Crappie anglers near DeLand, FL began their day with prospects of threatening weather. Forecasters were issuing severe weather forecasts for as early as noon in the area. Fishing waters include the St. Johns River from Lake Monroe on the south to the HWY 40 Bridge on the north.
The anglers were fishing the first day of a two day Crappie Masters Tournament that would crown a Florida State Champion at the end of day two. As the day rolled on the forecasters were pretty accurate.
Brian Sowers, AKA, the voice of Crappie Masters, described the day. “We had a storm system come through today that was really three fronts in one. The anglers had to deal with rain, they dealt with hail, they dealt with thunder and lightning on the water today.”
The Johnson Fishing father son team of Billy and Scott Williams lead the pack after day one. The pair are the 2015 Crappie Masters Team of the year. They had 14.58 pounds of St. John’s River black crappie. “We fished Lake Woodruff today,” reported Scott. “We were longline trolling.”
We were using small heads with big jigs,” chimed in Billy. “You had to hold the baits off the bottom.”
“It was rough today,” continued Scott. “We were fortunate to get what we got. I am worried about tomorrow because of the colder weather and also because the wind picking up will stir the water up and make the fishing harder.”
Tommy Skarlis and Kyle Steinfeldt, 2013 Crappie Masters National Champions, tied up second place on day one fishing planer boards. “We were fishing on the St. Johns River system,” explained Skarlis. “We were pulling Offshore Tackle Planer Boards and using hand tied jigs we make ourselves. We used the Tadpole inline diving weight today to stabilize the presentation in these windy conditions. We got seven good bites. We got two more that were pretty good fish, but seven good ones is all you need.”
Matt Jennings and Frank Finley finished the day in third place with a weight of 13. 60-pounds. “We were spider rigging some and fishing the pads some. It seemed like when the weather got worse the fish bit better. As the fronts moved through it seemed like the fish would bite in a flurry. It was kind of on again off again, but a great day overall.”
Rounding out the top five is Steve Coleman and Randy Tomlin in fourth place with 13.25 pounds and Larry Durden and Steve Durden in fifth place with 12.59 pounds.
DeLand resident, Trenton Lambert, did it the old fashion way to take Big Fish honors on day one. “I was fishing a bunch of trees and caught my big fish on a cane pole. I am a little nervous now. I was fishing by myself today when I caught the fish on a regular minnow and hook.” Trenton has one more day of fishing to catch a bigger one, but his monster today will likely hold up for Big Fish of the Tournament.
Crappie Masters president, Mike Vallentine was pleased with the days fishing. “We expected fishing to be down a little today with the weather,” said Vallentine. “However it wasn’t. Basically it is because of the strong fishery in the St. John’s River.”
“The dynamics may change tomorrow,” predicted Vallentine. “We have a cold front moving through tonight, a major one. Who know what that will do to the fishing? It might affect the fish and it may not. It’s always hard to tell how quickly they respond.”
“We had an unbelievable 3.21 fish today,” continued Vallentine. “That fish could stand up all year long as Big Fish for the season. That’s how good this fishery is. We have a lot of great lakes to fish this year, but this St Johns River fish could hold up to all of them.”
“We saw a lot of 2-pound plus fish today,” said Sowers. “We saw an absolute monster 3.21-pound crappie right here on the St. John River. The guys will face a big challenge tomorrow with the change in the weather. We will have to wait and see who can score the biggest two-day total to win the Florida State Championship. We will also have to wait until tomorrow to see if the giant 3.21-pound crappie holds up as Big Fish of the tournament.
The final day weigh-in on Saturday, January 23 should be very entertaining as anglers vow for the top spots. It will be held at Ed Stone Park located along the St. Johns River adjacent to S.R. 44 before the Whitehair Bridge, beginning abut 3:30. All anglers must be in the weigh-in line by 4:30 p.m. The public is invited and encouraged to attend the weigh-in.
For more information on the tournament visit www.crappiemasters.net.
For more information on the West Volusia area visit the website of West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority.