Little Differences Equal Big Difference in Crappie Masters National Championship
Phillip Gentry
The team of Bill and Roger Gant managed to string together enough “differences” to bring home their first National Championship from the Alabama River earlier this month.
A bigger bait makes a better target for bigger fish.
Gant claims his 8 foot rod keeps him in the action, both in terms of netting fish and seeing bites.
The combined “differences” between the Gant’s side pulling strategies and other anglers helped bring them this year’s Crappie Master’s National Championship.

During the first week-end of October, the Gant brothers finally added the crown to their resume that they’ve deserved for many years – Crappie National Champions – during the 2011 Crappie Masters National Championship held on the Alabama River in Millbrook, AL. Amid over 300 anglers, the Gants managed to earn the top spot at the prestigious event by stringing together a number of “differences” between the way they fish for crappie and the rest of the field.


B’n’M caught up with Roger Gant at Gant Headquarters, Pickwick Store in Counce, Tennessee where Roger and Bill guide for crappie on world famous Pickwick Lake.

Question: Roger, how much preparation went into your team’s win at the National Championship?

Gant: We’ve spent a lifetime preparing for this win. Always hoped we’d get it, but now that we have it’s a dream come true. As for the tournament itself, we weren’t able to get down to Alabama to pre-fish until the Wednesday before the two day tournament which started on Friday. We fished the Swift Creek area for about four hours Wednesday and caught decent fish but were looking for bigger so we went to the river on Thursday and only caught 1 keeper all day long. So, on tournament day , we headed back to Swift Creek.


Question: What did you learn during your pre-fishing?

Gant: There were teams who had been down there for several days pre-fishing. They all had their spots picked which was typically a big brushpile or some other big piece of structure and they’d fish back and forth across it. Bill and I side pull, that’s how we fish, and we covered a lot more water and caught fish on small, isolated pieces of cover that other anglers had overlooked. That was the first “difference” in how we put together a win.


Question: What were some of the other differences?

Gant: Another difference was the bait we used. Every jig we used was a hair jig that Bill makes here at the store. We used double rigged, ¼ ounce hair jigs. We gave the fish a choice, they could have a lime jig with a red head tipped with a Southern Pro Hot grub on top or they could have a lime jig with a red head tipped with a small minnow on the bottom. We by-passed a lot of small fish that others were catching because we were offering a big target for bigger fish. That was difference number two.


Question: I know you are a firm believer in establishing the right depth for catching fish. Did that play into your game plan during the tournament?

Gant: No question, you have to establish the right depth if you’re going to catch fish. On day one, we found crappie holding along the top of the channel edge in about 10 – 12 feet; those fish were good enough to put us in the running after the first day with 10.81 pounds. On the second day, a cold front moved in and the water level dropped by at least a foot. Bill and I knew that deeper fish would not be as affected by the cold and the falling water as those shallow fish, so we backed up and fished water that was from 18 to 21 feet deep on the second day while a lot of the others stayed with the shallow water fish. That was difference number three.


Question: What was the biggest difference between your team and the rest of the field?

Gant: This right here. (Gant picks up a black 8 foot B’n’M pole with the words “The Difference” printed in bright yellow letters across the rod blank) We wouldn’t have won the tournament if we weren’t fishing with these.


This pole, at only 8 feet long, puts you closer to the action -that puts more fish in the boat. I know a lot of anglers were using 14 and 16 foot poles to keep the boat from spooking fish. But time and again you hear them talk about how they had the winning fish at the surface and he came off the hook. Not with this rod, as soon as I see a bite or I see Bill go for a rod, I’ve got the net out and under the fish as soon as Bill gets it to the surface. But that’s not the best thing about these rods.


The tip on this rod is so sensitive; you can instantly see every hit you get. We had 12 keepers on the first day of the tournament and only 10 on the second day. We couldn’t afford to miss hits or lose fish and with this rod we didn’t do either one and I believe it won the championship for us. And that makes all the Difference in the world.


To arrange a guided fishing trip with the oldest and newest Crappie Masters National Champions, contact Roger or Bill Gant at Pickwick Store – 731-689-5666.


To find out about B’n’M’s “The Difference” crappie rods, designed by Roger Gant, visit your local dealer or contact us at or 1-800-647-6363.