Alpers & Haynes Crappie Masters National Champs
By Tim Huffman
Paul Alpers and Phillip Haynes, the blend of old blood and new, teamed up for an impressive win September 22-23 on Lakes Washington, Chicot, Ferguson, Whittington, Lee and Paradise. There were 125 teams facing hot weather, heating water, falling water and heavy fishing pressure to battle for the ultimate prize in crappie fishing.
Paul Alpers won his first national classic in 1984. He teamed with 32 year old Phillip Haynes. The Missouri duo put together a two-day weight, 14-fish, of 21.89 pounds. They jumped from eighth place on day one to first place on day two. Along with the coveted title of National Champions, they took home $32,000 in cash.
How They Fished
“Practice was terrible,” says Haynes. “We went to Washington first but when we dropped minnows deeper than five feet they died due to lack of oxygen. We caught a few decent fish but nothing great. On Wednesday we woke up late, could only fish until noon so we went to Ferguson Lake. Everyone said the tournament couldn’t be won there. We started to believe it when we caught nothing but gar for a few hours. At 11 o’clock we moved and found an island, a sandbar, that provided a break from the current and had some deep water. We immediately caught three good fish in one spot, reeled up and left. We fished all lakes but decided to fish Ferguson for the tournament.”
Alpers says, “I was very nervous because we knew there were some good fish there but I thought it would take a couple of big kickers and they would come from Washington. The way all the fishing happened at all the lakes that wasn’t the case.”
The team trolled (spider rigged) moving up and down the gradual depth changes along the backside of the sand bar. The big difference maker compared to most other teams was that they fished near bottom from 3 to 15 feet of water. Most other teams, especially on Washington, were fishing with baits 3 to 5 feet deep.
Haynes says, “On my home lake after the drawdown we have a lot of gradual sloping banks so we go up and down to different depths until we find the crappie. We did the same thing at Ferguson because it had low, falling water. The current with good oxygen all the way to the bottom had fish confused so they were at many different depths. We caught a 1.90 at three feet and a 1.90 at 13 feet, and fish all in between.”
The team said pressure built early on the first day when at 9:30 they didn’t have a keeper in the boat. They started relying on the Humminbird 360 to put them on specific fish. It worked by letting the team know more precise depths where the fish were located along with the ability to target specific fish or groups of fish.
The team says day two were more like going out for a day of fun fishing with not too much pressure on them since they were in eighth place. A difference in day two from day one was 16 boats in the area instead of 4 or 5.
“One thing we found was a ditch that had a little drop in deep water,” says Alpers. “The fish were relating to the ditch contours and that really helped us. The fish were all up and down in depths but anywhere with a contour break at any depth definitely made a difference.”
A few of the team’s sponsors include Martin Metal, Midsouth Tackle, Bug Band and American Angler. “We couldn’t do this without sponsors,” says Alpers. “It costs up to $2000 to travel to a tournament to practice and compete.”
On winning the national championship, Haynes says, “I’m young but have been fishing tournaments for 14 years. I wanted to win a big one some day but I didn’t expect it to be this one. It hasn’t really soaked in yet.”
Alpers says, “I didn’t think I could beat the feeling of winning in 1984, but I’ve had a burning desire to win another one. If you don’t get excited about hunting, fishing or whatever you do you should find something else to do; winning this one has made me so excited I can’t put it into words.”
Male/female winners were Corry Batterson, IA and Dianne Stevens, MO with 20.61.
The Adult/youth champs were David Simmons,MO and Jaxon, Hall, GA
Big Fish was 2.19 caught by Barry Morrow and Chad Mopin, MO.
Check out www.crappiemasters.net or Crappie Masters facebook for more tournament information.
Top 2521.89 Paul Alpers-Phillip Haynes
21.50 Richard Bowling-Garry Lee
21.47 TJ Grooms-Tony Grooms
20.91 Randy Wolf-James Butz
20.62 Steve White-David White
20.61 C Batterson-Dianne Stevens
20.60 Jonathan & Alicia Phillips
20.40 Don Collins-Roger Milby
20.27 Charles & Travis Bunting
20.14 D Townsend-Dan Johnston
20.13 Gilford & Shannon Sipes
19.96 Jeremy Aldridge-C Egbert
19.78 Jay Carr-Joe Lowery
19.65 B Christian-Dan Hudgens
19.57 Monty Blount-K Sullivan
19.53 Terry & Cole Stewart
19.37 Tony Thomas-Ronnie Bleas
19.26 Jeff Riddle
19.12 Rick Fajen-Earnie Cox
19.00 W Barmore-Mark Theodus
18.94 Barry Morrow-Chad Maupin
18.87 Jerry Gross-Debbie Gross
18.81 Tony & Mike Sheppard
18.76 Brian Kelly-John Beshers
18.51 Joey Hilton-Marty Graves