Crappie Masters — the nation's premier crappie fishing tournament series — purchased by former college bass angler

Illinois man who purchased group also co-owns Ozark Rods

Josh Rouse
Topeka Capital-Journal
Blake Jackson, of Illinois, announced this past week his purchase of the Crappie Masters All American Tournament Trail.

The Crappie Masters All American Tournament Trail, one of the largest and most renowned fishing tournament series in the United States, is now under new management.

The professional fishing organization, of which the Kansas Crappie Trail is a state affiliate, announced March 18 via Facebook that it had been sold by previous owner Mike Vallentine, of Clinton, Mo., and will now be owned and operated by Blake Jackson, of Carterville, Ill.

The move comes just weeks after a record-setting tournament March 12-13 on Grenada Lake in Mississippi, during which North Newton's Frank Haidusek posted a 39.39-pound, two-day bag on the Mississippi reservoir to finish eighth. During that event, more than 45 teams weighed individual crappies weighing 3-plus pounds.

Jackson, who fished collegiately with the McKendree College bass team, now owns a pair of bait shops in Southern Illinois — the Crappie Pro Shop in Carterville and Lake Zone Bait and Tackle in Whittington — as well as being part-owner of Ozark Rods.

“I’ve fished the collegiate level, all growing up, throughout high school and college I’ve fished. You know, traveling around, I’ve really enjoyed it and that’s kinda what led me to it,” Jackson said.

He said while he isn’t looking to make any major changes this season, he does have some big things in mind for the future of Crappie Masters.

“We’ve got some new things we’re working on ... but for right now everything will pretty much stay the same,” Jackson said.

Jackson said among his long-term goals for the trail will be to increase the amount of tournament options available to anglers and expand into different regions. He also is looking to help provide more educational opportunities for crappie anglers to learn from the best in the sport.

“The growth of it is definitely on the rise,” Jackson said. “I think with all the technology that’s out there, crappie anglers are really making a big push and the numbers are increasing. All the companies in the industry are really able to produce great products, from all the different rods out there to electronics, boats, baits, the whole crappie industry is definitely growing.”

He said as a former high school and collegiate tournament angler, he’d like to see crappie fishing expand into those areas, as well, the way bass fishing has in recent years.

“I think there’s always that potential,” Jackson said. “I don’t see that in the near future, but down the road I think we’ll definitely see it eventually make it to that point where that opportunity is there. But, you know, for right now, it’s more of the state trail events, weekend events where it’s open to the public, you know. 

“So if you are in high school or college, you’re more than welcome to come out and fish some of our events as they are set right now.”

For more information about Crappie Masters, contact Jackson at 618-201-5280 or by email at