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How To Grow The Sport?

Roper Outdoors's picture

By Roper Outdoors - Posted on 20 June 2011

You hear this statement a lot in the bass industry “Growing the sport”. I must say that is a great question, how do we grow the sport? Now, I’m not talking about the sport of bass fishing, I’m talking about How Do We Grow The Sport of Crappie Fishing? I travel and speak at different fishing and outdoor shows during the year and I have found out that not that many people know what goes on in the crappiei industry. For example, when I talk to people about crappie tournaments they make the statement “I didn’t know they had crappie tournaments” or “Crappie really get that big, I only caught pansize crappie”. As a professional angler I think about this everyday. How can I, how can you, how can we help grow awareness of crappie fishingi? Wait, I’m not just talking about making tournament payouts bigger (even though I wouldn’t mind that) more than that. We need ideas, we need energy, and we need YOU!


Jarad Roper
Team Roper Outdoors, LLC

BEN DIPPIN's picture

I like to fish tournaments because of the competition, its just a lot of fun to beat the field and if there are a lot of big time anglers their it's even better. I have not won a lot but have always had fun and meeting a ton of great people in the process. As for keeping a lot of fish, most tournament fisherman I know will only keep 10-12 fish per day and thats ok with me.
My thoughts on getting more people involved are alittle outside the box but I think it could be a lot of fun and maybe save a little money on expenses. What if we formed teams, with 5 boats in each team. Maybe up the entry for a team of 5 boats to 750 or 1000 dollars. Then twenty teams would be 100 boats with twenty thousand dollars to split. Maybe then these sponsors would sign on to a team and not just one boat. If we had a state championship from say 25 states with the top two teams getting to fish a National Championship Tournament with the entry being 2000 dollars per team "5 boats" that would be 100,000 dollar payout. And for kicks lets have a ten dollar per chance raffel for any team that fished a team tournament during the year, that could generate quite a bit of payout money. Just a thought .


Mark Morris's picture

It ain't like it used to be. I dont' have the luxury of having good crappiei lakes close to me. I consider the New Johnsonville Tn area of Kentucky Lake (300miles away) home water.I have not missed a spring since 1961 and have always tried to hit "THE RUN". Back the it would sound like a nest of bumblebees about daylight as the 12to20 horsepower outboards in 14 ft boats were taking off from the marina at birdsong creek. Most of these boats had 2 people 2 poles and 2 minnow buckets and flashers for electronics. Then. when you went out the only thing on your mind was where to go to start so I can get my 60 fish limit the fastest. We single poled minnows in bushes and willows and "SKULLED" the boat. All the while hoping to catch"Ol Bob" the tagged crappie from CRAPPIETHON and win the $100.00All of that is gone. The bass boats used now have 200 horsepower there are 10 to 15 rods few if any minnows, 100 various jigs and jig colors and at least 4 locators.the bushes are now stake beds and "THE RUN" of 3 days is now a six week spawn. I think the true crappie fisherman has and has had to adapt to the change in our crappie lakes. They aren't getting any newer and no new ones are coming around the bend. Us older ones have little to pass down to the newer guys (except memories) because our way is virtualy gone. All tournament guys would like to see bigger pots and televised weighins, but with current economic woes,$4.00 gas and 15 teams in a tournament that ain't going to happen. It seems even the towns who host the tournaments are pulling in their horns. HOW DO WE GROW OUR SPORT? Take a friend out for a day support and promote local clubs, and support web sites like CRAPPIE101. More can be done in five minutes on a site like this than talking till your blue in the face to boost crappie fever. Sorry about the rambling but I do love crappie fishingi and want to preserve what I can for my kids, and future kids. mark

Roper Outdoors's picture

Mark Morris no need to apologize at all. That's why we brought this up to talk about our ideas and viewpoints. You said "All tournament guys would like to see bigger pots and televised weighins", I would like to see that but it's the following statement that you said that made me start my company Roper Outdoors. "I do love crappie fishingi and want to preserve what I can for my kids, and future kids". Mark that's what it's all about. I think lake conservation efforts are key.
Length limits, Creel Limits, Vegetationi Restoration Projects and more are good things that could be done.

