There’s two new names at the top of the leaderboard as of last weekend on the Kansas Crappie Trail.
Gardner’s Tony Niemeyer and Louisburg’s Ryan German jumped to the top spot in the KCT season points race following the June 13 tournament at Perry Reservoir.
The kicker: German didn’t even have to get a line wet to do it.
Niemeyer and Missouri crappie pro Matt Beckman, who stepped in to fish in German’s place at the event, teamed up to take the top spot in the season’s largest field of 25 boats with a 10.06-pound bag, including the big fish of 1.82 pounds caught by Beckman.
The pair narrowly edged out Topekan Todd Morstorf and Maple Hill’s Ryan Harman, who weighed in 9.84 pounds of fish for second. Centralia’s Ryan Allen and Manhattan’s Cliff Bammes finished third at Perry with a bag of 9.27, followed by the team of Scott Wall and Neil Purdum with 8.74 pounds in fourth.
"It was only the fourth time I'd ever been on the lake," Niemeyer said. "The weekend prior to the tournament I spent one day fishing before the lake went off limits for the week. I found two spots with good fish and our plan was to just beat up those two areas until the end. I had found 1.25-pound fish all over the lake but we just felt like that wouldn't really help, so we just planned on grinding it out until we couldn't upgrade anymore or ran out of time.
"We caught all of our fish on jigs I hand tie myself, in 16 feet of water, about 10 feet down. We didn’t really see many fish during the tournament and never really felt like we were in that good of shape. I honestly thought it would take 11-plus pounds to win."
Despite fishing beside a crappie pro in Beckman, Niemeyer said it was business as usual for the two friends at Perry.
"He is no different than anyone else," Niemeyer said. "There is no such thing as a professional crappie fisherman, in my opinion. He is just a good buddy of mine that I fish and hunt with. He has fished a few more big tournaments than me and has a couple sponsors, that's it."
With the 101 points from the win and big fish added to their season total, Niemeyer and German leapfrogged previous points leaders Mike and Eric Schrock, of Lawrence, and Frank Haidusek and Dalton Thomas, who sat in a tie with 292 points following the May 24 event at Melvern — just one point ahead of Niemeyer and German at the time. KCT organizer Dylan Faulconer, of Eudora, and Allen Miller, of Baldwin City. now sit in second place in the season standings, jumping up from fourth after trailing the lead by just two points following Melvern.
"It was actually a grind, and it seemed like everyone had the same story," said Faulconer, whose team finished fifth on Saturday. "Teams had to move around a lot but everyone was pretty limited because of wind and the massive amount of pleasure boaters."
Haidusek, of Manhattan, and Thomas, of Leavenworth, now sit in fourth place in the season standings with 381 points behind the Schrocks (384) after Haidusek sat out Saturday. Thomas finished 12th Saturday while fishing alongside Brandon Seber (7.45 pounds), while the Schrocks finished ninth with 7.90 pounds.
The rookie team of Bob Purh and Jeremy Conway finished sixth in the tournament with 8.13 pounds to increase their sizable lead in the Top Secret Jig Company Rookie of the Year standings (366 points). The pair now lead by more than 100 points over Jeff Dick and Johnny Faith (265).
With three events remaining, the KCT will now shift to Pomona Lake for an event on July 18. Registration begins at 5 a.m., with a $100 entry fee per two-person team. Takeoff will be at roughly 6 a.m. Best seven alive fish are weighed during the 2:30 p.m. weigh-in. For more information, contact Dylan Faulconer at KansasCrappieTrail@yahoo.com or 913-416-3481.