Lakecaster Online

National Crappie Tournament Returns To Lake Livingston
by James Allen

James Allen
LAKE LIVINGSTON - To Lake Livingston crappie Anglers Crappiethon U.S.A. was a familiar name during the 1990's. The National Crappie Fishing Circuit was a fixture on Livingston from 1989 through 1996. During that period over 3,300 fishermen shared winnings exceeding $142,000.00.

In June of 1996 word arrived Crappiethon USA was ceasing operations. That immediately ceased one of Lake Livingston's most popular outdoor traditions. During the spring of 1997 and 1998 locally based Crappiefest tried filling the void. An admirable attempt, but one never fully accepted by local fishermen and local sponsors.

Don't fret Lake Livingston Crappie anglers. You will not be without your 60-day crappie tournament. First came Crappiethon. Then came Crappiefest. Now comes Fishing In America.

Fishing In America is a nationally sponsored circuit backed by South Bend Outdoors, Mercury Outboards, and Tite-Lok. In 1999 Livingston is one 17 waterways stretching from Canada to Texas where Fishing In America is staging 60 days events.

Consider the new kid on the block as Crappiethon with a new twist. It's likely the man behind Fishing in America concept will not mind the comparison. Founder Tony Estes was one of the founding fathers of Crappiethon USA.

"When tournament directors of South Bend's Fishing In America tagged Crappie events start looking at the map to schedule spring tournaments, two Texas Lakes are always right there at the top of the selections," explains Estes. "Lake Livingston and Lake Texoma are world renowned for their slab size crappie."

Many of Fishing In America's basic tournament concepts follow in the footsteps of its predecessor. Fishermen wanting to participate must first purchase a registration ticket. That ticket qualifies the registered participant to win a portion of a total prize payout valued at $77,475.00.

A total of 1,245 tagged Crappie will be released before the tournament kicks off February 27. The 60 day Livingston event runs through April 27.

There is no variation between Crappiethon and Fishing In America as far as checking fish in. Tagged crappie are required to be taken alive with the tag still attached to a local check in station. Please ignore any other statements to the contrary.

A host of local business establishments have combined to sponsor six tagged Crappie worth $500.00 each to any fishermen enough to bring one in. Also swimming in Livingston's waters are 200 tagged Crappie worth $25.00 each.

When a registered angler takes a tag to a local check in station, the marina or store clerk will match the tag number to the number on the prize list. Those matching numbers determines the prize amount. If an angler finds his or her tag number missing from the list that is no reason to be unhappy.

In fact it should be cause for celebration.

If the number isn't on the local list, it usually means the tag number is on the high dollar Nationally sponsored Outlaw list. In that case a call to Fishing In America Headquarters will no doubt make the tag holder very happy.

The dream catch of Crappiethon fishermen was Tangle Free Tom. Old Tangle Free is long gone. The modern day outlaw with a high price on his head is South Bend Sammy. Anyone lucky enough to attach Sammy to a hook will collect $15,000.00.

A favorite event during Livingston's Crappiethon days was the One Day Team Tournament. The event disappeared during Crappeithon's final two years. 1998 hails the return of not one, but two Team Tournaments. Two days of team events are scheduled March 26th and 27th. Both events will headquarter at Waterwood Marina.

Teams entering the Friday (March 26th) one-day event will pay a $100.00 entry fee. Payback is 50% of the total entry fees paid. The top three winners qualify for the 1999 Fishing In America Classic. Also qualifying for the Classic from Friday's competition is the top male/female team.

The stakes are much higher during the Saturday, March 27th one-day Livingston team tournament. South Bend has teamed up with Mercury Outboards to guarantee a $5,000.00 payback. A $70.00 entry fee qualifies teams to compete for Saturday's guaranteed payout.

"This move is elevating crappie tournaments to a bigger payday," says Tony Estes. "The $5,000.00 will be paid regardless of the number of entries, but even more money will be dished out if the overall entry increases.

"We have a payout that starts with $5,000.00 for no more than three teams and goes to over $10,000.00 for 100 teams. Teams no longer have to worry about what the payback will be if the tournament has a poor showing due to weather or other conditions."

Saturday's top three Lake Livingston winners will join Friday's top three qualifiers at the 1999 Fishing In America Classic. Also qualifying Saturday will be the top male/female team, and top adult/youth team.

The 1999 Classic will be staged May 21-22 on Kentucky/Barley Lakes. It features a cash and prize payback of $63,000.00. A total of nine teams qualifying during March 26 and 27 Livingston team competition will compete for that prize purse.

In conjunction with the March 27th One-Day tourney, South Bend will sponsor a Kid's event. There is no entry fee, but children must be accompanied by an adult and furnish their own fishing equipment. Kids may sign up at Waterwood Marina the morning of the tourney.

So there you have it Livingston Crappie Fishermen. A Nationally backed 60 day tagged crappie tournament is back. Crappiethon? Crappiefest? Fishing In America? Don't let all those names confuse you. Simplifying matters, you can catch Crappie and win money and prizes doing it. No matter what the name, that point is likely what matters most to Lake Livingston Crappie fishermen.

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