Miller’s Ferry Marina, Camden, AL- Anglers’ from ages eight to eighty stood patiently in line. This was their last chance to register for the Wilcox County, Big Crappie Tournament. One big fish was not all they were hoping for though. Six, hourly big fish prizes would be awarded as well. In addition, there were over 200, tagged fish in these waters. With one special fish tagged with a $25,000 grand prize, the hunt was on. This was no ordinary tournament.
Big-Daddy Lawler’s voice boomed across the deck. “Welcome to the Getting Outdoors radio show. We are broadcasting live, from the Wilcox County Chamber Of Commerce, big crappie tournament and jackpot derby.” The marina was busy with folks buying drinks, ice, and bait. Handshakes, back-slaps and laughter were plentiful. It felt like home.
The sleepy town of Camden, AL is home to the Miller’s Ferry Lock and Dam on the Alabama River. This dam forms William Dannelly Lake. While the locals respect the late judge, they call the lake, “Millers Ferry”. The reservoir boasts over 500 miles of shoreline. This abundant shoreline makes this fishery so special. Acres of submerged timber and brush are home to catfish, spotted bass and big crappie.
Camden features many wonderful restaurants like the GainesRidge Dinner Club. A friendly staff in the plantation built in 1827 serves the excellent food. The nearby Southern Inn Motel caters to anglers with all, downstairs rooms.
Anglers from all over Alabama and four states fish the one-day big crappie tournament. Many of these anglers stay at one of the nearby campgrounds to fish a few extra days for the tagged crappie. Roland Cooper State Park, Chilatchee Creek Park, and Miller’s Ferry Campgrounds are all on the water.
Over 300 spectators gathered for the three o’clock weigh-in. Over $4000 in cash and prizes were awarded over the next hour. Jonathan Mitchell’s 1.99-pound crappie won the $1000 grand prize. Mitchell fished a tube-jig along steep banks to bag his prize. Junior angler, Nick Hudson took the top youth fish prize of $250. Two hundred anglers fished the one-day event from boats, docks and the shore. With over 200 hundred tagged fish, everyone has a chance to win a prize.
A wonderful event like this is not possible without the sponsors and the great people at the Wilcox County Area Chamber of Commerce. Two stand out. William Malone and Big Daddy, Jim Lawler worked tirelessly to make this a great family event.
The people, the fishery, and facilities are all here. Miller’s Ferry Lake is Alabama’s best, kept secret.
Note: Crappie USA will debut its first Miller’s Ferry Lake event on April 23rd. late sign-in is at the AU Resource Center, 5-7 PM, April 22.