Fishing Industry News: Crappie Expo in Hot Springs; Van Dam Joins Lew's Reels

In the latest fishing industry news, the inagural Mr. Crappie Invitational is on tap in Arkansas and Hall of Fame pro angler Kevin van Dam has joined Lew's Reels.

Fishing Industry News: Crappie Expo in Hot Springs; Van Dam Joins Lew's Reels

In the latest fishing industry news:

The inaugural Mr. Crappie Invitational and Crappie Expo will be held Oct. 4-6 in Hot Springs, Ark., with $100,000 up for grabs in the tournament.

One hundred of America’s top crappie-fishing teams have been invited to compete on Lake Hamilton, one of the most popular boating and angling destinations in Arkansas. Tournament anglers will fish Friday through Sunday, with weekend weigh-ins at the Bank OZK Convention Center.

While the anglers are fishing, Bank OZK Arena will be full of exhibitors from across the country. The family-friendly expo will be full of all sorts of displays as well as vendors selling the latest lures and gear for crappie fishing.

Wally Marshall of Anna, Texas, known around the world as Mister Crappie, organized the Expo and tournament to be the largest celebration of crappie fishing in the world.

“The Crappie Expo will consist of more than 100 crappie-related companies from all over the U.S.A. displaying all of their products,” Marshall said. “We’ll have boat manufacturers, tackle dealers, fishing guides, seminar speakers, country music concerts, plus the world’s largest crappie fry."

Marshall said his vision for the expo was to hold the world’s largest crappie store under one roof for fans and vendors.

“I wanted to put something together where the people who make the lures and equipment have a chance to talk one-on-one with the anglers who use their products,” Marshall said. “Manufacturers learn all the time from anglers on how they’ve made tweaks to lures and other products to make them better, and I want to help make that happen. And any crappie fanatic looking to purchase the latest and greatest crappie products on the market will have everything right in front of them."

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Berkley Fishing will have large mobile aquariums at the Expo.

Marshall said the World’s Largest Crappie Fry will be Saturday at 11 a.m. in the parking area behind the Convention Center. Free tickets to the crappie fry will be given out at Expo booths. The free fish will be given away until the supply of fillets runs out.

Yeargin New Chairman of ORAC

Correct Craft CEO Bill Yeargin has been named chairman of the Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee which was established to advise the U.S. Secretary of the Interior on public-private partnerships across public lands and other issues related to outdoor recreation.

“I hope to help our country by working with the all-star ORAC committee to identify ways we can help more Americans enjoy outdoor recreation,” Yeargin told Trade Only Today. “This is good for the outdoor recreation industry, boating and, most importantly, the people who are having their lives and relationships enriched through outdoor recreation.”

survey from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that outdoor recreation makes up 2.2 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, generating $778 billion in gross output and supporting 5.2 million jobs. Boating/fishing was the largest outdoor activity at $20.9 billion, according to the report.

Masters Walleye Circuit Championship in Oshkosh

The Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit will cap its 35th anniversary season Oct. 3-5 with the 2019 World Walleye Championship on Lake Winnebago in Oshkosh, Wis.

“The Winnebago system is really packed with fish right now, but this will also challenge these anglers at this time of year," said tournament director Jack Baker. "These are the best-of-the best teams from last season. They will find them.”

Teams qualified via points while fishing the 2018 MWC regular-season events across the country, including the Illinois River, Detroit River, Lake Francis Case, Lake McConaughy, Lake Erie, Lake of the Woods, St. Mary’s River and Cass Lake.

Payout will be more than $100,000 in cash and prizes. Daily live weigh-ins at the Menominee Park, are free and open to the public beginning at 3 p.m. Weigh-ins also can be viewed at

Van Dam Joins Lew's After 20 Years With Quantum

Bass fishing champion Kevin Van Dam of Michigan has switched to Lew's for his rods and reels after two decades with Quantum.

“We could not be more honored to have Kevin joining the Lew’s team," said Ken Eubanks, CEO of Lew’s Holdings Corp. "The impact Kevin has had on the Strike King brand cannot be overstated, and we feel that the knowledge, expertise and respect he brings to the table will be transformational for our entire organization.”

Van Dam’s accomplishments as a competitive angler include four Bassmaster Classic titles, seven Angler of the Year titles and numerous other honors. He is a member of the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.

‘Strike King has always been like family to me, so when I heard about the acquisition of Strike King by Lew’s, I was a little apprehensive," he said. "Once I got to know the Lew’s group and realized the culture and team was so aligned with the folks I have been working with for years, I couldn’t help but be excited by the prospect of working with the entire group. Sometimes in relationships it takes a long time to develop trust and rapport, but sometimes, it just feels right.”

Orvis Launches 50/50 On the Water Film Tour

Orvis has launched a film tour as part of its 50/50 On the Water campaign aimed to inspire more women to get out on the water and discover the joys of fly fishing.

The family-friendly film tour features 90-plus minutes of storytelling, highlighting anglers and fisheries from around the world. Films include Orvis’s latest 50/50 On the Water film, as well as stories of connection, recovery and conservation that take the audience from the Smith River to Glacier National Park to Greenland and French Polynesia. Events and showings are hosted by retail and nonprofit partners and proceeds will be donated to the local nonprofit partner of their choice. A full list of the films can be found on the Orvis blog.

The tour is part of the 50/50 On the Water movement, initiated by Orvis to inspire and celebrate women in the sport. It includes women-specific gear development, education, adventure experiences, nonprofit partnerships and storytelling.

“This initiative is an industry-wide endeavor,” says Jackie Kutzer, one of the catalysts behind the 50/50 movement. “Brands across the industry came together to thoughtfully curate a collection of films that celebrate women and conservation within the sport. We wanted to make it easy for folks to create and host their own event. This will hopefully be the first of many women-centric events to keep building on our momentum of reaching gender parity in the world of fly fishing.”

Retail and nonprofit organizations interested in hosting a stop on the tour and supporting the cause can click here to sign up. Hosts receive a full event package including films, raffle prizes and marketing materials. The tour is limited to 100 events, first come, first served. Questions should be directed to


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