As soon as the big crappie splashed to the surface of the water, Linda and Joe Lister immediately knew this was not the average Miller’s Ferry slab. The two red tags hanging just below the dorsal fin meant this fish would be remembered as much more than a fun day on a great fishing lake in south Alabama. Those tags, combined with the Derby entry ticket in Joe’s pocket, meant this fish was special.
Joe reeled the fish towards the boat as Linda stood ready with the net. Her first swipe missed but the second time she netted the fish. The couple’s twelfth catch of the morning would be their last of the day. Knowing that a double tagged fish caught in the Wilcox Area Chamber Crappie Derby was worth serious money, they quickly dropped the fish in the livewell and headed downstream to the Miller’s Ferry Marina. As soon as they arrived they phoned William Malone, director of the Derby.
William, along with Conservation Officer Dan Quincy, “Gettin’ Outdoors Radio Show” host “Big Daddy” Lawler, and Chamber Director Sheryl Threadgill-Matthews arrived shortly thereafter to verify and photograph the fish.
The Listers, retirees from Flomaton, Alabama, spend a month or more each spring camping at the Corps of Engineers’s Miller’s Ferry Campground and are frequent visitors to stores all around Camden.
William said, “When I got the call I was at Loftin’s Bait Shop in Camden verifying a double-tagged fish from last year’s event. Jeff Howard from Birmingham had caught the $10,000 fish from last year’s Derby. Unfortunately he was a year too late for the big money but he did collect $100. When Mr. Lister described two red tags in his fish, I knew it was one from this year’s Derby. Not until I got to the Marina and confirmed the tag numbers on the fish did I know for sure that they had the $25,000 fish. How exciting it is to have two double-tagged fish to be caught in the same morning. ”
Mr. Lister graciously donated the 2.25 lb. slab to the Chamber where it will be mounted and displayed at the Chamber’s office in the Gee’s Bend Ferry Terminal in Camden. As for what they will do with their winnings, the Listers were only sure of one thing, “10% is going to our church,” said Mrs. Lister.
The Wilcox Area Chamber of Commerce has sponsored this event for the past six years. A one day, big crappie tournament kicks off the 30-day Derby. The Derby features over 200 tagged crappie in the lake worth from $100 to $25,000. Anglers are required to purchase an entry ticket prior to catching a tagged fish. “The Chamber sponsors the events to promote the excellent fishery found within the area.
The Derby runs through May 12th and many more tagged fish remain in the lake. Four remaining “Big Money” fish exist including a $10,000 fish and three $5,000 fish. To date, eleven of the lesser valued fish have been caught resulting in payouts ranging from $100 to $500. Tickets remains on sale for the Derby at most area convenience and bait and tackle stores in Camden.
For more information contact the Chamber at 334-682-4929 or tournament director William Malone at 334-525-0462.