There is a chapter of a unique bass fishing tournament trail with headquarters in Ruston, a circuit that targets both bass and bass fishermen. The North-Central Louisiana chapter of the Fishers of Men circuit is overseen by insurance executive, Brent Crawford, and along with participants trying their hand at catching bass, Crawford’s focus comes straight out of the Bible.
Matthew 4:19 nails it down….”And He saith unto them, Follow me and I’ll make you Fishers of Men.”
“In addition to providing a competitive atmosphere for anglers to test their skills at catching a winning bag of bass, our main goal is to present the Gospel to participants,” Crawford explained.
The tournament trail began in 1998 by Al Odom in South Carolina with the format of a Friday night meeting in which Scripture and testimonies were shared followed by the actual tournament the next day. The Fishers of Men circuit has grown into one of the largest team tourneys in the U.S. today. The North-Central Louisiana chapter recently concluded its sixth season.
“We just finished this year’s tournament trail with Kenny and Courtney Harris winning the overall title for the year. They earned an automatic berth in the National Championship where they’ll compete for prize packages valued at more than $120,000,” Crawford added.
The North Central Louisiana chapter holds its tournaments on Lakes D’Arbonne, Claiborne, Caney and the Ouachita River. Next year’s circuit begins in February with five tournaments planned plus a Big Bass Open tournament on Lake D’Arbonne.
I first became aware of this tournament trail when I heard about the Ruston duo of Martin Elshout and Mark Price who have experienced phenomenal success on the trail.
“These two guys have won three of the six team championships we have held so far; they are stout in their ability to locate and catch bass,” said Crawford.
In today’s economy, having a group of supporting sponsors is the key to success. Fortunately, a solid group of national and local sponsors enable the local chapter to pay out enough prize money to attract good anglers.
“We’re working now to try and align enough sponsors to guarantee a good first place prize for each event, something like $2,500. We hope to be able to do this regardless of whether there are 10 boats or 30 boats fishing,” he added. (For more information about sponsorship, contact Crawford at 318.548.4196 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Crawford who earns his living in the insurance business, receives no compensation for his work with the Fishers of Men tournament trail.
“It’s like a part-time job that is my ministry. My biggest responsibility is to locate and secure speakers for our Friday night events, keeping in mind that many of our anglers are not likely to be in church on Sundays. If a speaker comes in with suit and tie and starts a typical Bible-thumping sermon, many of these guys will be turned off. This is why these meetings are not held in church sanctuaries. Recently,” said Crawford”, we held our Friday night meeting at the Exhibition Center north of Ruston. A guy can come out dipping Skoal or puffing a cigarette in a setting that smells of horse manure and he’s more comfortable."
A tip of the hat to Brent Crawford for his dedication in fishing for men while contestants fish for bass.