Instructors are selected from a national pool of crappie experts and assigned to locations where familiar with the waters. Among them are professional anglers, guides and fishing television/radio show personalities. Generally, the instruction lineup changes every year per location.
Neal Alvis was born and raised in East Tennessee near the foothills of the Great Smokey Mountains and the headwaters of the Tennessee river system. He's a life-long fishing enthusiast with a passion for competitive Crappie fishing. He has several top finishes to his credit and contributes his success to focusing on the details of the waters he's fishing. He employs several techniques from shooting docks to spider rigging, and everything in between. He always takes time to listen to others and loves sharing crappie-catching information with others.
The St. Marys, Ohio, angler has spent countless hours in front of the TV camera while pursuing crappies. He’s the former host of Midwest Crappie Television and now hosts the Brushpile Fishing television show. He’s also host of B’n’M video series "Anytime Crappie." His video and TV production efforts take him across the country where he’s constantly learning new places and techniques from the local experts, and those are things he loves to share. Russ is also a competitive tournament angler and has qualified for 14 national championships.
Troy Basso was born in Michigan but now lives in Middle Tennessee where he is a professional angler and guide. Prior to moving to Tennessee in 1996, he served a 10-year stint in the U.S. Army. He’s a lifelong hunter and angler whose passion for the outdoors has resulted in a related career. He writes for numerous mainstream fishing and outdoors magazines, including Eastern Fly Fishing, Fishing Facts, and MidWest Outdoors. He’s currently writing a book about living life in the outdoors.
Matt Beckman lives in Odessa, MO, located about 35 miles east of Kansas City, and works as a journeyman lineman for a local power company. His crappie-catching knowledge far exceeds his 30-year age. His preferred fishing style is one pole, one jig and fishing visible timber … a skill he’s honed on popular crappie fisheries in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. As a tournament angler, he’s won multiple events on Truman, including the 2017 Crappie Master’s Ultimate One pole Challenge and an American Crappie Trail competition.
Justin Berry was born and raised alongside the Mississippi River in East Prairie, MO. His earliest fishing experiences began as a kid catching crappies from a 10-foot jon boat with one pole, especially learning to target small “holes” in the river where big crappies like to congregate. Today he’s expanded his gear and passion to become proficient in the latest techniques and will share how and when to use them in situations common to area waters. Berry is a competitive crappie tournament angler and national championship qualifier.
Living in Osage Beach, MO, Blankenship is a Lake of the Ozarks expert for a variety of species. He enjoys competitive crappie fishing and also pursuing the species just for good ol’ fishing fun. He is considered one of the nation’s best in the technique of “dock shooting” for crappies, and as a result has been featured in many newspaper articles, national magazines like In Fisherman and Outdoor Life, and on several TV fishing shows. Blankenship is also an expert in using and interpreting new-age electronics for finding and catching crappies.
Scott Bunch of Morristown, TN, has enjoyed numerous years of competitive crappie fishing at the local and national level. He competed in the Crappie USA Trail with multiple wins and top 5 finishes among various lakes in the southeast. He's a versatile angler that relies on a wide arsenal of techniques to adapt to the different seasons and varying lake conditions encountered on his travels in and out of state. He loves to "Talk Crappie" and enjoys sharing his knowledge and expertise with others interested in the species.
Brad Chappell is a crappie guide from Ridgeland, MS, who frequents the framed waters of the area in search of giant slabs, especially spending countless hours on nearby Lake Washington. He specializes in long line trolling because he likes the technique to locate and catch active fish while also surveying a lake to learn it and discover its most productive areas while doing so. He says long lining is especially effective when fish are suspended, like they often get in the hot months of summer. Chappell is an expert with electronics and can often “read” fish moods by what he’s seeing. He’s versatile in all techniques and also competes along the crappie tournament trails.
Steve Danna started out as a diehard bass angler who fished for crappies occasionally. He and his wife have now lived on Louisiana’s Lake D’Arbonne for 20-plus years and that’s about how long he’s been seriously into crappie fishing. He figured out early in his transition to a different species that crappies follow pretty much the same patterns as bass throughout the year. He’s used that knowledge, constantly refining his techniques and equipment as things have progressed to become one of the state’s best and most respected crappie guides. He also enjoys fishing competitively along the crappie tournament trails.
