The 2018 American Crappie Trail National Qualifier on Truman Lake concluded over the weekend as the nation’s top anglers battled it out for their chance at over $57,000, including a new Ranger RT188C with a 115 Evinrude E-tec. The Missouri reservoir was low and the bite was inconsistent during practice, but, over the weekend, the cooler weather turned the fish on and nearly every team brought limits to the scales.
Lake of the Ozarks anglers Daniel Pemberton and Justin Neuman showed up at Truman a day before the tournament began, and, with such limited time, they were relegated to minimal areas to prefish. In tournament fishing, occasionally what seems like a hindrance becomes a massive advantage, and this was the case for the Missouri team. Knowing that they wouldn’t have time to run to multiple spots, they grinded the day out in one area and figured out a bite employing a tactic that many angers knew, but few had the patience to utilize.
By vertical jig fishing stumps with just a sinker and a minnow, and “dead sticking” or holding their bait still for up to a minute before moving to a different stump, Pemberton and Neuman brought an impressive 10.75 pounds to the scale on day one, giving them a .25-pound lead. Day two began slow, fishing for over an hour before getting their first bite, but grinding slow, steady, and confident in their technique, they were able to break ten pounds and bring their two-day total to 20.76 pounds, enough to win the $25,000 Ranger RT188C and $700 worth of contingency money.
Father and son team Mike and Jon Gillotte are Truman locals who have fished the lake for years and are extremely familiar with where and how to catch big fish on the lake. Fishing shallow stumps on the Grand arm with orange ProBuilt jigs with black and chartreuse Muddy Water baits tipped with a minnow, the Bass Pro Shops team weighed 9.97 pounds on day one and held fifth-place going into championship Saturday. Their day-two weight of 10.78 pounds put their total to 20.75 pounds, just 1/100 of a pound behind the leader, and worth $6,800 for their effort.
Local Bucksaw Resort team of Rich Campbell and Travis Stephens concentrated on the upper Osage arm of the lake, where they’d caught good fish in June. They located the fish during practice in the same areas but in shallower water on stumps. Black/chartreuse and black/pink Beaver Bottom baits on 1/8-ounce ProBuilt jig heads were theor bait of choice, landing the local anglers 10.15 pounds on day one, and 10.40 pounds on day two, totaling 20.75 pounds, and earning them a check for $4,750.
Big fish was caught by the team of Matt Gregory and Rick Davis, who brought in a monster 2.05-pound Truman slab to claim their $1,035 payout.