When the scales finally settled on Saturday, October 21 at Captain Ron’s Entertainment Complex at Lake of The Ozarks, two veteran B’n’M pro-staff teams emerged as the inaugural Champions and Team Of The Year for the American Crappie Trail. After what has been heralded as the next generation in professional crappie tournaments, the father and son team of Charlie and Travis Bunting led a packed scoreboard of some of the best names in the crappie tournament business.
The Buntings posted a second day bag of 8.31 pounds to combine with Day One’s 9.28 weights for a total of 17.59 pounds. The team won a $40,000 Ranger Z518 paired with a 150 HP Evinrude G2 outboard motor and $2,400 in contingency money for their efforts.
The conclusion of the Lucas Oil ACT Championship Presented by Mid-State Seed also cemented the Team-Of-The-Year Award for the legendary B’n’M team of Ronnie Capps and Steve Coleman. Capps and Coleman finished 8th in the Championship which was enough to land them in the top spot for Team points for the year.
“The ACT definitely got our attention when the plans were first announced,” said Ronnie Capps. “This is the highest paying tournament trail Steve and I have ever fished, by far. No question, we’ll be fishing this one again next year.”
The two day tournament proved to be a bigger challenge than a lot of competitors had anticipated. Lake Of The Ozarks is a popular pleasure and power boating destination and the beautiful October weather had more than just the ACT competitors on the water.
Team Bunting, from Centertown, Missouri, were considered local favorites, but admit they don’t spend a lot of time on LOZ during the summer and fall.
“We’ve won a couple tournaments here, but Truman Reservoir is more our speed because of the recreational traffic,” said Travis Bunting.
This week-ends game plan was to run-and gun, spider-rigging different locales looking to take the biggest fish off of each location they fished before moving on to the next spot. Bunting said LOZ has some quality crappie in in but is not known for producing numbers of big crappie. He admitted that of the 14 fish he and his father weighed over the two day tournament, each fish came from a different spot.
“We tight lined structure – brushpiles, old trees, and stakebeds, anywhere from 7 – 17 feet of water fishing right off the bottom,” said Bunting. “Our plan was to fish at least 40 – 45 different spots per day.”
The Buntings spider rig using B’n’M 12 foot ultralight jog poles. They credit the ultra sensitive tip of the Buck’s Best Ultralight Series rod to being able to see bites that would not be possible with other rods. The BBUL comes in two varieties, one with a rear reel seat and the other with an extended handle, which is the choice of Team Bunting for spider rigging.
“We fished structure that was about the size of a pick-up truck, and we’d nose up to it with the wind in our face and know we were putting 16 hooks in that brushpile,” said Bunting. “I know that 14 and 16 foot rods are popular with other teams but Dad and I feel many times that spreads your baits too far out.”
One key to success in running and gunning and spider rigging is the ability to quickly lay all 8 of the rods flat on the deck of the boat when moving to the next spot. To do so, the team fish left handed with their spinning reel handles all turned to the right side.
“We’ve got a system down that allows us to just hook the bottom bait in the last guide, lay the rod flat on the deck and go,” said Bunting. “The rod never rolls over so the lines never tangle.”
The teams favored bait set up were double hook rigs using a ¼ oz jighead paired with a 2 ½ inch Muddy Water Bait tipped with a live minnow. Above that was a loop knot sporting a 1/0 hook with a straight live minnow.
“We fished three tournaments with the ACT this year and finished 6th, 2nd, and then won the Championship,” said Bunting. “I’m pretty impressed. The vision of where this trail is headed is above what we’ve been used to seeing.”
Congratulations to Charlie and Travis Bunting and Ronnie Capps and Steve Coleman along with all of our B’n’M pro-staff teams on an impressive season. Check us out online at bnmpoles.com