LiveScope Giveaway Highlights ACC x FishUSA Presence at Expo
By Greg McCain
Billed as “the largest crappie show on earth,” the Crappie Expo 2023 travels to the heart of some of the best fishing in the country this week.
The latest edition of the Crappie Expo takes place in Birmingham, AL, Friday through Sunday (Sept. 22-24). Held previously in Branson, MO (twice), Shreveport, LA, and Hot Springs, AR, the Expo and accompanying tournament bring together the biggest gathering of vendors in crappie fishing, plus many of the top competitive anglers as well. The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) houses the Expo. The tournament, the Mr. Crappie Invitational Crappie Classic, takes place on Logan Martin Lake, a Coosa River impoundment east of Birmingham.
“From a business standpoint, it’s definitely the biggest show,” said ACC Crappie Stix owner Andy Lehman. “We get to see the greatest number of customers. We get to go to different areas of the country, so we get to see new customers from different places. That’s one reason that we’re looking forward to the Birmingham Expo.
“We also get to be friends with new customers and with other business owners. It’s always good to see other people in the business and how they are doing things. You learn from experiences like this.”
As usual, ACC will have a presence both at the Expo and in the tournament. Along with pro staff members from across the country, Andy will man the booth, meet and greet customers, and promote the distinctive line of green ACC rods and other company products.
“The Expo is going to offer some great exposure,” said pro staff member Caleb Hensley (903 Fishing on YouTube and other social media platforms), who will also fish the tournament. His tournament partner is Matthew Rowan. “I’ve already had fans saying they were going to meet me at the Expo. This is a one-in-a-life opportunity to meet those fans, so I’m definitely looking forward to meeting them and also to promoting the ACC line of products.”
A major part of the event for ACC will be a giveaway, in this case, not just any nice product but one of epic proportions. One lucky visitor who registers at the ACC booth (#A29) has the chance to win a top-of-the-line Garmin LiveScope forward-facing sonar package.
“It’s an 8612 Garmin LiveScope with black box and transducer; everything you need,” Andy said. “We’re doing it in conjunction with FishUSA. who will be in the booth next to us. It’s a top-of-the-line unit, not a starter unit that you want to trade up or sell. It’s the real deal.”
The ACC booth will also feature various models in their rod line for sale, including the new one-piece, 7’ casting rods.
“An Expo of this scale is a great way to showcase our rods both to new and existing customers,” Andy said.
At least four ACC teams will compete in the Mr. Crappie Invitational. The tournament blasts off at 6:45 each day from Lincoln’s Landing, just off I-20 about 40 miles from Birmingham. The weigh-ins start at 3:00 each of the first two days at Lincoln’s Landing with the final day weigh-in starting at 4:00 in the BJCC.
“It’s always a challenge because so many good tournament fishermen are coming together,” said Louisiana pro staff member Justin Smart. “This one will be my third. We (Justin and fellow ACC pro staffer Wesley Miller) got second two years ago on the Red River, and I’m looking forward to the challenge this year.”
This time around, Justin will fish with Travis Brown, who finished in the top 25 last year at Branson and Table Rock Lake. Other ACC teams other than Caleb and Justin include the Texas duo of Kyron Washington and Kennieth Pierce, plus Alabama’s Jonathan Phillips and his son.
For all except Jonathan, the tournament represents their first time fishing on Logan Martin.
“It’s a pretty cool experience to be in the state, to be in Alabama,” Kyron said after a day of pre-fishing earlier in the week. “Being here and also being able to do what I love to do, it’s a double-plus.”
The pairing of Kyron (4HG Fishing Charters guide service) and Kennieth (Hook City TV on YouTube and other social media platforms) has made an impression on crowds in past tournaments associated with the Expo, not only in terms of quality finishes but also in their presentation of faith on stage.
“I always want to make a good showing, but it’s much bigger than me,” Kennieth said. “I’m so happy that I am able to represent Christ in fishing. It’s a blessing that I look forward to every year.”
Jonathan Phillips finds his own blessing in the fact that he can have his 10-year-old son in the boat with him. Young Wyatt Phillips is an accomplished angler despite his age, one who competed successfully alongside his dad in local tournaments earlier in the year.
“A tournament like this is hard to pass up when I can get my kid in the boat,” Jonathan said.
Among the ACC teams, Jonathan is the only member of the pro staff fishing the event who has a history on Logan Martin, a 50-mile impoundment heavily influenced by current, especially on the upper end near Neely Henry Dam. The Logan Martin Dam is located just south of Pell City, AL.
Docks, the lake is filled with them on the lower end, will be a major target for tournament competitors along with the brushpiles that surround them. However, plenty of open-water fish will likely come into play as well.
“Docks will definitely be a target,” Jonathan said. “It’s definitely a dock lake. But there will be fish caught in various ways, not just on docks.”
Jonathan, who teamed with his wife, Alicia, to win a tournament on Logan Martin a few years ago, said finding fish will not be a problem. He said finding the right tournament-quality fish and getting them to bite may be more of a challenge.
He said good decision-making will come into play, at least partially because of the lengthy nature of the impoundment.
“Time management is a big issue and whether you go north or south, that’s when you get into trouble,” Jonathan said. “Taking that initial right or left out of the ramp can either help or be detrimental.”
Andy said the Expo, tournament, and other events complement each other well. For a full Expo schedule, visit www.crappieexpo.com/docs/schedule.pdf.
“Everybody thinks (the Expo events) are going to be bigger and better with the population density around Birmingham, plus Alabama has a lot more fishermen than Branson,” Andy said. “It should be a great weekend for crappie fishing.”