For Immediate Release
Three in a row – Pruitt leaves on top
Brainerd, Minn. April 13, 2009 – The all-star team of Randy Pope and Jerry Pruitt did it again on Saturday, winning the Crappie Masters tournament on Lake Wateree, SC. Their seven-fish bag of 11.86 pounds was good enough for first place and is the latest in a string of victories for the pair. The team’s three consecutive victories is not only a career best, it is also a wonderful end to a fantastic partnership.
“After we won that first tournament, Jerry and I joked that it would be nice to win the rest of them before he retired,” said Randy Pope. “Then we went out and did it.” That first win at Lake Tillery, NC on February 28 was followed by a Southern Crappie Classic championship at Lake Wylie, SC March 27 and 28. Saturday’s win was the icing on the cake.
The winning formula pretty much remained the same throughout the three tournaments. Each morning began with 1/16 oz. chartreuse Fuzz-E Grubs, transitioning to white as the day went on. When the fishing slowed, the pair switched to 1/32 oz. Little Nippers to finish strong. With these small Lindy jigs and ultra-light tackle, the pair concentrates on shooting docks to get their fish.
If not the inventors, Pope and Pruitt have certainly perfected the technique known as “shooting docks.” They approach docks with the knowledge that crappie will follow baitfish that congregate around those docks in shallow water – even when everyone else is catching them deep. Anglers finding fish in 12-15 feet of water are skeptical of fish being in as little as 2-3 feet, so Pope and Pruitt generally have them all to themselves.
Ultra-light rods and four-pound test line are the standard setup for this technique, though two-pound line may be used in the winter. This setup allows the anglers to get jigs into tight spaces and under docks where the fish are waiting. Often, they will concentrate on one dock until the bite dies down before moving to the next. A short time later, they will return to the original dock to find the fish active once more after a needed rest.
The results speak for themselves.
Pope and Pruitt burst into the limelight with a 2003 North American Crappie Association championship. Though each had been successful previously, this was the team debut. They followed this success quickly, adding four consecutive Southern Crappie Association championships from 2004 to 2007. In 2007, the team also won the Crappie USA championship at Kentucky Lake. Their latest SCA championship in March of 2009 moves them firmly into a dominant position, as they have now won five out of eight classics put on by that organization.
Pruitt will be sorely missed, but leaving the sport on top is a great finish to a great career. Pope will continue fishing with new partner, Steve Deitz.