HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — As further evidence of Hot Springs’ status as a fishing mecca, the $100,000 Mr. Crappie Invitational fishing tournament and the first-ever Crappie Expo will be held in the city October 4 – 6.
A hundred of the top crappie-fishing teams in America will compete in the Mr. Crappie Invitational on Lake Hamilton, which also is to be the site of the FLW Forrest Wood Cup World Championship of Bass Fishing in August, the second year in a row that the FLW Championship will have been held in Hot Springs.
Wally Marshall of Anna, Texas, known around the world as Mister Crappie, is the organizer of the Expo and Invitational tournament.
“It’s finally here, the first Crappie Expo in the history of our great sport,” Marshall said in announcing the events. “The Crappie Expo will consist of over 100 crappie-related companies from all over the U.S.A. displaying all of their products, including boat manufacturers, tackle dealers, fishing guides, seminar speakers, country music concerts, plus the World’s Largest Crappie Fry.”
The tournament and expo will be headquartered at the Hot Springs Convention Center. All events will be free and open to the public.
“For the first time in fishing history, crappie fishing in America will have an expo and a tournament of this scale,” said Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs. “This great event once again highlights another species of fish that can be caught in our local lakes along with all the other great species. Hot Springs has been proud to highlight the best in bass fishing in past tournaments and we are thrilled to help shine the spotlight on crappie fishing and its best anglers.”
“The Mr. Crappie Invitational Crappie Tournament will feature 100 of the top crappie teams in America competing for $100,000,” Marshall said. “Crappie-fishing teams from all over the United States will be coming to Lake Hamilton, including teams from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Texas and other states.”
Marshall said that on Friday morning, October 4, the 100 teams will take off at 7 a.m. from the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission’s ramp on Lake Hamilton. Spectators will be welcome to come and learn from the crappie pros.
At 3 p.m. October 4, there will be a weigh-in at the G&FC weigh-in site. The 100 teams will be cut to 50 teams to compete on October 5.
On Saturday, October 5, those 50 teams will take off at 7 a.m. from the G&FC ramp and fish till 2 p.m., at which time the weigh-in will be held at the Crappie Expo in the Convention Center.
Teams will be cut to 25 teams for the Mr. Crappie Invitational Championship on Sunday October 6.
On the final day of the tournament the 25 teams will take off at 7 a.m. from the G&FC ramp on Lake Hamilton.
The championship weigh-in will be held at 3 p.m. at the Crappie Expo to crown the winner of the largest crappie tournament payout in crappie fishing history.
Marshall said the Crappie Expo will be a family-friendly event free and open to the public.
“It will be a great opportunity for fishermen to come enjoy all the vendors, bait displays, boat manufacturers’ displays and the opportunity to win two free fishing boats that will be given away — one on Saturday and one on Sunday,” Marshall said. “No purchase is needed to win one of the boats, but entrants must obtain a free ticket at the Expo and must be present to win.”
He said the Game and Fish Commission will have crappie in water holes at the Expo where kids can see the fish and try to catch them.
Marshall said the World’s Largest Crappie Fry will be on Saturday, October 5, starting at 11 a.m. in the parking area behind the Convention Center. Free tickets to the crappie fry will be given out at booths inside the Expo. He said the free fish would be given away until the supply of fillets runs out.
Marshall has been putting on the Big Crappie Classic fishing tournament at locations around the country for 10 years.