At the deadline, more than half the teams were lined up as many fished until the last possible moment. The teams could have up to seven crappie at the official weigh-in.

Brad Ruyle and Reggie Riedinger like fishing for crappie on Mark Twain Lake.

And why not?

On Saturday, the pair posted a win for the second straight year in the second leg of the Crappie Masters Missouri Championship, bring home just over nine pounds of fish at the tournament weigh-in.

The pair also won the first leg of the four-part championship last month.

“We came prepared for the lake,” said Ruyle, without giving away too many trade secrets. “We have dedicated everything to winning…we found some pretty good fish today.”

The Crappie Masters event is serious business, with nearly 70 teams from across the Midwest and the Southeast entered in the event, chasing a $4,000 prize for first place. The fishermen were participating in the second leg of Crappie Masters Missouri State Championship, with headquarters at Chigger Hill Bait and Tackle in Stoutsville.

The teams put in the lake at 6:30 a.m. and had to be in the line for weigh-in by 4 p.m. At the deadline, more than half the teams were lined up as many fished until the last possible moment. The teams could have up to seven crappie at the official weigh-in.

And though the conditions were not ideal, many teams produced five and six pounds of fish.

The teams competing in the competing in Saturday’s event could not complain about the weather. The temperature was around 60 degrees when they launched their boats at 6:30 a.m. for the day of competition, and the mild conditions remained during the day.

However, many competitors said that conditions were tough because of low lake levels because of a lack of rain and a draw-down conducted by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The conditions were a stark contrast to 2016, when several days of rain left the lake extraordinarily high with debris floating all around.

Mike Brown said he and his partner spent much of the day chasing the elusive big crappie.

“We simply could not get any big fish,” he said. “The weather was great but the fishing was tough. The draw-down of the lake pulled the fish off the flats where you normally find them.”

Donald Zufall and James Dant finished fourth in the tournament. Two weeks ago, they were the champions of the final Shack Crappie tournament, which was headquartered in Paris.

Zufall said Saturday’s competition was more intense than the Shack Crappie event.

“These guys, they are good fishermen,” he said. “We had a good day but only got a couple of really big fish.”

Saturday’s tournament is a qualifier for the national Crappie Masters tournament, scheduled for Sept. 20-23 in Greenville, Miss. The top 10 teams in the Missouri Championship legs will qualify for the national tournament.