"Keeping The Great Outdoors Great"

Tosh's picture

This is good conversation. I think a lot of people have reached the Robert's mind-set. Most of us fish the few tournaments we fish merely for the thrill. As he said the money is just not there.
Sponsored teams seem to be at an advantage for fishing more events unless they have a small diamond mine to go with the shirts and wraps. If I could afford to I would fish every tournament scheduled but, as with the payouts the money is just not there.
Also, I hear lots of people talk behind the scenes and they say it seems the sponsored teams appear to get more of the hype Ray was talking of. I think if the smaller fishermen were given a little more of this hype they would be more prone to return to next week's event. If the same ten to twenty teams continue to get most of the exposure the time will near when that could be all your left with. All in all, the hype needs to be times ten.
The one pole only idea of Ray's sounds great too! I agree, there are times I fish with multiple poles but, it just don't seem like tournament fishing that would get the person at home on the couch excited about watching.

Matthew Tosh Guide Service
Ph: (731) 343-2835

robert34's picture

For me i love to fish crappiei tournaments i fished crappie usa in 2010 8 tournaments and if you won it you didn,t even cover the cost of the trip until the money is put out like the bass tourneys am done with crappie tournaments and the sport will never grow without more tournament money in them. but for fun i love to crappie fish but all i do now is fish bass tournements


Ray's picture

Thanks Robert34 for mentioning the payouts and expense subject. The payout to expense ratio must be equalized to grow tournament fishing in my opinion. How that is accomplished is actually pretty simple but hard for many to accept. Entry fees to major crappiei tournaments actually need to increase. If entry fees are 75% of your tournament expenses then the opportunity of breaking even or coming out ahead are much greater. Example: I estimate it cost $1500.00 in expenses to fish a 2 day event excluding entry fees. So with a 100 boat field and 100% pay-out only 30,00 is available for pay-outs so less than 15% of the field has the opportunity to get there expenses and entry back.
Here is a parallel: If you flew to vegas for 3 days to bet $10 in a slot machine we would call you crazy.
I submit that entry fees of approx. 75% ($1000.00)of total expense would mean. 40% of field could get their entry fee back, 20% of field got entry fee and expenses back and the top spots still paid a great deal more than ever in past.
All I am saying is there has to be consideration of the expense to wager ratio.


T. Todd's picture

I agree Ray anglers have better equipment and technology that has let them learn how to catch crappiei year around. I also believe alot of other issues have changed some crappie behavior. Lakes are staying clearer for the most part with farmers going to the no till the run off from the rain does not enter the lakes as they used to so fish can spawn deeper. So its not as easy as it used to be with a cane pole few dozen minnows and a tree top on the bank. As for growing the sport most young anglers want to bass fish. Bass fishing on TV is exciting to see them hook up with some large fish and win a large check at the end of the tourney. Crappie fishing has to be promoted to be just as exciting to get older and younger generations exicted about catching crappie and learning different techniques to catch crappie year around and not just in the spring. I used to love bass fishing and still go from time to time but I concentrate most of my time learning how to catch Crappie year around.

T. Todd

Ray's picture

Possum20 I appreciate your comments and thank you for stating your point of view.
I agree it does seem crappiei do seem a bit more challenging to catch than they used to be but I am not sure it is actual over fishing. The creel numbers and state reports seem to indicate really good crappie populations. I lean toward a theory the crappie are caught over longer seasons. There is a growing number of crappie fishermen that fish year around and not just the spring spawn as in the old days. I think sport fishermen also lend greatly to protecting the future of crappie fishingi. True sport fishermen will release a great number of crappie and they are typically the great proponents of regulations to include slot/length and creel limits.
As for growing the sport? You know I am not convinced there are more crappie fishermen today than there were 10 years ago and I do not see a lot of the young people out there crappie fishingi but the census results say there are more people that consider themselves pan-fisherman than ever before. So if that is so how do we grow tournament fishing? To me it seems pretty simple. HYPE That's right tournament crappie fishing has to look exciting and it better be fun to watch on TV for the everyday crappie fisherman. To create Hype you need. (1) Money: Big payouts helps create what you need second (2) Characters : That's right to follow a sport the audience wants a hero and underdog and a vilan, your Dale Earnhardt and Tony Stewart and for that we need professionalism and skills that the every day guys respect and thus help create (3)Entertainment Value: For that I see one day competitive crappie fishing will be like bass fishing single pole and artificial bait only. Crappie fishing pro's will compete for the attention of the viewers and sponsors against Bass fishermen and pushing dozens of minnows around waiting on a fish to get on is not good TV for the overwhelming majority of potential customers.
Like Possom20 I am just stating my opinion and would really like to hear for more of you guys.
By the way I do slow troll and pull cranks pretty often so I am not just a hater.


