Crappie Tournament Winners contributed

Art and Kasey Chamberlin display the crappie they caught to win the tournament.

Most anglers are familiar with the numerous bass tournaments that frequent Roosevelt Lake throughout the year. Hardly a weekend goes by without a bass club hosting one of the popular bass fishing derbies.

The lake is getting healthier with the welcomed moisture this past winter as hundreds of acres of new submerged brush provides for better spawning areas and safety for the newly hatched fry.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has made numerous stockings of Florida strain bass over the last three years, which are now showing in creel surveys and tournament limits. There has been a marked improvement in fishing on this popular reservoir.

This is not the only popular game fish that is making a comeback.

During this same period of time the lake has had multiple stockings of crappies to bolster a fishery that was once the showcase of the West. With the improving numbers of crappies, the Arizona Crappie Association held the Spring Crappie Fest recently to showcase spring crappie season on Roosevelt for this favorite pan-fish.

The annual event took place with longtime local fishing guide, Art Chamberlin and his grandson Kasey taking top honors and also winning big fish of the tournament. This was their second championship in the Spring Crappie Fest with a seven-fish limit of almost 11 pounds. Kasey also landed a pound-and-a-half beauty, which did take big fish honors for the derby.

The overall health of this favorite sport fish may be indicative that Roosevelt Lake is on the rebound.

The Chamberlins used a long line trolling technique in the Tonto arm of the lake in 35 feet of water with the jigs suspended at about 12 to 15 feet. These fish were in the staging area before going to shallow water to spawn.

It is most important to have a graph that will show the depth of the water and the submerged trees at the mouth of Tonto Creek. The jigs would move slowly across the top of the tree line enticing the crappies to bite.

This is Art’s favorite technique which he has perfected over the many years of fishing Roosevelt Lake that he has taught to his grandson, Kasey, and now they are a team for the future crappie tournaments to be held on Roosevelt.

May 18th will be the next crappie tournament on Roosevelt Lake and will be sponsored by “Let’s Talk Fishin’.” Further information about the derby can be found by going to their webpage and the sign-in can be done online.

Spring has sprung, the turkeys are gobbling and the crappies are biting on Rosy. It’s time to enjoy the Arizona outdoors, God’s creation.

Contact the reporter at kmorris@payson.com

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