The first Ned Rutledge and Bobby Garland Memorial Crappie Tournament is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 19, on Missouri’s Truman Lake in honor of the late Ned Rutledge and Bobby Garland to benefit the National Stroke Association (NSA).

The one-day crappie tournament is a team format open to one or two anglers per boat, with a $75 per team entry fee required for participation, which includes a $10 entry into the big fish competition. Prize payouts are based on 80 percent of the entry fees going toward team prizes and 20 percent being presented as a donation to the NSA. Big crappie is 100 percent payout.

Gene Larew Lures, makers of Bobby Garland crappie baits and who purchased the Garland crappie brand from the Rutledges a few years ago, has additionally guaranteed supplemental first and second place cash payouts of $500 and $250, respectively. The company will also award a $250 cash prize to a registered team selected by random drawing.

Rutledge was an avid crappie angler who was passionate about recreational and tournament fishing for the species. Garland was a pioneer in the soft plastic lure business, introducing many creative bait designs for bass and crappie over his lifetime.

The Rutledges acquired the Garland name and rights for the crappie business from their good friend and neighbor Bobby Garland in 2002. Rutledge passed away Feb. 22, 2013. Complications from strokes had challenged his speech and mobility and ultimately led to his death.

Garland, who died seven years earlier, but only one day a part from Rutledge, on Feb. 21, 2006, also dealt with speech loss and a broken hip following a major stroke.

Betty Rutledge credits one of the original Bobby Garland pro staff teams, Charlie and Kevin Rogers, for coming up with the idea of the crappie tournament to honor her late husband and the namesake lure designer, and benefit other stroke victims. The benefit tournament is to become an annual event.

“This isn’t a fundraiser for Ned and Bobby, but a way to help make people realize that strokes are something very serious and that the National Stroke Association needs our help in all that they do,” she explained. “The Rogers and so many wonderful fishing friends have stepped forward in support and that alone makes me feel good.”

Truman Lake was chosen as the venue for the event because “this is where it all started,” Rutledge said. “Truman has been our home for years, and even when we lived elsewhere, it was still our favorite crappie lake that we frequented often,” she added.

Kevin Rogers says the tournament is coming to Truman at one of his favorite times of the year.

“Fishing has been excellent here for a while and seems like crappie are everywhere right now. One pattern is to catch them in about 3 feet of water on flats, but the more productive choice is catching the crappie suspended at about 8 feet deep on creek channel breaks of 12-15 feet,” Rogers volunteered.

Tournament fishing hours are from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 19. Live and artificial baits are allowed. The fish limit per team is seven crappie, and they must be alive. Launch sites are the choice of participants, but all must have checked in by 3 p.m. at the weigh-in location at Bucksaw Marina and Resort. The weigh-in is being conducted by the Bass Pro Shops Crappiemasters tournament organization.

Food and drinks will be available during the weigh-in, and a live auction fundraiser to benefit the NSA will follow the weigh-in activities. Among the many auction items are a Tite-Lok Trolling System and a guided crappie trip on Mississippi’s Lake Sardis with Zic Finkley.

Tournament registration is open now and the entry forms can be found and downloaded at www.BobbyGarlandCrappie.com. Completed forms can be mailed in advance to Tightwad Bait and Tackle in Clinton, Mo., or anglers can register at the tackle shop the morning of the tournament between 5:30 and 7 a.m.

For more information about the crappie tournament, contact Betty Rutledge at crappietown@gmail.com. For more information about the National Stroke Association, visit www.stroke.org.

Image courtesy Dollahon PR

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