What will it take to win the D’Arbonne National Crappie Championship?

Big north Louisiana crappie like these are bringing anglers from around the country to Lake D’Arbonne for the American Crappie Trail National Championship.
Big north Louisiana crappie like these are bringing anglers from around the country to Lake D’Arbonne for the American Crappie Trail National Championship.

Lake D’Arbonne’s famous crappie fishing has reached a new level. On March 28-30, the 16,000 acre Union Parish lake will host Louisiana’s first-ever national crappie championship.

The top 100 teams from the American Crappie Trail’s 2018 season will be competing for the championship and they’ll hit D’Arbonne just right to find big fish in several locations.

More than $100,000 in cash and prizes will go to the winners and the ACT Angler Team of the Year trophy is on the line as well. Fifteen Louisiana teams are among the qualifiers. Sixteen states will be represented.

Where to find big fish

Much of the best deep water channel fishing is over, but there are still big fish suspended 10-12 feet deep in 20 feet of water. Other crappie are moving up the creeks and staging for the spawn.

Crappie fishermen who love to hit the trees will be in luck as well as many big females will be on the nest, or leave the big males behind to guard the nests. Big fish can also be caught in 10-15 foot deep flats.

The key will be to…

The key will be finding enough crappie near the two-pound range to bring in three consecutive seven fish limits, says ACT tournament director Matt Morgan. Recent tournaments there have required almost a two-pound average.

The ACT has a strict off-limits period before each tournament to preserve an even playing field for all the anglers no matter where they live. Off limits for the Championship is March 13-22. Actual practice will be March 23-27. There will also be a Media Day on the morning of the 27th where media and dignitary guests will go out and fish with some of the pro teams.

One of the unique things about the ACT is their catch and release program. Anglers must weigh in their fish alive and they are quickly transferred into an oxygenated tank on a bottom release valve so they can be returned to the home lake unharmed.

“When we go to a tournament body of water, my No. 1 goal in the long run is that there are no fish taken home,” Morgan said. “It’s all a matter of leaving this lake as good as when we arrived. The brood stock on your home lake is important to you and it is important to us,” says Morgan. “It’s important that every lake have some sort of conservation plan — if not for us, then for our kids and grandkids.”

Kinny Haddox
About Kinny Haddox 251 Articles
Kinny Haddox has been writing magazine and newspaper articles about the outdoors in Louisiana for 40 years. He also publishes a daily website, lakedarbonnelife.com. He and his wife, DiAnne, live on Lake D’Arbonne in Farmerville.