Halloween Tournament Scares up Plenty of Fish

Three of the 25 teams competing in the inaugural Bobby Garland / Crappie Pro Crappie Monster Fest broke the 20 pound mark for their two-day limits of 14 fish each.

Taking first place honors and the $2,500 top money was Mackey Whyte and George Nelon, who weighed in 10.46 pounds on day one and added 10.33 pounds the second day, for a total catch of 20.79 pounds. It was the first visit to Oklahoma's Ft. Gibson Lake for the Texas team, and they used their limited practice time on Friday to locate structure along the main river channel ledges toward the upper end of the lake.

During competition, the two anglers used two rods each rigged with Bobby Garland Baby Shad and Slab Slay'Rs, in Licorice/Chartreuse Pepper and Gumdrop colors, to slow troll around the structure. Jig head sizes were 1/16 and 1/8 ounce, going up to 1/4 ounce when the wind got up. They reported catching around 50 legal-size fish (at least 10 inches in length) over the two tournament days.

"The majority of the time we were in 12 to 16 feet of water, but I'd say most of our fish came from probably around nine or 10 feet down," said Whyte. "Ft. Gibson is a neat lake and we had a really good time fishing it."

Finishing second with 20.44 pounds, was the team of George "Big George" Foster and Gary Rowe, local anglers who saw the fishing change from a shallow bite during practice to one that went deeper and deeper once the tournament started.

"The front that came through with rain and a cold north wind just before the weekend started a fish migration to deeper water that usually happens around the first week of November anyway," said Rowe. "During practice we were catching a lot of fish in 6 feet of water and less, but by Sunday we were catching them as deep as 23 feet. They never really stopped biting; they were just on the move. We probably caught 70 or more keeper-size fish, with many being over a pound and a quarter."

Foster and Rowe were using one pole each rigged with a single jig, using either a Bobby Garland Baby Shad or Scent Wiggl'R, starting early in the day with chartreuse glow-in-the-dark colors. "It was kinda funny, but on the first morning before start time I had laid a flashlight down that I was using on the boat deck, not really paying attention to where it was shining. When I turned it off I noticed how brightly my Garland Mo' Glo Crappie Pro head and bait were glowing, so we couldn't help but use those colors for most of the early hours each day," Foster explained. They won $850 for second place.

Another local team, Brett Brumnett and David Templeton, took third place with a total weight of 20.14 pounds, winning $685. The Wagoner, Okla., anglers were tossing Bobby Garland Baby Shad in shad colors on 1/16-ounce jig heads along lay-downs in the river section of Ft. Gibson Lake.

"We had a stretch of river bank we just kept fishing, returning to our best lay-downs at different times throughout the day," Templeton said. "I think the crappie in our area were shallower than they were down in the main lake, as most of our fish probably came from depths of 6 to 10 feet."

Missouri anglers Kevin and Charlie Rogers finished in fourth place with 19.23 pounds, earning $550. They targeted standing timber in creeks toward the upper end of the lake and commented on catching their fish at a consistent depth regardless of how deep the water.

"In the early morning hours, we did catch some fish as our baits fell through the first 12 feet of water, but on up into the day the bite was consistent at around 14 feet, whether we were at that depth or over 30 feet," Kevin Rogers commented. He further explained that he was using the Bobby Garland Minnow Mind'R in Horse Fly and Deer Fly colors, while his partner offered a different look and color by using either a Garland Baby Shad in Outlaw Special color or a Slab Slay'R in Electric Chicken. Both anglers used an orange 3/16-ounce Mo'Glo jig head.

Winning $350 for fifth place was the Oklahoma team of Todd Huckabee and Barry Morrow, with a total weight of 19.14 pounds. They also had big fish for day two, a 1.95 pounder, earning the $250 big fish payout for the day. They, too, were fishing standing timber with a single jig.

"Barry and I both had 12-13 feet of line out for our bites," Huckabee said. "We did catch a few fish in the top couple of feet of water early, but they moved deeper down the vertical timber pretty quick into the day."

Huckabee was using a YUM Wooly Bee bait in Black / Chartreuse color. Morrow fished a Lindy Watsit jig in Pumpkin Pearl color. Their 10.6 pounds on Sunday was the highest weight for day two, but the top three finishers also had 10-plus pounds for the day.

Big crappie for day one was also big crappie for the tournament, a 2.09 pounder caught by Johnny Rice and Jeff Powell. They were awarded $250 for the catch.

There were 36 limits (7 fish per team) caught by the pro team entries over the two tournament days.

Owners of the two sponsoring companies of the Crappie Fest event - Chris Lindenberg of Gene Larew Lures (makers of Bobby Garland crappie baits) and Larry Russell of Crappie Pro - presented the checks to the top five teams upon conclusion of the weigh-in.

Both sponsors indicated in their comments that they hope to bring a similar event back to Oklahoma again next year.

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