Weigh-in at the Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters Tournament in West Volusia County is likely to demonstrate the great crappie fishing available on the St. Johns River and its related lakes near DeLand, FL.
The event was a one-day event in 2015. It was won by the Lucus Oil team of Matt Morgan and Kent Watson with a weight of 15.79 pounds on 7 fish. This year’s event has been expanded to two days and will crown the Florida State Champions. Based on last year’s results the two-day event will likely produce a 14 fish weight of more than 30 pounds.
The father son team of Billy and Scott Williams, a Georgia team, also produced a 2-pound plus average last year. The Johnson Fishing team tied for second with the team of John Peyton and Michael Herbst with 15.01 pounds.
Other top finishers included Matthew Outlaw and Wesley Phibbs from South Carolina weighing in 14.99 pounds for 4th place; the Rockport Rattler and B’n’M Poles team of Whitey Outlaw and Mike Parrott claimed 5th place with 14.12 pounds.
Few tournaments in the U.S. can boast that the top 5 teams weighed in total weights greater than 2-pounds per crappie. Big fish honors went to the team of Gilford Sipes and Kent Woods with a big healthy 2.78-pound St. Johns River crappie. More of the same is expected in 2016.
Local media will be familiarized with St. Johns River crappie fishing on Thursday with a Media Day Event. Local anglers are paired with travelling pros in a one fish tournament. Each boat will weigh in one fish. The heaviest fish on the half-day event will earn the media member bragging rights and a gift card from Bass Pro Shops.
The Media Day Event has three different purposes according to Crappie Masters president, Mike Vallentine. “We conduct the Media Day events to give the local fishery some positive exposure, to give Crappie Masters sponsors some publicity and to introduce the tournament to local anglers. Beyond that, and more importantly, we are trying to grow the sport of crappie fishing to a new level.”
The exposure by local journalists helps develop some crappie fishing personalities to represent the sport. Those personalities, like locals Don and Toni Collins, carry the message to the next level to help grow the sport through seminars, TV shows and personal appearances. In the end the local public benefits by learning what the pros are using, how to catch fish on the tournament waters and how to catch crappie all year long.
For those interested in fishing the tournament a Seminar and Registration is taking place on Thursday, January 21, at the Sanborn Activity and Event Center, 901 S. Alabama Avenue, Deland. Times are registration 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. The Rules Meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.
Tournament fishing includes all accessible waters from the St. Johns River, including Lake Monroe to the South, up to the State Hwy 40 Bridge to the North. Anglers are allowed to weigh in 7 fish each day.
West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority is host of the 2016 tournament on Friday January 22 and 23. At the end of the two days fishing a Florida Crappie Masters Champ will be crowned. All area crappie anglers are encouraged to participate. Often the local anglers are the ones that come out on top of the leader board.
The weigh-in site is Ed Stone Park located along the St. Johns River adjacent to S.R. 44 before the Whitehair Bridge. 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.
Postscript: A free kids’ fishing rodeo will be held on Saturday, January 23 at Highland Park Fish Camp. Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. and fishing takes place from 9:00 -10:30 a.m. This youth tournament allows participants to have fun, fish for prizes, and learn about the joys of the sport of fishing. Each child goes home a winner with every participant receiving prizes and gifts from tournament sponsors.