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2020 Tournament Results

Lake:Lake Harding, AL
Date:02/15/20

CUSA Pro Division Victory on Lake Harding goes to Alvis and Bunch
(Dermitt and Walker take Amateur Division. )

Louisville, KY – February 16, 2020 – Crappie anglers from eight states traveled to Lake Harding, AL to participate in the February 15, 2020, Crappie USA (CUSA) event. Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s presented the tournament for local and traveling anglers. Competitors were vying for cash, prizes, and an opportunity to compete at the 2020 CUSA Classic which will feature a guaranteed payout of $125,000 in cash and prizes.

The first-place team in the Amateur Division was fishing their first tournament ever. They fished against some of the best in the business and came out on top in spite of some tough conditions. The lake was inches from running over the overflow dam in flood stage conditions and really muddy.

“It just goes to show you,” said Darrell Van Vactor, tournament director. “Even when conditions are tough, fish can still be caught if you try. Several of the seasoned teams came and practiced and then went home thinking the weather and water were going to be bad. As luck would have it, we had a beautiful sunny day to fish at Lake Harding and all the teams weighed in a limit of fish. That’s something that rarely happened anywhere.”

A total of 15 boats fished the Lake Harding event—6 in the Pro Division and 9 in the Amateur Division. A total of $4,700 was distributed to the winners.

Pro Division Results

The Pro Division win went to Neal Alvis from Rogersville, TN and Scott Bunch from Morrison TN. They teamed up to bring 10.96 pounds to the scales and earn $1400. They added the Ranger Cup Bonus for $500, The Driftmaster Rod Holder Bonus for $300 , the Crappie Magnets Bonus for $200 and Big Fish Caught on B’n’M Poles for another $215. Total earnings were $2615.

Alvis and Bunch fished the lower area of the lake. They fished with one pole in hand, either jigging or shooting docks. They were using Slab Magnets in Double Ugly and Cricket colors to catch between 50 and 60 crappies during the tournament.

The runner-up spot in the Pro Division went to the brothers Walker from Byron, GA. They used B’n’M Poles to bring 10.21 pounds to the scales to earn $600 for second place.

“My brother Jacob went over and prefished Thursday and Friday,” Reported Forrest. “He put all the work in finding fish. I didn’t see the water until Saturday. He found only a few docks holding any fish at all. He did find one area where he thought decent fish could be caught trolling.”

As the brothers expected, a front came through and an early morning bite deteriorated. They used single poles early and switched to trolling two miles up the lake from the dam to catch a total of 25 fish on the day.

“The bite shut down after about 10:30,” continued Forrest. “We caught half our fish shooting docks and other half longline trolling. While shooting docks we used one of the best hair jigs there is in my opinion—Jiffy Jigs, in a blue/black and green/yellow. Each one is handmade and painted in Vidalia, GA (Mr. Jimmy Brantley).”

When they were trolling, they used AWD baits from Steve Deason at the Crappie Shop in Gray, GA. They reported that the black/chartreuse and green/orange worked best for them.

“We caught all our fish from halfway back in bigger creeks to all the way in the back in about 12 ft of water,” recalled Forrest. “The one spot where we trolled, Jacob found in the back of a creek. There was a very small hump, only 2-3 feet difference but had hard bottom on top. We would pull across it, reel up, turn around, and troll back across again. We culled 3 times in the last hour and a half doing that.”

“I would like to thank Darrell and Crappie USA,” concluded Forrest. “People need to realize what a great job they do so that we can get better turnouts when they come south.”

The third spot in the Pro Division went to Gilford (Sonny) Sipes from Moody, AL and Shannon Sipes from Odenville AL. They weighed a limit at 9.41 pounds to earn their place and $400.

Team Sipes fished around an island downriver. They were longline trolling black/silver and popsicle jigs in 19 to 30 feet water to catch 30 fish on the day.

"The fish were moving like crazy," said Sonny. “We just had to try and stay in them."

Amateur Division Results

The male/female team of Logan McDermitt and Madelynn Walker from Molena, GA brought 9.43 pounds to the scales to take the top spot and earn $700.00 in the Amateur Division.

Logan and Madelynn fished Halawakee Creek shooting docks with blk/chart jigs. The team caught 20-30 fish for the day.

“The fish bit much better in the morning,” reported Logan. “They slowed down when the sun came out.”

The runner up spot in the Amateur Division went to Jamie Logan from Ellaville, GA and Steve Dehart from Oakman, GA. They teamed up to put a limit of crappie in the boat that weighed 8.64 pounds and earned a check for $300.

Logan and Dehart fished Halawakee Creek by the train trestle. They started out spider rigging very slowly in shallow water. As the day went on, they moved out from 6- to 8-foot water to 15- to 20-foot water.

They were pushing live bait tipped with Slab Bites and credited Crappie Magnet Slab Bites for their success in catching over 50 Lake Harding crappies on the day.

Rounding out the top three was solo anger, Robert Denen. He made the trip from Youngstown, OH to fish the Lake Harding event. He weighed a total of 8.21 pounds to take the third spot.

Denen longline trolled during practice and on tournament day. He found the fish to be suspended anywhere from 8-10 feet down in 15-35 feet of water off ledges. The best bite was before 9 am.

“I was using dual 16th-ounce jigheads with Jenko rods,” reported Denen. “I was tipping with Arkie tubes in chartreuse/black and orange/black. I also had success with Rockport Rattlers. The best speed was between .8 and 1.1 mph. It was mainly a reaction bite.”

Harding is a fun lake to fish,” concluded Denen. “”I caught over 60 fish.

Epilogue

Darrell Van Vactor, CUSA Operations Manager, sent special thanks to Auburn-Opelika Tourism for all their support in hosting the event.

“Lake Harding is truly a crappie anglers dream,” said Van Vactor. “All of the teams caught great fish in the worst of conditions. We are already looking forward to returning to Lake Harding in the 2021 season. Local Alabama teams had little faith in the fishing it seemed. Only one team from Alabama fished the event while teams from 7 other states competed.”

The CUSA Classic Championship will be held October 22 – 24, 2020 at Green River Lake, Columbia, KY. The 2020 Classic, presented by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's, features a guaranteed payout of $125,000 in cash and prizes.

National Sponsors

National Sponsors of Crappie USA are: Bass Pro Shops Cabela’s, Ranger Boats, Mercury Marine, Mustad Hooks, Minn Kota, Humminbird, Talon, Lake Master Maps, Gamma, B’n’M Poles, Driftmaster Rod Holders, Ego Nets, Cumberland Crappie Double Seats, Brushpile Crappie, Charlie Brewer Slider, Crappie Now Magazine,., Jenko Fishing, Big Bite Baits, Lake Cumberland CVB, Crappie Magnet, EFX Graphics, Fin n’ Frames, Crown Trophy, JR Madd Breading, WavePro, Freaky Franks Tackle, EZ Drift, Allegro Marinades, and Aftco Clothing.

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