October 7, 2012 1:06:26 AM
Charlie and Travis Bunting joked Thursday that they would have to come back to Columbus if they had good fortune to win the Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters National Championship.
Now the next time the Buntings return to Columbus they will come back as champions.
The father-son team from Jefferson City, Mo., mixed precision with activity Saturday, posting a weight of 9.10 pounds Saturday and a total weight of 19 pounds to win the two-day event on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.
"We slow-trolled sitting dead still and pulled up to the brush piles and then put our Power Poles down," Charlie Bunting said. "We would put the lines straight down so we could hold dead still and we could sit there with a trolling motor and just tap it and hold it.
"That boat is so steady. He can sit there with that trolling motor and this wind wouldn't bother us."
Once the boat was positioned, Charlie said he and his son had to work their arsenal of 16 lines to get to the fish. He said they had to work their jigs and work them down through the brush to get to the bottom to find the fish. Once that happened, he said they brought it up about a quarter of a turn and once it stopped, the fish would hit it.
Charlie said the wind, cooler temperatures, and wind didn't bother them.
"A lot of people go by that, but we don't because if we have a tournament we have to fish, so we just adapt to where it is and we don't pay a whole lot of attention to the barometric pressure," Charlie Bunting said.
A week's worth of pre-fishing in a waterway they knew nothing about until they arrived in Mississippi helped them add to their haul. Travis Bunting said the two fully rigged Tracker Marine Nitro Z7 boats with 150 horsepower Mercury Motors he and his father won Saturday push their total to five since they started fishing together in 2004.
Charlie said John Mason, one of the owners of Crappie Masters, will help deliver the second boat. Ramos, who lives in Springfield, Mo., will deliver the boat once he gets back home, while the Buntings took care of transporting other boat.
Charlie said he and his son worked through 21 pounds of minnows while they were in Columbus. He said they nearly worked through four pounds of minnows Saturday and likely would have used them up if they didn't have to stop early to weigh a stressed fish. Tournament rules only allow fishermen to weigh live fish.
The Buntings spread their bait throughout the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. While other teams in the top 10 said they limited their movement on the second day, the Buntings said they hit 40-50 spots to find fish. Charlie said he and his son left the hotel at 3:30 a.m. so they could get on the water and "site image", or use their computerized fish finder to help them locate fish.
By 4:15 a.m., Charlie said the team was on the water and searching for places they hoped would pay off. A host of wildlife greeted the team as they planned their day.
"We knew about the area we wanted to fish when we went back today, but as far as looking, we were on the water all the way from the far pool all the way to the three locks," Charlie Bunting said. "After eight days we have been on it all."
Charlie joked through the initial round of interviews that the significance of winning the national championship hadn't sunk in. Nearly 15 minutes later, Charlie said he still didn't know what to say, especially since there were so many talented teams in Columbus.
"It is everybody's goal, and we finally accomplished it," Charlie said. "To be able to accomplish it with your son (is special). My wife is here, too. I just wish I had all my grandkids here, too."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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