Acreman tackles tournament schedule head on

March 21, 2024

By Greg McCain

Bryce Acreman, one of the youngest members of the ACC Crappie Stix pro staff, has taken on the tournament scene at full speed over the last two years.

Starting from scratch in terms of tournament experience, the Louisiana angler and his father, Jeff, have competed on just about every level, from local trails to regional and national competitions. The latest event for the Acremans took place last week (Feb. 15-17) in the National Crappie League National Championship, going against some of the toughest teams from around the country.

At the end of the three-day event, held on three different lakes, Bryce and his dad were .1 of an ounce from their goal for the tournament and finished in 11th place among the 32 teams in their division.

“Even though it’s a Division I (the Open division is for more experienced pros) tournament, it’s still some of the best with guys who have been doing it a lot longer than I have,” Bryce said. “My goal was to hang in that top 10. We were in 9th going into that last day and missed it by a .1. I wasn’t too upset by that finish considering the competition that was there and as long as they have been doing it.”

Fishing two familiar venus on Days 2 and 3, Bryce found the going tough on the first day on Caney Lake, just over an hour from his home but a lake that he had not competitively crappie fished on. Caney is a clear-water lake, unusual for Louisiana, and the black crappie there proved finicky in tournament hours.

Despite the tough start on Day 1, the Acremans rebounded on Lake Darbonne on the second day, and they had another good day on Poverty Point on Day 3.

Bryce, who lives in Sterlington, LA, said the tough competition proved to be another learning experience for him. The mental approach to tournament fishing has been a key for him in his short time competing.

“Probably the main thing I’ve learned – the No. 1 goal – is to stay focused, not worrying about what other people are doing and what they are catching,” he said. “The questions (in your mind) can really get to you. It’s a mind game for me.

“As far as the mindset, I have to go in with a positive attitude and stay positive through the whole tournament whether, it’s good or bad. You can go through the whole tournament and not do well, and in the last 30 minutes, you might cull up two lbs.

The Acremans finished with a three-day total of just over 21 lbs., well behind the Div. 1 winners (over 29 lbs.) but also well ahead of some better-known teams.

Bryce said he caught all of his fish during the tournament on the prototype 15’ ACC jigging pole (scheduled for late spring/early summer availability) and on ACC jigs and plastics (new Outshined color).

The rod has changed the game for him, Bryce said.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “It’s probably one of the best rods I’ve ever held. It’s balanced rally well and super-sensitive.”

The NCL championship was among the first of a busy tournament schedule for the Acremans. Bryce said he will likely compete in 20-25 tournaments by year’s end, including potential trips to Grenada in Mississippi and Eufaula in Oklahoma.

He will do so while juggling the rigors of college at University of Louisiana-Monroe. Bryce, a freshman who will turn 20 in July, said he is taking a heavy load of classes while attending two days a week.

“It’s going pretty well, a pretty good balance,” Bryce said. “I’m in school on Tuesday and Thursday, 17 hours of classes. If that means staying up late to do school work, I’m willing to do it. But that leaves me the rest of the days to hit the water and practice.”

In addition to ACC Crappie Stix, Bryce’s other sponsors include Tactacam (best known for their game cameras but also now marketing fishing models as well), Born to Tie Jigs (Scott Bielkiewicz), MAD Fishing, and Rougaroo Tackle Co.

Among other ACC Pro Staffers competing on Feb. 17, Nick Whitten (check Crappie Adventures on Facebook for guided trip info) and regular tournament partner Michael Kirkland finished off a productive season on the Catch ‘Em Crappie circuit with a fourth-place finish (7.22 lbs.) on Lake Hatchineha on the Kissimee Chain. More importantly, they finished as Team of the Year on the trail. Nick said the winners had 8.77, a huge bag on the Kissimmee lakes.

On Weiss Lake in Alabama, pro staffer Jonathan Phillips (Team Phillips Fishing on Facebook) teamed with Brandon Threadgill and finished second in the pro division in a Crappie USA event despite brutal conditions. Winds up to 25 mph, plus rain, made fishing tough, but the crappie still bit on the Coosa River reservoir. Jonathan and partner had a 9.31, five-fish limit, .1 behind the winners.

ACC pro staffers, report your tournament results ([email protected]) each week or post to social media to be featured in a regular blog post.