Dan Dannenmueller is a retired Air Force officer with 25 years of AF comptroller and system development experience. That’s the only reference to “retired” you’ll see in his bio. He’s the CEO of Knowledge Management Services, based in Millbrook, AL, and is also an owner and the publisher of online crappie magazine, CrappieNow. He enjoys the competitive crappie tournament trails and was a Crappie Masters Angler of the Year team member in both 2011 and 2012. He fishes at crappie events all across the country and is also a national seminar speaker on the species. For 2018, he’s teaming with his wife, Sue, along the tournament trails.
Eureka, MO, angler Jim Dant may live near St. Louis, but his passion for crappie fishing has given him several “home” lakes in Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee. He frequents Truman, Mark Twain, Lake of the Ozarks, Lake of Egypt, Carlyle Lake and Reelfoot. Dant has multiple wins to his credit along the national crappie tournament trails, but perhaps his greater accomplishment is taking youth on their first crappie fishing outings, something he does on a regular basis. “Kids need to get outside and to me that means fishing for crappie,” he says with a genuine grin. He fishes year round for the species, but especially likes the winter timeframe.
Terry Davis lives in Bloomington, IL, and guides for crappies primarily on Clinton Lake. His knowledge of the species is vast and that’s earned him tournament success in local and national competitions in and around Illinois. In 2016, he won the Crappie USA tournament on Lake Shelbyville and placed 3rd in their event on Lake of Egypt. Davis says he enjoys the crappie fishing year round, but that some of his best and most fun guide trips have been during December-February when others are at home waiting for warmer weather.
Kevin DeLong lives in Hominy, OK, meaning he doesn’t have to travel far to get to some of his favorite crappie fishing waters of Skiatook, Keystone, Oologah and Kaw lakes. A lifelong outdoorsman, Kevin has always enjoyed fishing and hunting, but his focus, or perhaps more appropriately said, his “obsession” on the species is something that has occurred in more recent years. And as we all know when that happens, you just can’t get enough of the activity. Kevin is great with his electronics and loves the “dragging” technique for catching big slabs. He’s also constantly designing and modifying artificial fish shelters.
Kent Driscoll lives near Nashville in Nolensville, TN. He’s been an avid crappie angler for more than 30 years and been fishing competitively for the species for over 15 years. Kent’s tournament fishing and his promotional role for B’n’M Poles has taken him to crappie haunts all across the country. His favorite technique is pulling crankbaits to catch summertime slabs. He’s mastered the process, beginning with the gear he uses to knowing exactly what the ideal conditions are that he’s looking for. But that’s not all Kent does; he’s a versatile angler with all the skills.
Phillip Gentry is an outdoor writer and radio show host from Taylors, SC. He is an avid crappie angler who has fished for crappie all over the country and writes the weekly tips and techniques column for B'n'M Poles. His crappie fishing articles have been published in numerous state, regional and national magazines including Carolina Sportsman magazine. Phillip hosts Upstate Outdoors, a weekly outdoors radio program which airs Saturdays Noon - 2 pm on 1063 WORD FM in the Upstate SC area.
Oklahoma’s Gene Gilliland is credited by many in bass biology circles as having written the Bible on fish care. He retired as the assistant chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation in Dec. 2013, after 31 years of service with the state agency. Since then he has been working as National Conservation Director for B.A.S.S., sitting on seats that influence local and national matters dealing with policymaking decisions impacting sport fishing, fish habitat, water quality and more. Gene is also an avid fisherman, especially enjoying the fun of bass and crappie fishing. He’s always been willing to share his knowledge from all perspectives.
John Godwin is a Louisiana native, born in Baton Rouge. Aside from his duck hunting notoriety, Godwin is an avid crappie angler. He partnered with Jay Stone for a Crappie Masters win in 2015 on Lake Caney, where they long-lined trolled their way to victory. He also enjoys fishing for the species a variety of different ways. With his vast experience as a lifetime outdoorsman in the Sportsman’s Paradise state, the affable angler has a treasury of fishing knowledge learned in Louisiana’s waters large and small, and an abundance of funny remembrances to share.
