For the second straight year a Perry County resident is one half of the 2012 Crappie Masters team, as they again captured the overall points title.
Viper resident Bill Braswell and his partner Dan Dannenmueller, of Watumpka, Alabama, remained in the lead in points throughout most of the crappie season, and are becoming the team to beat in professional crappie fishing with their back-to-back championship seasons.
Braswell is a retired Fish and Wildlife officer who said in an interview last year he just wanted to try professional fishing for fun after retiring. So far his retirement has kept him quite busy, and after this year’s win he said he will only be getting busier.
“The titles have brought us a lot more recognition,” said Braswell.
Last year Braswell and Dannenmueller had a difficult place to start from, but they were able to fight back to claim the title. So when they kicked off this season in a better position, they were confident they could win the overall points victory.
“We might have been in the top 30 when we started last year,” said Braswell. “When we started out this year we were third.”
And since last year’s tournament season was a bit more of a struggle for the championship, Braswell said they weren’t initially going to concentrate on the title.
“Because we got off to such a great start we just sort of just kept looking at it real close,” said Braswell. “After about three or four tournaments we actually were in the lead; we thought we should just go for it.”
While they will not get the official trophy and title until the Crappie Classic in October, Braswell said he has already seen an increase in the amount of publicity that he and his partner have gotten since their wins. They have been asked to do presentations and come to trade shows regularly.
“We get a lot more invitations to do seminars and things like that,” said Braswell.
Braswell has some big ideas for the sport, and for this area’s crappie anglers. He said he is working on getting some local sponsors that would be interested in helping him promote both their businesses and the sport.
Over the last few years crappie fishing has taken off due to the availability of fishing and the number of people angling for the fish, which has a healthy population is known as a scrappy fighter and fun to fish for. One of the major ways that crappie has taken off is with the introduction of Crappie Masters Television.
This station dedicated to fishing crappie was only available on one TV provider last year, but since then it was been picked up by several.
“It was only being covered by Direct TV,” said Braswell, who is a regular on just about every show on the channel. “Since then it was introduced this past January in the Dish Network market and some of the other cable markets.”
This week Braswell could be seen at the ICast Show in Orlando where he will be working out his contract with his main sponsor, Gary Yamamoto Custom Bates, for the 2013 season. Once he gets this sponsorship secured he is planning on having meetings with local sponsors and working on possibly getting a Crappie Master Tournament in Kentucky.
“Crappie Masters hasn’t had anything in Kentucky,” Braswell noted. “They have wanted to. Crappie Masters USA is actually based in Kentucky. At this show I am planning on meeting with a contact about having a tournament in Kentucky.”
Braswell said that while he is pleased with how the last two seasons have turned out for him and his partner as far as being over all points champions and becoming ambassadors for the sport. They are planning on taking a different approach to next year’s tournament season. Winning in points often means settling for many smaller fish instead of going for the larger fish. Braswell said that he and his partner are ready to change up their strategy and go for the larger fish.
“We probably won’t try for the championship next year,” said Braswell. “We feel like a couple of tournaments we might have had a better shot of winning a tournament had we gone after the bigger fish, but had we gone after the bigger fish we might not have done good in the tournament overall.”
No matter their strategy they have made a splash on crappie fishing and are still looking to do more.