In what can be described as the ultimate fishing championship, Alabama’s Eric Cagle battled Tropical Storm Beta, a field of over 100 boats, rapidly rising water on the Ouachita River, and moving fish to claim his first Crappie Masters sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association, American Ethanol, and Bass Pro Shops National Championship hosted by the Monroe and West Monroe Chamber of Commerce on the Ouachita River September 23rd thru the 26th. Sitting in third place after day one looking up at the reigning National Champion Robert Carlile in the lead, Cagle knew he had work to do to overtake Carlile. Like many of the competitors, the rising water created havoc and completely took many locations fish were found early in the week out of play. Cagle also had to go to plan B and it worked out. Even with blue bird Championship Saturday skies, Cagle put his head down and made the winning decision to ignore boat traffic and win or lose in his day one spot. Obviously that decision worked out as he topped the scales with a 14 fish limit weighing in a winning 28.81 pounds overtaking Carlile and holding off the eventual runners up Dustin Harris and Kelley Graham, good for the $30,000.00 top prize. Cagle said the key to victory was to not worry about what other teams were doing, grind it out, and focus on his fishing, and let the chips fall where they may. Eric Cagle also took home a $2,000.00 E10 fuel bonus provided by the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council, and other bonuses provided by Freaky Franks Custom Tackle, his sponsor HH Rods and Reels, and Jenko Fishing.
Making a big Championship Saturday leap was the Arkansas team of Dustin Harris and Kelley Graham who jumped from seventh to second with a two-day weight of 27.93 pounds good for the $12,000.00 second place prize and an additional $2,000.00 for having the big fish of the tournament, a 2.74 pound Ouachita River dandy. Harris and Graham found big fish in an area prior to the tournament but found those fish gone on tournament days, which meant they had to go to plan B. Harris and Graham found fish they basically had to themselves where they could focus on the fishing and not other competitors. With Graham looking at the electronics and running the trolling motor and Harris fishing, the team nearly pulled off a huge comeback bringing in a hefty 14.45 pound Championship Saturday bag putting them in the Millennium Marine Hot Seats until Cagle overtook the team. Harris and Graham said they wouldn’t change anything they did and were satisfied with their finish.
Dropping from a day-one lead to settle in the third position was the eventual 2020 Crappie Masters Angler of the Year and reigning Crappie Masters National Champion, Oklahoma ‘s Robert Carlile who wound up weighing in 27.36 pounds over the two days took home a check for $6,200.00, and $7,500.00 and a set of Power Poles with Drift Paddles for his Angler of the Year win. Carlile stated he just couldn’t get his bigger day one fish to bite which lead to his eventual third place finish. Carlile is sponsored by The Bass Tank and gained their $500.00 bonus for being the highest Bass Tank sponsored finisher.
Ending up in fourth place was the team of Heath Rogers and Lance Billberry who weighed in a 14 fish two-day weight of 26.97 pounds and collected $5,000.00 for their efforts.
Rounding out the top five was the Millennium Marine team of Tony Hughes also fishing by himself bringing in 26.22 pounds jumping from eleventh after day one to a top five finish winning $4,400.00.
The top placing Adult/Youth National Championship Team was the father/son team of Trey and Tucker Underwood fishing their first National Championship weighing in 23.15 pounds of fish and taking home a $1,000.00 scholarship, a Minn Kota Edge Trolling Motor, along with a $100.00 Everharts Outdoor Store gift card.
The top placing Male/Female National Championship Team was the father/daughter Missouri team of Brian and Savannah McGhee who weighed in 23.85 pounds and won a Minn Kota Edge Trolling Motor.
2020 Crappie Masters Angler Team of the Year Awards were handed out as well at the Crappie Masters National Championship with the top five finishers as follows:
1. Robert Carlile
2. Matthew and Bruce Rogers
3. Lamar Bunting and Greg London
4. TJ and Alex Palmer
5. Joey Johnson and Chris Coffman
HH Rookie Team of the Year:
1. Josh Jones
2. Bo Tisdell and Jerry Graham
3. Chad Turner and Stevie Yates
Male/Female Points Champion:
1. Eric and Leann Howard
Adult/Youth Points Champion:
1. TJ and Alex Palmer
Big Fish of the Year:
Garrett Steele and Randy Luttrell
Big Stringer of the Year:
TJ and Alex Palmer
Crappie Masters would like to thank the Monroe and West Monroe CVB for their support and hospitality hosting the 2020 Crappie Masters National Championship.
Special thanks to our National Sponsors that include: Renewable Fuels Association, American Ethanol, Humminbird, Minn Kota, Missouri Corn Growers Association, Power-Pole, Ozark Rods, The Bass Tank, Anglers Port Marine, HH Rods and Reels, Millennium Marine, Jenko Fishing, Muddy Water Baits, Wyld Gear, Everharts Outdoor Store, Midsouth Tackle, Mossback Fish Habitat, Mercury Motors, Navionics, Bobby Garland Crappie Baits, American Angler, B’n’M Poles, Charlie Brewer’s Slider Company, Off Shore Tackle Company, Crappieholic, The Original Rod Sox, Timmy Tom’s Jig Company, Skipper’s Jigs, Marine Metal Products, Pautzke Bait Company, Freaky Franks Custom Tackle, BeatDown Outdoor Products, Sure Life, Crappie Now, Crappie.com