A pair of Lima area crappie anglers used methods they honed on Grand Lake St. Marys to win a national crappie tournament last weekend.
Jason Koesters of New Bremen and Jake Hengstler of Botkins fought some tough weather conditions and used shallow water techniques to win the pro division of the 2019 Crappie USA Classic held on to Old Hickory Lake in Gallatin, Tennessee.
They weighed in a two-day 10-fish limit at 19.75 pounds by “shooting” their way around docks as their primary method. They were first day leaders with 10.53 pounds on five fish and then added 9.22 pounds on five fish the second day when they battled some strong winds.
“We’re very excited to win. You always want to win but you are fishing against people from all over. Some of these guys have decked out fancy boats with all kinds of electronics. Most of the participants were deeper water fishermen and since this lake was shallower, it worked in our favor since we’re used to fishing a shallow lake like St. Marys,” Koesters said.
Shooting the docks with small jigs and at times using a small ice bobber is a productive method that has been used for years to catch crappies and bluegills on St. Marys and also Indian Lake. Koesters and Hengstler qualified for the national event by winning a Crappie USA tourney on St. Marys in April.
The Lima area duo bested Randy Pope and Steven Deitz, both of Hickory, North Carolina, by 1 1/2 pounds, which is pretty good margin in crappie tourneys where places can be separated by ounces or even less than an ounce. Pope and Deitz weighed in 18.21 pounds.
Tourney anglers faced some miserable weather conditions following a week of near perfect weather during a week of practice.
After Day 1 began with temperatures in the mid 40s, drizzling rain followed with afternoon temperatures in the low 60s and winds out of the East at 10-15 mph. Continuous rain showers followed through the weigh-in. Heavier rain and winds gusting to 40 mph created quite a challenge for tourney participants.
Koesters and Hengstler put their magic to work on the miserable second day of fishing when they fished multiple docks after catching their five weigh-in fish off a single dock on opening day.
On that second day, they tried different methods. They went with a 1/32-ounce jig on a float “to slow it down hold it better in the wind.” They also swam the jig.
Later they also used minnows (they are allowed in some crappie tourneys) when they found a brush pile in three feet of water located between a couple of docks.
“You could tell someone placed the brush there so they could fish it from shore,” Koesters said.
On the opening day, shooting a Southern Pro twister tail in a yellow and white combination along with a Bobby Garland baby shad did the trick for the winners.
For people who don’t know what “shooting the docks” consists of, it’s very similar to the flipping and pitching style bass anglers use - only you are using smaller jigs.
Koesters explained he and Hengstler use “a 5 1/2 to 7-foot rod and hold in a V formation and flip it under docks.” He added, “We want to get into nooks and crannies where fish hide.”
Four other Lima area duos and one with a Lima area angler were among the 52 pro teams that fished the Crappie USA season ending classic.
They included Jeff Toben and Troy Zimmerman of St. Marys, who were 19th with 11.34 pounds; Zach and Mike Fishbaugh of St. Henry, who placed 29th with 5.91 pounds; Greg Rutschilling of Rossford and Matt Wente of New Bremen, who placed 33rd with 3.86 pounds; Kerry August of Celina and Mike Deiters of Minster, who finished 34th with 3.81 pounds and Matt Tuttle of Delphos and Daniel Reed of Celina, who tied for 51st with no fish.
Two Lima area teams, both from Celina, fished in the amateur division. They include AJ Mast and Dustin Christman, who were 37th, with 2.79 pounds and Jordan Voigt and Bob Swartz, who did not weigh in a fish.
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Registration has begun for special controlled hunting opportunities at the new Andreoff Wildlife Area in Hardin County. Registration for all hunts takes place on a first-come, first-served basis. One may register at https://apps.ohiodnr.gov/wildlife/educationregistration.
Hunts are available to those who have never hunted or harvested the pursued species in mentor-style hunts for deer, waterfowl and pheasants. Additional waterfowl hunts are available for veteran hunters. Andreoff Wildlife Area is located in Hardin County.
According to the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW), the person who is hunting during the mentor-style hunt is required to be designated at the time of registration. Each successful applicant will receive a permit, instructions and map of the area via email.
Those who register for the mentored hunts as a mentor and mentee are required to meet the following:
“Learn to” (recruitment) hunts:
Mentor: A person who is at least 21 years of age and applies for a “learn to” hunt for an opportunity to teach a learner to hunt. Mentors are required to be fully licensed for the species they are applying to hunt, and must have purchased an Ohio hunting license, Ohio deer permit, Ohio turkey permit, or Ohio Wetlands Habitat Stamp, respectively, for more than three consecutive years.
Learner (Mentee): A person learning to hunt alongside a mentor.
1. To qualify for a deer, turkey, or waterfowl hunt, learners must not have held an Ohio deer permit, Ohio turkey permit, or Ohio Wetlands Habitat Stamp, respectively, for more than three consecutive years, or registered a deer or turkey harvest as a landowner within the last three years.
2. To qualify for all other species, learners must not have held an Ohio hunting license or an Ohio apprentice hunting license for more than three consecutive years.
Any questions regarding hunt eligibility or registration can be directed to Jaron Beck at 419-429-8324.
Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL