By Adam Minichino
The Commercial Dispatch
Score one for the “Perch Jerkers.”
Even though Rick Dendy, of Ackerman, and Carl Froshour don’t consider that style of fishing “old school,” they are right at home without spider rigging and fishing with multiple poles.
Little did they imagine that a brand of fishing that has served them well for so long would net them a big pay day Saturday.
Dendy and Froshour found a great spot in the Aliceville pool on Friday and went back to it Saturday to land a total weight of 18.09 pounds that helped them win the Crappie Masters AllAmerican Tournament Trail One Pole Ultimate Challenge on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. The Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau sponsored the event.
“That is all we have ever fished,” said Froshour, who lives in Columbus and is the owner of the Nashville Ferry Landing. “We’re just all about what we call ‘perch jerking.’ You just get over the top of the tops and find where it is nice and sweet and send some signals down to the fish and it is one on one.”
Said Dendy, “One pole, one jig, catching a fish.”
If only it was that simple. The 33 teams had to battle rainy conditions Friday and warmer, humid temperatures Saturday, but veterans like Dendy and Froshour, who have grown up on rivers throughout the region, weren’t fazed. They said a total weight of 8.52 pounds blended nicely with 9.57 Saturday. They felt the Aliceville pool would give them enough fish both days, but they still weren’t sure if their good fortunes would hold. Fortunately, they did, as Dendy and Froshour said they caught smaller fish pretty much all day Saturday and then landed a few bigger ones later in the day.
“We fished the same areas we did Friday,” Dendy said. “When we went into the tournament, we decided where we were going to fish and we just kept working that area. We got out of it one time Friday. Other than that, we stayed in it all day today, and it worked out for us.”
Dendy and Froshour have been fishing together for at least five years. They said the Aliceville pool is the most familiar part of the waterway to them, so they opted to try their luck. In that time, they participated in smaller, local tournaments. The latest event was their first event together in a big-time tournament. Froshour blamed friend Willis Bonner, who teamed with Larry Baldridge to finish fourth, for pressuring him to fish in this weekend’s event. He said Bonner has seen how well he has fared fishing in the area and he encouraged him to test his fortunes in the latest Crappie Masters tournament.
Froshour is glad he listened to his friend.
“I’d say 80-90 percent of the people that fish for recreation fish the way we fish,” Froshour said. “It is not necessarily old school. It is just the way it is done. The few that don’t are fishing the other styles because it is a more aggressive style.”
Participants in the event were allowed to use only one poll and artificial lures. They weren’t allowed to troll for fish.
Dendy and Froshour earned $4,000 for their efforts, while the second-place team of Tommy and Wayne Nichols took home $2,000. They were just behind the winners with 17.8 pounds.
Harold Rich and Ferrill Mitchell were third with 16.87 pounds. They earned $1,300 for their efforts. They also won the big-fish prize of $231 with a 2.08 catch.
Bonner and Larry Baldridge were fourth (16.55 pounds, $900), and John Leach and Mark Peagler, the leaders after the first day, had a second-day total of 6.95 pounds and finished fifth with a total of 16.55. They took home $700.
The top male-female team was Jessie and Nonna Wright (15.71). The top adult-youth team was Larry Fulton and Gunnar Moore (15.59). Both teams earned a new trolling motor.
The Crappie Masters National Championship will be in September in Grenada. Dendy and Froshour said they weren’t sure if they will attend the event. Dendy said his work schedule will determine if the pair will get a chance to go.
If Bonner has anything to say about it, he will make sure Dendy can get a few days off to give the perch a chance to win another title.
“The organization seems to have all of the checks and means in place to be able to provide an honest tournament and to attract people who seem to have a lot of ethics and morals,” Froshour said. “The competition was good, the people were all good, and everybody really looked like they were having fun.”
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.