Cooters Pond in Prattville, AL was the launch site for Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters Alabama State Championship. Anglers fishing the April 29 and 30 event were greeted with a heavy fog and low visibility on Friday morning.
Angling teams were allowed to launch at 5:00 am from Cooters Pond boat ramp or they could trailer to any public access boat ramp on the fishable waters of the tournament. There were around 30 boats ready to launch near the weigh-in at Cooters Pond, but with the heavy fog they decided to trailer to a ramp closer to where they wanted to fish. It would have been very difficult to run any distance up or down the river in the fog.
Fishable waters began just South of Hwy 14, Gold Star State Park Bridge on the Coosa River and included the west side of the Hwy 231 bridge on the Tallapoosa River down to Jones Bluff Dam. Fishing north of the Hwy 14 Bridge or East of the Hwy 231 was strictly prohibited. All contiguous waters (those reachable by boat from the main river) may be fished between these boundaries or on Lake Jordan.
Fishing began at 6:30 am and ran until 3:00 pm. All teams were required to be in weigh-in line at Cooters Pond by 4:00 pm. Those same hours are applicable to day-two fishing and weigh-in. The public is invited and encouraged to come to the weigh-in and view the crowning of the 2016 Crappie Masters Alabama State Champions.
Crappie Masters president Mike Vallentine commented that the fog was not a great issue. “From what we saw the bite was on this morning,” said Vallentine before the weigh-in. They were still pulling water and the lake was dropping. The fish were biting really good for the first two or three hours. The fog lifted about an hour and a half into the competition and by about 9 o’clock the bite slowed way down. If the lake had been stable I believe they would’ve hammered fish all day long.”
The day one leaders are Billy and Scott Williams. The Georgia team took the day-one lead with 12.35 pounds. “Being in first place is a little bit of pressure but I’d rather be in the lead than second or third place,” said Scott. “We’ve got a little bit of jump on the guys. I’m looking forward to a good day of fishing tomorrow.”
“We travel all over the southeast from Texas to Florida and this is probably one of the top three places that I like to fish on the tour,” continued Scott. “I appreciate Elmore County and the City of Plattville for bringing us here. I hope they continue to bring us in the future.”
The Johnson Fishing Team was long line trolling to claim the lead. They are the 2015 Crappie Masters Angler Team of the Year and also past Alabama State Champions in three previous years. Other sponsors include B’n’M Poles, Humminbird, Minn Kota and Driftmaster Rod Holders.
The Midsouth Tackle team of Steve Brown and Gerald Overstreet hold second place on day one with a weight of 12.13 pounds that included Big Fish of the day at 2.30 pounds. “It was a grind today,” said Brown. “We started off spider rigging and tipping jigs with minnows. Later in the day we went to straight gold hooks and a minnow.”
Brown expects another hard fishing day on Saturday. “There was one spell we went an hour or two without catching a fish. I look for it to be tough again tomorrow.”
It will probably be tougher than today. We will just have to stay persistent. We know the fish are there, we just have to grind it out.”
The remaining teams in the top ten were:
Jeff Riddle and Loren Nelms with 11.73
Kyle Schoennherr and Rodney Neuhaus with 11.49
Steve Deason and Rick Howard with 10.91
Tony Thomas with 10.87
Jared Gilbert and Randal Lewis10.86
Bob Robinson and Lizabeth Robinson with 10.85
Dan Dannenmueller Sr and Garrett Steele with 10.51, (included second big fish at 2.15 pounds)
Bob and Lizabeth Robinson held the lead early in the day with 10.85 pounds before finishing the day in the eighth spot. The Jenko Fishing/Robinson electric team changed their strategy to find some bigger fish. “It started off kind of slow,” said Bob. “We probably had seven fish by 8 o’clock, but they were small 1 pound fish. “Then we started branching out and went a little deeper where we caught some bigger fish.”
“We were spider rigging with pink jigs,” said Lizabeth. “I always like pink, but today the fish liked them too.”
The event was hosted by the City of Prattville and the Elmore County Commission.
Following the day-one weigh-in Kellie Cook, with Plattville Parks and Recreation, noted the benefits of having the tournament in town. “This Crappie Masters Tournament is just good tourism for us. It brings people in that may not know what we have to offer in the area. The Alabama River is a little treasure in our backyard. The people and the fisherman seem to enjoy coming here. The economic impact is good. Our hotels are full. Our restaurants are full. Our gas stations are full. It absolutely is a plus for us.”
The next Crappie Masters event will be the Ozark Rods Open National Qualifier on Rend Lake, May 7, 2016.
For more results, photos and future events click on the Crappie Masters Facebook page or visit their website.