Today kicks off the start of Crappie Masters National Qualifier on Lake D’arbonne. One-hundred and eighteen teams from across the country will be competing Friday and Saturday for the grand prize of $10,000. While you are sitting there drinking a warm cup of coffee reading this, just know that I will be out there freezing my tail off from 7am-3pm today & tomorrow.
Crappie tournaments are slightly different from bass, as we will be weighing in our 7 best fish each day. Every other angler and I will be targeting the largest crappie in the lake (aka 2+ pounders). Anders will be my teammate once again and our adult/youth title from 2021 is on the line.
I should be rigging tackle and prepping the boat right now, as it’s almost my bedtime and 430AM is coming soon. However, I will tell you a little about what’s going through a tournament angler’s mind the night before the tournament.
- Anxiousness- I’m not one to suffer from any type of anxiety, but this is different. I can only compare it to back when I played competitive ball and was in the locker room awaiting to take the field. I’m ready to go but there is some doubt in my mind that I’ve made the correct game plan. Nervous excitement might be a better explanation.
- Where am I going to fish? Most of the time, I’ve narrowed down a few places and know where I will start. It’s 10PM right now and your guess is as good as mine. I caught some decent fish today but never found the quality I need to win the tournament. I might just throw a dart at the map.
- What lures do I need to use? I will probably be using a hair jig that is natural in color (silver minnow like). I like to keep it simple but will change to something a little more flashy based on the fish’s reaction.
- How do I fish with the weather Mother Nature has dealt? The wind is going to be relatively brisk out of the north, cold, and some rain mixed in. I will start by hitting my open water areas at first light, and as the wind picks up will move to more protected areas. I will be solo today, so I have trouble being accurate on my casts when I’m fighting the wind. The next two days will be an ABSOLUTE grind.
- Do I swing for the fences or play it safe on day one? This one is probably my weakness. I like to be conservative as I don’t want to fall on my face and fail right out of the gate. However, my limited pre-fishing has forced my hand today. I’m on some decent fish, but nothing that will win the tournament (I don’t think). I think I can catch 12-13 pounds, but I think it will take 14-15 pounds per day to win it.
- I can’t let my son down. Day one, I will be fishing alone, as Anders will be at school. I want to make sure I keep us in contention so we can have something to fish for on day two. He has been looking forward to this for months, so there is a lot of pressure on me.
- What am I going to eat? Jalapeno and pepper jack cheese summer sausage on a Ritz cracker. I’m hoping the fishing is so good I won’t have time to eat it though.
- Why am I writing this article right now? I’m not sure… I guess I don’t want to let you all down. Having said that, I need to get out in the boat and get prepared.
Overall, I’m feeling pretty good about the tournament. I want to win this tournament so bad. I’ve had some good finishes, but never gotten the W. Nobody will fish harder than me tomorrow, but it is called “fishing”, so you just never know. I just hope to catch 7 and luck up on a few big ones in the process.
Weigh in will be at Rhett’s Tails and Shells beginning at 3:30PM. I hope to see you there with a heavy sack of crappie in tow. If you can’t make it in person, you can watch it on Facebook Live. Just search “Crappie Masters” and the live feed will begin around 3PM. For better or for worse, I will let you know how I fair. Vegas odds have me at a big longshot to win it all but favored to win the adult/youth division.
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 email@example.com.
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