Tourism boom expected following Crappie USA fishing tournament

Matthew and Caleb Tosh won the amateur division

SHEFFIELD – A Crappie USA fishing tournament held on Pickwick and Wilson lakes Saturday, March 31, confirmed what many local anglers have been talking about this spring.  Big crappie are more plentiful in the lakes than they have been in years.

Henry and Jo Haley of Carmi, Ill., won the pro division of the tournament with a seven-fish limit that weighed 13.20 pounds. It was the heaviest seven-fish limit ever caught in a Crappie USA event on Pickwick and Wilson lakes.

David and Larry Sisson of Wingo, Ky., caught the largest fish for the tournament, a 3.08 pounds black crappie. It was the biggest fish weighed in so far this year at Crappie USA tournaments across the country and the largest ever for the organization at a competition on Pickwick and Wilson lakes. The father and son team finished second in the pro division with 12.91 pounds.

“The lakes are absolutely amazing now,” said Darrell Van Vactor, general manager for Crappie USA. “There are more big crappie in Wilson and Pickwick than I have ever seen. Not only are the crappie big, there’s plenty of them.”

Henry Haley said he and his wife love fishing in Pickwick Lake. “It’s like a second home for us. We drive five and half hours all the time to come down here and fish just for fun. The crappie fishing down here is great.”
“We spend so much time fishing on Pickwick Lake that they know us by first name at the restaurants, bait shops and gas stations around the lake,” Jo Haley said. “Pickwick is great lake for crappie fishing.”

A trio of Tennessee teams rounded out top five in the pro division. Bart Gillon and Steve Coleman were third with 12.53 pounds, with Shane Moore and John Eubanks finished fourth with 12.07 pounds and T.J. Todd and Brian Hatch were fifth with 11.13 pounds.

The father and son team of Matthew and Caleb Tosh of Rutherford, Tenn., won the amateur division with 11.17 pounds. They also won second place in the big fish contest with 2.46 pounds. Kentucky anglers Robert Massey and Todd Dalton finished second in the amateur division with 10.68 pounds. Alabama anglers rounded out the top five with Chad Brooks of Somerville and John Childers of Union Grove finishing third 10.04 pounds, Wayne and Billy Dickey of Florence were fourth with 9.68 pounds followed by Will Counts of Tuscumbia and Kyle Moody of Florence with 9.24 pounds.

The tournament was sponsored by Colbert County Tourism and Convention Bureau. Susann Hamlin, President and CEO of Colbert Tourism, said the number of big crappie caught in the tournament will provide a boost for tourism in the Shoals. “Crappie anglers from all over the South and Midwest are going to start making plans to come fish in Pickwick and Wilson lakes when they hear about the size of the fish the Crappie USA anglers caught. It was a great tournament for the anglers who were competing and for our efforts to promote Colbert County as a great place to go fishing too.”

A Crappie Kids Fishing Rodeo at Riverfront Park, that was held in conjunction with the Crappie USA tournament, attracted almost 50 young anglers from throughout the Shoals.

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