Nationally acclaimed outdoor writer and photographer Jim Gronaw was born in Baltimore and lives in Westminster, MD. His first story was published at the young age of 16, in Fishing World magazine. Since then, his work has appeared more than 700 times in local, regional, and national publications, including Outdoor Life and In-Fisherman. By his own preference, Gronaw spends more than 75% of his fishing time pursuing bluegills and crappies in and around Maryland. He has a passion for fishing small local ponds near home, but visits waters frequently throughout the region. He says the Potomac is one of the most overlooked good crappie fisheries in the area.
With the nickname “Crappie Kirby,” it’s a given that Kirby Ham knows a lot about catching crappies. The Olathe, KS, radio personality guides for the species on Kansas’ La Cynge, Hillsdale, Melvern and Clinton, and loves sharing his passion for the sport with other like-minded anglers. He’s an expert at using his electronics to find the most active strike zone and then being able to keep his baits in that zone. Beginners and avid crappie anglers alike will benefit from Ham’s extensive on-the-water knowledge.
Living and guiding full time for years on Oklahoma’s famed crappie lake, Lake Eufaula, Todd Huckabee is one of the country’s most noted authorities on the species. His knowledge comes from spending countless days on the water throughout all seasons of the year. He’s fished many of the finest crappie waters in the country, and now also guides on Oklahoma’s Ft. Gibson Lake and Arkansas’ Lake Millwood. He’s an expert at finding and catching crappies regardless of the conditions. He’s featured frequently in national magazines and on national TV shows.
One part of Team Humphrey, Greg along with his brother Luke have been chasing crappie in Central Illinois since they were kids. Family and strenuous careers have limited their ability to fish nationally but they have top 15 finishes in Missouri and Indiana and recently in 2016 brought home a 2nd place finish in the Semi Pro division of the Crappie USA event on Lake Shelbyville. Staying close to home Greg and Luke are members of the oldest Crappie Club in America, Springfield Crappie Club and are also members of the Central Illinois Crappie Club. They have numerous wins on these local trails and pride themselves on being able to find fish faster than the rest. With an average of six hours or less to prefish, Greg and Luke have to do their preparation at home. They are two of the best when it comes to studying and patterning crappie off the water. Couple this with several techniques they have in there arsenal, you may find jigging rods, dock shooting rods, and trolling rods spread out in their boat on tournament day. Being able to adapt on tournament day with several techniques is why they coin themselves “hybrids”.
David Jones says he “hails from the great state of Kentucky and literally grew up with a fishing pole in his hands on the banks of Green River Lake,” the place he calls his “office” today. Jones has lived his entire life in Adair County. For the past 19 years, he has owned and operated his own fishing guide service. He takes great pride in the time and devotion he has committed to learning about crappie fishing, and sharing that information through guide trips and promotional opportunities. He won the Crappie USA National Championship in 2014. He had a 1st and 3rd in 2017 events, pushing his total for Top 10 finishes to over 20.
Stokes McClellan of Huntersville, NC, is like a walking encyclopedia of crappie fishing how-tos. He’s as skilled at dock shooting as he is long lining, and most every other technique in between, so versatility is his game for being able to catch crappies throughout the year in a variety of conditions and waters. Stokes knows the science of lure depth depending on line weight, lure size, lure style, jighead size and boat speed, so he attributes that knowledge to being able to keep his lure in identified active strike zones and that results in more fish in the boat. He’s a featured speaker at many crappie seminars annually and frequents the pages of the country’s top fishing magazines and websites referencing crappies
Leon Mears lives near Keystone Lake in Oklahoma, a place where he watched his home burn to the ground during devastating wildfires in the area 5 years ago. His thoughtful, rock-steady and patient demeanor in rebuilding his home mirrors his approach to fishing. In his 70s, Leon knows a lot about catching crappies from a lifetime of pursuing the species. When he speaks, we suggest you listen because what he is saying is fact … tested, refined and proven over and over again. He does have his favorite signs to forecast a good fishing trip, but says there’s no such thing as a bad time to go fishing.
Joey Mines is in his 35th year of hosting the Outdoor With Joey Mines TV Show, one of the country’s longest running programs of all time. He is also a crappie guide on Georgia’s West Point Lake, a place with which he’s quite familiar having lived in nearby LaGrange for the past 38 years. He’s always stayed true to the idea of family and children learning about the outdoors, constantly sharing his own knowledge and expertise through television, guide trips and seminars. Joey brings a sense of humor and “country charm” to all that he does to appeal to all audiences. And his presentations leave no doubt that he definitely knows what he’s talking about.
The Deepwater, MO, angler loves his home waters of Truman Lake but has fished for the species all across the country. Morrow is a retired school superintendent and wresting coach that has transformed his educational spirit to become the “The Crappie Coach” who shares his passion for slabs on and off the water everywhere he goes. He has been featured on television’s Sportsman’s Channel, guides for crappie and competes along the professional crappie trails. He has won three Crappie Masters events and is a two-time winner of the Missouri State Championship.
Ken Myers is a Louisiana native and lifetime angler who lives in Choudrant, LA. He’s an accomplished crappie tournament competitor with two Top 10 finishes along the Crappie Masters and American Crappie Trails in 2017, and qualifying for national championships in both. He also has won multiple regional events. Myers relies heavily on the technique called “spider rigging,” having refined his approach from a combination of what he’s learned from other experts across the country with his own experiences. He said every crappie angler should know how to spider rig and can do so without going overboard in gearing up for it.
Jordan Newsome of Iron Station, NC, has developed a knack of matching soft plastic bodies and colors to the right jighead sizes and colors for catching crappies deep by long-line trolling. Some of it comes from his experience as a tournament bass angler, some has come from tutoring by seasoned crappie tournament partner Stokes McClellan and a lot has come from spending many long hours experimenting with the various combinations on waters in and around the Carolinas. He says you don’t have to be a tournament angler to benefit from some basic formulas that help him start his selections and then be able to make adjustments accordingly.
Lee Pitts is a full-time guide that spends countless hours on some of northeast Alabama’s best-known crappie lakes, including Weiss and Guntersville. He’s adept at every crappie fishing technique imaginable, but is considered one of the country’s true masters of the presentation known as “dock shooting.” Lee says the technique was once something only a few skilled anglers with nimble fingers could do, but explains recent advancements in rods and accessories have made it possible for almost everyone to enjoy now. Lee shares his knowledge of how to practice the technique to achieve accuracy, what to look for in “targets” and where you can apply the skill beyond just fishing around docks.
Born and raised in Texas and growing up around some of the states finest fishing lakes for crappies, including Lake Fork and Tawakoni, James was introduced to fishing at an early age by his father. And also like his dad, he enjoyed the competitive nature of tournament fishing. What really honed his skills in the beginning was doing most of his fishing from a float tube. That meant keying in on prime areas for each outing knowing you’d have to spend most of the day there, and then learning from the dissection of every piece of cover fished. The lessons learned have sculpted James into a knowledgeable crappie angler with the versatile skillset to be able to quickly adjust to changing conditions. He’s a proud member of the Crappie Anglers of Texas club.
Jay Don and Rhonda Reeve of Gun Barrel, Texas, understand the value of known fishing partners; they’ve been married for 35 years. Since 2008, they’ve been accumulating an impressive collection of competition hardware from the various national crappie trails fished and also from the Crappie Anglers of Texas club that they helped develop to promote fishing for the species. They’ve enjoyed traveling together to fish new waters and as a result have streamlined an approach that has become an effective tool for finding and catching crappies when fishing a new body of water for the very first time. Team Reeve proudly display the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) logo on clothing and wraps to raise awareness for the organization’s cause. Rhonda is a stage-3 ovarian cancer survivor.
Kevin Rogers lives in Pleasant Hill, MO, and loves Truman Lake but don’t be surprised if you see him in your state on any given weekend because he’s constantly visiting favorite haunts in Texas and Oklahoma, and checking out new waters elsewhere. He and Dad “Charlie” team often in tournaments and new-crappie-hole explorations, and as a result the two are among the best-known crappie fishermen in the country. They have more than 30 professional wins across five states. They have mastered the “Run and Gun” technique for crappie, but also have great versatility.
Dan Saknini lives on Lake Lanier in Georgia. He started the Lanier Crappie Anglers Club in 2011. He has worked with the Corps of Engineers on numerous conservation projects. He has assisted in promoting fishing to kids, seniors and those with special needs. Dan has also donated many fishing trips to the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, United Way, Junior Achievers, and other charitable organizations. He’s a regular contributor to the Georgia Wildlife Department’s fishing report for Lake Lanier. Among the many crappie fishing techniques that he relies on most, he says dock shooting remains one of his true favorites. “Making a shot into a tiny spot is a great feeling of accomplishment; being rewarded by a “thump” afterward is the ultimate bonus.”
