Famed walleye pro captures 2013 Crappie Masters National Championship fishing from his Ranger 620VS walleye tournament boat 

Ranger pro Tommy Skarlis displayed his mastery of multispecies angling when he and partner Kyle Steinfeldt won the 2013 Crappie Masters National Championship on Mississippi’s Grenada Lake on September 28. Skarlis, a longtime fixture on the professional walleye tournament trails, competed in the event out of his signature Ranger 620VS – the same boat he uses to tackle the rough waters of Lake Erie and other northern fisheries while on tour.

Skarlis and Steinfeldt began their foray into professional crappie fishing on somewhat of a whim, fishing their first Crappie Masters tournament on nearby Lake Rathburn in June. In advance of the event, Skarlis said he received a crash course in spider-rigging, which propelled the team to a 12th-place finish and qualification into the National Championship. Once on Lake Grenada, however, the team determined that fishing conditions were perfectly suited for traditional walleye tactics as the fish remained suspended in deep water and not holding close to brushpiles.

The 620VS, part of Ranger’s acclaimed Fisherman Series, proved to be the perfect multispecies platform. Rigged with planer boards, the duo trolled crankbaits as slow as one mile per hour to secure a seven-fish limit on both days of the event.

“They’re not used to seeing planer boards down there but my 620 handled the Southern reservoir just as well as it does any Northern lake,” said Skarlis. “My boat is kind of like me, I guess. It doesn’t care what species it is, it just wants to catch fish, and it has the layout and fishing features to go after them all.”

With the win, Skarlis and Steinfeldt claimed a pair of fully rigged prize boats and $1,344 for weighing in the largest crappie of the tournament (2.67 pounds). They now take the crappie-fishing world’s biggest honor back with them to their native Iowa. “The fact that we did a bunch of stuff we’d never done before and with the learning curve and the newness of it all, I don’t know if I truly understand the magnitude of this feeling,” Skarlis said.

Historically a tournament dominated by Southern anglers, Skarlis and Steinfeldt also became the northern-most anglers to win the Crappie Masters National Championship, which they did by a margin of more than two pounds.

Logo courtesy Ranger Boats/Blue Heron Communications

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