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3/6/22 Truman Lake Guide, Kyler Beckmann, wins ACT event at the Alabama River

Millbrook, AL  – Alabama River

While we were experiencing freezing temperatures here in Missouri, some of the nation’s best crappie anglers were gearing up for the first American Crappie Trail event of the year on the Alabama River taking place February 18-19th.

Among the field of anglers was one of Truman Lake’s and Truman Lake Fishing Intel’s very own, Kyler Beckmann. Like many of the other competitors, Kyler arrived about a week ahead of time for practice, which was open from February 14-17th.

“We had four days to practice, but I took the last day off so I could be well-rested for the first day,” Beckmann said.

He had plenty of time in the first three practice days to check creeks and various channels of the river. Throughout practice, he searched for standing timber in the creeks, but there weren’t many fish other than some roamers.

“That’s just how rivers are,” Beckmann observed. “They are so sporadic and always changing with water level.”

By the time tournament day rolled around, that would prove to be true once again. The river jumped up eight feet higher by the end than what it had been the first day of practice. So, Beckmann went back to work on his graphs utilizing sidescan and down imaging on the main river. Luckily, he located some eddies that were holding some big, black crappie just out of the heavy current.

Despite the changing conditions, Beckmann’s confidence remained.

“I actually thought I was going to catch them better than what I ended up doing,” he said. “Pretty much it turned out to be just a timing thing. I figured out my rotation of spots throughout the day, many of which were all very different, and just kept making my rounds.”

On many occasions, he fished a spot and they weren’t biting, but would revisit only a couple hours later and it would be game on. His go-to bait was the 3/16ths Probuilt jig with a Crappie Monster Small Fry in Ozark/Smoke or a chartreuse back with white belly. He only caught one on a minnow the whole tournament.

On the Alabama River, which Beckmann compared to the upper end of Lake of the Ozarks, he had to fish a little bit differently, utilizing the current to make his presentation. For example, certain eddies on the main river channel had back current. That required him to position his boat in a way where he could drop the jig in the water and feed line as the current carried the bait towards the fish.

Although he won the tournament by over two pounds, day one did not start off how he would have hoped.

“On day one, I only had one fish in the livewell by 11:30 in the morning. I literally did not catch a fish before that,” Beckmann recalled.

Still, his confidence remained. He changed gears and bounced over to a “community hole” in Swift Creek, where he had started earlier in the morning. At that time, the fish weren’t very active, causing him to leave the spot after only 20 minutes. But on his next visit around noon, that all changed.

Within 15 minutes, he had a limit of fish in the livewell. With some security in the boat, he moved back to the main river searching for giants that could cull out what he had.

“It was early when I got to Swift in low light conditions, and they just weren’t up yet the first time,” Beckmann stated. “Most were still tight to the bottom and you couldn’t make them bite, but when that sun came up, that really changed things when I went back the second time.”

On the river, the fish were tight to structure or right on the bottom. Beckmann focused his efforts on fish sitting from 8-20 feet deep.

Fast forward to day two, and it was a completely different story. Beckmann started right on the main river in a spot he had seen several big fish holding that he hoped would still be there despite the continued rise in water. As fate would have it, they were.

“My first four pitches I caught three fish over two pounds and one that was a 1.60,” Beckmann said. That was before 7:30am.

“At that point I thought, oh man, we are going to wreck them today,” Beckmann joked afterwards.

He continued to grind out the day, pulling several key fish on the main river before finishing out in Swift Creek. He caught his last weigh-in fish there with only 15 minutes to go.

Beckmann finished the tournament weighing 14 fish totaling 26.36 pounds, which included a tie for big fish weighing 2.70 pounds. The second place winner finished with 24.30 pounds total weight. In the end, Beckmann took home $12,750 in total tournament winnings.

“It felt really good to pull this one off,” Beckmann said. “I’ve had a lot of close calls in the past few years finishing in 2nd and 3rd place, so it’s really special to finally get the win.”

Photos courtesy of American Crappie Trail Facebook Page

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