Day two at Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters Florida State Championship started off with cool temperatures and high winds. Anglers were faced with the daunting task of dealing with the cold and wind all day long. The inclement weather influenced a lot of decisions about where to fish on the January 23, 2016 day. Lake Woodruff produced a lot of the winning fish stringers on day one but the lake was sparsely fished on day two.
A local team, Larry Durden and Steve Durden, used the hometown advantage to capture Crappie Masters Florida State Championship. The team of brothers weighed in a two-day total of 24.91 pounds to claim the title. Larry reported that the key to victory was patience, shallow water and minnows. “If we found the mudfish we found the specks,” said Larry. “We fished 4 to 5 foot of water. If you fished 3 foot you wouldn’t catch em’. If you fished 6 foot you wouldn’t catch em’.
Team Durden did change their tactics from day one to day two, but it was not to leave Lake Woodruff. “We had been catching fish at the mouth of Pitt Creek and Lake Woodruff,” reported Larry. “It was a little windy so we moved on into Pitt Creek and got on up to Dexter. We turned around and fished back down the south side of the creek. We fished through the rain and the wind and kept catching fish. The first day we fished one side of the creek. The second day you could not fish the south side. We fished the other side of the creek, out of the wind, fishing the pads. You do what the wind tells you and that’s the way it worked out for us.”
It is a family thing with Team Durden. “The best part of the tournament was fishing with my brother,” chimed in Steve Durden. “Larry is just great at foul weather fishing. That’s where he shines. I think most people tried to change up and I think that’s where they messed up.”
The Offshore Tackle team of Tommy Skarlis and Kyle Steinfeldt pulled their Offshore Tackle Planer Boards to a second place finish at DeLand. “We were also pulling Tad Poles,” reported Skarlis. “The combination of the planer boards and the Tad Poles turns your longlining rig into a longlining rig on steroids. The Tadpole inline diving weight helps stabilize the presentation in windy conditions. Skarlis and Steinfeldt added 9.82 pounds to their day one weight to finish in second with 23.73 pounds.
Third place went to the Johnson Fishing team of Billy and Scott Williams. The Williams team fished Woodruff and led after day one with 14.58 pounds. “When it is your day it’s your day,” stated Scott after day two. “When it’s not, it’s not. We lost a dip net yesterday and lifted every one of our weigh-in fish to the boat without losing a one. Today was different story. We also let the weather influence our decision as to where to fish. We actually unloaded ready to fish Woodruff and decided to load back up and go north. We stayed there way to long. We went back to Woodruff, started spider rigging, and started catching fish.”
Team Williams used their Power-Poles to fish in the wind. “If we were moving at all the moss and stuff fouled up our jigs,” reported Scott. “I would put the Power-Poles down and set there. Then I would barely raise the poles so we would skim the bottom and stir it up a little and then set em’ right back down. We would pick up two or three bites and we just did that all the way across the lake. It was a bad decision to leave fish the size we were catching to find fish. That was a bad decision.”
Scott concluded by thanking area sponsors. “We just want to thank DeLand and the area for bringing Crappie Masters here. I hope they will bring us back. We love to fish here.”
Another father/son team, Tommy and Jared Roper, fished Lake Woodruff both days to pull in a fourth place finish. They spider rigged the first day but switched to long line trolling on day two because of the windy conditions. They mentioned chartreuse and black bodies as a good color and also suggested the Slider Double Action Minnow produced well. “Dad and I designed two colors,” said Jared. “We designed the orange/chartreuse and the blue/chartreuse. If you haven’t checked them out you need to. We had a lot of company on Woodruff on day one, but today we did not see many boats.” Team Roper finished the two days with 14 fish weighing 22.64 pounds.
Another local angler, Trenton Lambert, was all smiles when he came forward to claim the Big Fish award. His giant 3.21-pound crappie, caught on day one, held up on day two and gave Lambert the Big Fish prize. He did it the old fashion way. “I was fishing a bunch of trees and caught my big fish on a cane pole and a minnow. I knew I had to keep him out of some limbs so I pulled him up on top of some hydrilla. As I pulled him towards the net the hook pulled lose, but he slid right on into the net.”
Another Florida Team, Scott Broxton and Scott Broxton Jr. won the Adult/Youth Division. Team Broxton weighed in 11.74 pounds to claim the title.
The Midsouth Tackle Team from Grenada, MS claimed the Male/Female Division. Vic Finkley and Kim Gray caught 20.49 pounds to top the field of Male/Female competitors.
The local community was pleased with the tournament. “This was an amazing tournament,” said West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority’s Renee Tallevast. “It is great to see all these people out here watching the weigh-in regardless of the cold weather. How about that 3.21-pound giant crappie on a cane pole? That’s the way I like to fish for them. What a slab.”
“I also like the fact that the local boys won the Florida State Championship,” continued Tallevast. “The participation and the turnout are wonderful. I love seeing all the people support the tournament.”
“We had a great Florida State Championship tournament on the St. Johns River,” commented Crappie Master president Mike Vallentine. “Someone always figures the fish out regardless of conditions. We had incredible weights on day one. The cold front did play a part in the bite today. We were out there filming for Crappie Masters TV and we could see the bite was off.”
“These guys are good and always can make adjustments to catch some fish,” continued Vallentine. “This fishery seems to be getting better. We had a great tournament, but I think we would have had an incredible tournament if the weather remained good. We saw lots of people fishing down here during the week that did not end up fishing the tournament. We are already looking forward to coming again in 2017.”
For more information on the tournament trail visit www.crappiemasters.net.
For more information on the West Volusia area visit the website of West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority.