Before last weekend, Perry Lake had never been too kind to Frank Haidusek.
He competed in several crappie tournaments at the 11,150 -acre reservoir in northeast Kansas, but he never fared that well.
“Let’s put it this way. Perry has never been one of my favorite crappie lakes,” said Haidusek, who lives in Riley, Kan.
But that may have changed after what transpired over the weekend in the Kansas State Crappie Championship. Haidusek and two partners, Kalin Caton of Kansas City and Dalton Thomas of Leavenworth, teamed to catch 14 crappie weighing16.05 pounds in the two-day tournament, and took the title and $2,130.
Dustin Hobbs and Casey Kidder of Topeka took second ($1,200) with 14 crappie weighing 14,35 pounds. Brandon Manis of Topeka and Marc Shepard of Maple Hill, Kan., finished third ($900) with 14 fish totaling 13.49 pounds.
For Haidusek, who fishes on the national Crappie Masters circuit, there were few illusions of what was to come when he practiced Friday evening at Perry.
“I only caught a few crappie, and I was frustrated,” he said. “I knew Perry had some big fish, but I sure couldn’t find them.”
But a change of strategy paid off big-time.
“I decided I would have to play to my strengths,” he said. “I fish the timber at Truman a lot, and I was comfortable doing that.
“We went to the Slough Creek arm of Perry, which has a lot of timber, and we fished the way I do at Truman.”
Namely, they dipped jigs along the timber in an off-shore tree line and along other flooded trees where they marked fish and baitfish on their electronics.
They used bright colors in the murky water – a white and chartreuse and pink and white Top Secret Toad Tamer, a junebug color jig made by Spike-It, and orange jig heads made by Mad Crappie.
The winning team needed some last-hour dramatics to seal the win. Caton caught the team’s two largest fish in the last 45 minutes Sunday, and the team came in with a solid tournament limit.
The tournament featured 17 of the best teams of crappie fishermen in Kansas. Qualifiers from the Kansas Crappie Club and the Kansas Crappie Trail competed.
Photo cutline: Kalin Caton, Frank Haidusek and Dalton Thomas (from left) displayed part of their winning catch in the Kansas Crappie State Championship.