possom20's picture

Well, maybe I stated the "sport fishermen" wrong. It's not so much sport fishermen, but the guys who spend thousands of dollars each year to invade towns for a week or two during the spawn. I also see, on a regular basis, fish being put into freezers and hauled out of state. Here in MS, you can't sell crappiei as they are considered game fish. Outside MS, those "foreigners" can keep boatloads of fish and sell them for profit in their home states. Luckily, over the past few years some changes have been made to regulations to decrease that, as well as 12" limit on fish in Grenada. These things help, but there is still a ton of pressure on during the spawn, and I think the fish are not spawning normally because of this (could be wrong, but I think that's it). Normal evolution of the fish will change them to feed at different times, spawn at different times/depths, and eventually, all known methods will stop working. As for the tournament trail, I still say the problem is a normal working "Joe" like myself can't afford to travel all over the country, spend $10k on a fancy boat, or spend thousands on gear. Those who get sponsored will typically win due to the fact they have these things, so it's usually a waste of money for someone to fish tourneys if they aren't sponsored. I know I can catch fish, but I can't compete with guys using $10k worth of trolling gear, so there's not much point in me fishing the tourneys, even if they are in my back yard here on Grenada. Change the rules to one pole per person, no live bait. That's what bass tourneys do and it works. It levels the field for all involved if everyone has to use one pole with one jig, so more will be likely to enter. Also, follow the rules of the lake you're on. I see, on a regular basis, fishermen on Grenada in the tourneys using spider rigs with 10 poles hanging off a boat with only 2 people in the boat. That's illegal. You're restricted to two poles per person on Grenada, but of course, if you can hide in a cove with nobody watching, how will anybody know (that was said with sarcasm just so ya know)?

Ray's picture

You make some good points. Here is another one. The possession limit should be the same as the daily limit or at least no more than 2 times the daily limit. In other words at no time can a person possess outside of their home more than 2 daily limits or 40 crappiei. Something like that would stop the wholesale harvest of crappie and make the freezers in the back of trucks go away.


Roper Outdoors's picture

Change the rules to one pole per person, no live bait. That's what bass tourneys do and it works. It levels the field for all involved if everyone has to use one pole with one jig, so more will be likely to enter.
(I saw someone else say something like this. I thought about it, this is what I came up with in Walleye tournaments they can use live bait. They almost fish the same way as crappiei guys do. They can use live bait and have a national trail where some anglers can do that for a living.)

"Keeping The Great Outdoors Great"

possom20's picture

To be honest about this, I'm not sure that word needs spreading that much. I live in Grenada, near the lake. I can assure you, there are THOUSANDS of fishermen from all over the country hitting this lake every year. Don't believe me? Try to find a tree where there isn't a boat parked during the spawn. Sadly, this has led to over fishing and a great deal of pressure on the fish. As a kid, I could catch a limit of crappiei before 9 in the morning. Now, fish all day and you're lucky to get a limit IF you can manage to find fish. My family (along with most in this area) relies on fishing for food to help reduce money spent at the store. Sport fishermen who have money to blow now come out and destroy populations to the point I can't rely on that food. There are still people out there who don't know about crappie fishingi and tourneys and such, but I don't think that's why the tourneys struggle. Times are tough and people can't afford to spend enough money to take days off to scout, travel, or buy gear for fishing at that level. Without sponsors, most of the people who do fish them wouldn't be able to.

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