bite.
The 2022 Male/Female National Champions are Richard and Ashley Faulk who, along with that honor, took home a Humminbird Helix 7.
The 2022 Adult/Youth National Champions are Trey and Tucker Underwood, who also won a Humminbird Helix 7 with a top 30 finish.
Angler of the Year + More
Not only was a National Championship on the line, but Crappie Masters Angler of the Year honors were on the line as well this weekend. History was made as Matthew and Bruce Rogers once again took that title home! It was their 3rd time in 4 years winning the prestigious and hard-to-win honor. The Rogers team won $7,500 for their historic season.
2nd place in the Angler of the Year race went to Lamar Bunting, who thanks to a strong showing in the National Championship, jumped to the runner-up spot, winning $5,000 for a great year.
Rounding out the top 3 in the Angler of the Year race was the Texas team of Jordan Sanders and Jason Holleman, who had a phenomenal first year on the trail and won $4,000 for their effort.
The Male/Female Angler Team of the Year honors went to Richard and Ashley Faulk who won an additional $1,000.
The Adult/Youth Angler Team of the Year is Trey and Tucker Underwood who also took home a $1,000 prize.
It was a highly contested HH Rods Rookie Team of the Year race this year, and it came down to where teams finished in the National Championship. When the dust settled, the HH Rods Rookie Team of the Year honors went to Hayden and Dan Jeffries who won $1,500. In 2nd place, winning $1,000 were Jordan Sanders and Jason Holleman, and rounding out the top 3 with a late run was the team of Ethan Decker and David Harley who picked up a $500 prize.
Crappie Masters would like to thank the Grenada Tourism Commission for their support in making this a Crappie Masters National Championship for the ages.
Crappie Masters would also like to thank all the anglers as well as the local and national sponsors for making 2022 such a huge success and we look forward to seeing all of you in 2023!
Fantasy Fishing Results
In the final fantasy contest of the season, it was Magnoliacrappieclub.com who got the win with a very impressive 816.02 points. The best possible score in Fantasy Fishing this week would have been 878.82 points.
You can click here to see the full Fantasy Fishing results from the Bracket Showdown.
On the overall season Leaderboard, Sword Fighters is your 2022 Fantasy Fishing Champion with a total of 5,766.14 points over the eight tournaments. Click here to see the Fantasy Fishing 2022 Standings.