Kyle Schoenherr lives is Oakdale, IL, and is a full-time professional crappie angler and guide. He is widely considered one of the top tournament pros in the country by his fellow competitors and from media sources such as Crappie NOW and CrappieCrazy.com. His All Seasons Crappie Fishing Guide Service frequents Illinois’ Rend Lake, Kinkaid and Lake of Egypt, allowing clients to choose among jigging, fishing with a slip bobber or spider rigging in order to fit preferences or learning a desired technique. Among his many tournament trophies are the 2015 Crappie National Championship on Kentucky Lake, TN, and 2015 Crappie USA National Championship on Patoka Lake, IN.
Jeff Schwieterman of Parker, Texas, near Dallas is accomplished at all crappie techniques but says jig fishing standing timber is his favorite. It’s a skill he has used to claim tournament awards on lakes out of and in Texas, including Lake Fork and Ray Roberts. But his preference for crappie came when he moved to Texas in 2002 from Ohio, where he grew up fishing with his dad and uncle and fished his first bass tournament during college. Today, Jeff is active in Crappie Anglers of Texas and enjoys honing his crappie angling skills and experimenting with new techniques every chance he gets on his home lake, Lavon.
Doug Sikora of Noblesville, IN, is as good of a boat crappie angler as they come … his trophy collection of top tournament finishes across multiple state lines is proof. However, Doug is especially passionate about ice fishing for the species. His favorite approach is to travel light and walk as far as is needed to get to the best spots and then drill a lot of holes. But even before the “lots of holes” there is a method to his madness and the keys to his success. He’s one of the great crappie fishing communicators as to what works to catch more crappies and why. All you need to do is listen and learn to improve your catching success.
Barry Stokes is a native Texan who has been fishing since his dad taught him at age 5. Stokes is the former host of "Outdoor Trails," one of the longest running shows in the history of televised fishing, and "Southwest Outdoors" radio on WBAP in Texas. In 2003, he started his popular “Fox Sports Southwest” television show with its news-style format that provides weekly fishing news and reports for Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. In recent years, the show has expanded under the name Fox Sports Outdoors. He is an avid crappie angler who enjoys visiting and fishing new waters on a frequent basis. To do so AND get a TV show during his frequent first-time, single day outing, he must be able to find and catch fish in short order. He has a proven menu of things he does for success and the willingness to share it.
George Toalson of Claremore, OK, is a retired school teacher who continues his educational ways by combining them with with his fishing prowess to help anglers of all ages catch more fish. Toalson grew up fishing with his dad and the passion for the sport led to his second career as production manager and lure designer at Gene Larew/Bobby Garland lure company in Tulsa. Toalson has fishing knowledge learned above the water as an angler and below the surface from years of scuba diving, both contributing to his development of new lures and colors. George likes to cast soft plastics for crappies, and has great success doing that on his favorite Oklahoma waters of Grand Lake, Hudson and Ft. Gibson.
Clark Wendlandt lives in Leander, Texas, and has competed along the FLW and Bassmaster tournament trails for more than 25 years. In addition to being a three-time FLW Angler of the Year, he has 40 Top 10 finishes, 4 wins and 17 Cup appearances. He has qualified for four Bassmaster Classics and collected 16 Top 10 finishes in B.A.S.S. events. He has also won the Ranger Cup Award three times and is a three-time medalist at the ESPN Great Outdoor Games. Wendlandt is host of the Fishing and Hunting Texas television show, a guest host for Cabela’s Fisherman’s Handbook and is a part of the Americana Outdoors TV Show pro staff.
Moore, OK, angler Bill Wright is responsible for a patent-pending bass fishing rig called the Okie Rig, a name given to it by legendary TV fishing show host Jimmy Houston while filming a segment with Wright. Wright is an avid bass angler who spends a lot of his fishing time on Oklahoma lakes Konawa and Eufaula, the latter being where he holds the lake record largemouth of 11 lbs. 14 ounces caught in 2012. His logic for the new creation that keeps a bait near the bottom and is easily fished on spinning gear with braid, makes perfect sense and he has the proof of when, where and how of fishing it to catch more bass in all seasons.