After 4 months of the deer hunting grind, February is a month I look forward to. I need a change of scenery and there is nowhere better than being on one of our local bodies of water with a 12’ jig pole.
Yes, I’m a crappie fisherman. Why? Because we have one of the best crappie lakes in the country in our backyard – Lake D’Arbonne. I grew up just a few miles from the nearest boat ramp. As a kid, my friends and I would run yo-yos and have an absolute blast. As I got older, my father bought a boat and the addiction began.
I’ve always been a competitive guy. Doesn’t matter the sport or contest, I want to win. About 10 years ago, I heard there was a national crappie trail coming to D’Arbonne and decided to fish it. I had no clue about tournament fishing but knew I could catch fish. Long story short, myself and Neal Carter fished it and finished in the top 10. We got some nice prizes and qualified for the national championship on Kentucky Lake. We made the drive to Kentucky Lake and well… let’s just say we got humbled quick.
This fueled my fire however, and I wanted to keep competing. Luckily, that first tournament put D’Arbonne on the map and it is now a destination for all national tournament trails. I’ve fished in them every year and have had some great finishes. I’ve had a few different partners but none better than my current Crappie Masters partner, Anders. We were able to win the adult/youth division last year on D’Arbonne, edging out around 100 teams in the field.
This year is jam packed with every single national trail coming to the lake in the next 2 months. Crappie USA will be here February 19th. Anders is playing baseball for his 4th grade team every Saturday, so I will be teaming up with Jason Thomas to fish that event. The following weekend February 25-26, Crappie Masters is coming back to town. I asked Anders if he wanted to fish or play baseball for their last weekend, and he didn’t hesitate and chose fishing. We have a title to defend and I’m looking forward to it. Lastly, the American Crappie Trail is having their National Championship on D’Arbonne the last weekend in March. I will be fishing that one with my buddy Josh Starkey.
The popularity of just this one lake has enormous economic benefits for Lincoln and Union Parishes. Most of the trails bring upwards of 100 teams for each tournament. Most teams are here for a week practicing and when you add up lodging, fuel, tackle, food and other expenses, it has a significant economic impact for our area. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are pumped into our local economy each tournament.
A common theme from the out-of-town anglers is that our area has the best hospitality, food, and fishing. Even though that is something I knew already, hearing it makes me incredibly proud. I urge every one of you reading this to come out to the weigh-ins, to not only support the great local teams we have, but for the teams who traveled hundreds of miles to come to our area.
We have some of the best crappie fisherman in the country living right here. Odds are that you know many of them and I know they would love to have you come out and cheer them on at the weigh in. I can personally attest to how much it means when the audience cheers and claps when we walk on stage. The weigh in location for all the upcoming tournaments will be at Rhett’s Tails and Shells on the lake and I hope to see you there!
Dusty McGehee is a native of Downsville and a 2006 graduate of Louisiana Tech University with a bachelors in wildlife conservation. He is currently employed by WestRock and serves as an environmental engineer at the Hodge Mill. Dusty is an avid hunter and crappie fisherman, fishing crappie tournaments with his son when he is not in the woods. He and his wife Rachel have three young outdoorsmen/women: Anders (9), Ridge (7) and Mae (5). If you have a story idea or question about the great outdoors, you can reach Dusty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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