You could say it almost played out like a Hallmark Channel Movie as Kevin Jones and Billy Don Surface sponsored by The Missouri Corn Growers Association and American Ethanol, claimed the teams first Crappie Masters victory against a power packed field of 99 teams April 20th at the Crappie Masters sponsored by The Renewable Fuels Association “Ethanol Fueled With Pride”, American Ethanol, and Bass Pro Shops National Qualifier and First Leg of the Missouri State Championship also co-sponsored by the Missouri Corn Growers Association and hosted by Captain Ron’s. Beautiful weather greeted Anglers from across the country the first half of practice week with large fish weights being reported with keeper catches in excess of 100 fish per day made winning weight predictions in record territory, but a very strong cold front late in the week changed all that dramatically as tournament day saw temperatures start in the upper 30’s but quickly warm into the 70’s however by then the big fish bite had changed which saw a lot of teams struggle to get close to practice weights. That was just the opposite for Jones and Surface as Billy Don reported he had no practice day with over eight and a half pounds on seven fish. That all changed on Championship Saturday as the team found an area about half the size of a football field just off the current where bigger fish were in a pod staged over open water. The first fish the team caught was a 1.91 pounder, the second over 1.70 pounds, and that generally set the stage for the day. Even though Jones and Surface have hundreds of stake beds on the expansive Lake of the Ozarks, they felt going back and forth through the area and staying put, patient, and “grinding it out” as they said gave the best opportunity to win. That feeling came to fruition as Jones and Surface sweated out team after team who brought their fish to the scale eventually claiming their first Crappie Masters victory, the $5,000.00 that went with that, an additional $500.00 bonus for using E10 fuel in their boat from the Missouri Corn Growers Association and American Ethanol, and $250.00 from Power Pole for being signed up in the Captain’s Cash program. Jones and Surface took advantage of their Mercury powered boat and as important their Humminbird and Minn Kota Trolling Motor package to stay just off the current on fish. The team spider rigged Ozark Rods in 8 to 16 foot of water catching the bigger fish near bottom by downsizing to a 2-inch watermelon colored Muddy Water Bait. Kevin Jones and Billy Don Surface are sponsored by the Missouri Corn Growers Association, American Ethanol, Ozark Rods, Muddy Water Baits, Ranger Boats, Ellis Battery, Power Pole, and Mercury Motors.
A self proclaimed surprise second place finish went to the team of Jake Hammett and Mike Cannon who narrowly missed stealing the victory from Jones and Surface weighing 10.93 pounds just .07 behind the winners. Still a good day as the team captured the second place check of $2,500.00. Hammett and Cannon fished the upper end of the lake like Jones and Surface did spider rigging Jenko Rods 6 to 12 feet deep catching fish near the bottom on the Bluegrass colored 3 inch Bobby Garland Slab Slayer. The team also credited their Mercury powered boat and their Minn Kota Trolling Motor and Humminbird Electronics as vital in making the long runs and identifying quality fish. Jake Hammett and Mike Cannon are sponsored by Trophy Properties, Richard Evans-agent.
The third place slot was filled by the current Crappie Masters National Champion Matthew Rogers who continues to show that championship was no fluke, fishing with his father Bruce Rogers also fished up river but chose to single pole after pin pointing big fish with their electronics and staying on them using a Minn Kota Trolling Motor and getting there with Mercury Motor Power. The Rogers found fish in 6 to 15 foot of water with the tournament fish generally 12 feet deep on a green and chartreuse colored jig. The team took home $1,500.00 after weighing an impressive 10.89 pounds of fish. Matthew and Bruce Rogers are sponsored by Outlaw Crappie and Walleye Poles, and Garmin Electronics.
Fourth place money of $1,300.00 and the top placing Adult/Youth award of a $100.00 Everharts Outdoor Store gift card went to the father and son team of Larry and Dalton Gorham who brought in 10.79 pounds early and held on for an eventual fourth place finish.
Rounding out the top five was a team on a hot streak, Frank Haidusek and Mark McClure who weighed in 10.79 pounds on Championship Saturday good for a $1,100.00 check.
Big fish honors went to the team of Ben Odom and Jason Peckron who finished back in the field but had a 2.22 pound Lake of the Ozarks pig that was good for big fish and the $1,358.00 that it put in the teams pocket.
Second big fish money of $582.00 went to the veteran team of Keith Mueller and Wes Cooper who were able to catch a nice 2.13 pounder, good any day on Lake of the Ozarks.
Top Male/Female honors went to the team of James Conklin and Cheryl Stoner, with a weight of 9.90 pounds. Conklin and Stoner recieved a Humminbird Helix 5 for their efforts.
Click HERE to download full tournament results.
Crappie Masters would like to thank Captain Ron’s Ron Dugan for his long time support and the Missouri Corn Growers Association for co-sponsoring the tournament.
Special thanks to local sponsors that include: Captain Ron’s, The Lake House Inn, Deepwater Inn, Water’s Edge Motel, Sleep Inn and Suites, KS95 95.1FM, Chance’s R Restaurant, Sport World Boat Center, The Bank of Versailles, Edgar’s Outdoor Sports, Lake West Marine, MJ’s, Honey B’s Restaurant.
Special thanks to our National Sponsors that include: Renewable Fuels Association, American Ethanol, Bass Pro Shops, Missouri Corn Growers Association, Humminbird, Minn Kota, Ozark Rods, Mercury Motors, Power-Pole, Millennium Marine, Muddy Water Baits, Jenko Fishing, Wyld Gear Coolers, Everharts Outdoor Store, HH Rods and Reels, Off Shore Tackle, Navionics, B’n’M Poles, Bobby Garland Crappie Baits, Midsouth Tackle, American Angler, Crappieholic, Frontier Metal, Valley Fashions, Crappie Now, Slider, Lake Fork Trophy Lures, The Original Rod Sox, Marine Metal Products, Timmy Tom’s Jig Company, Crappie.com, Ardent, Fish-D-Funk, Skipper’s Jigs, Foxy Fishing Gear, ProBuilt Jigs, Sure Life, Pautzke Bait Company, Mossback Fish Habitat, Freaky Frank’s Custom Tackle, Fish N Tools, Quickfire, Monster Crappie Media and Huffman Publishing, and KMMO Brad & Brian in the Outdoors.