Catfish fans were not disappointed at the weigh-in for the Bass Pro Shops Big Cat Quest (BCQ) event on Saturday October 3, 2015. The popular event, held in New Madrid, Mo, saw plenty of big catfish come to the scales. The catfish tournament was held in conjunction with the New Madrid Fall Festival.
Anglers were allowed to fish the Mississippi River from 6:00 am until 3:00 pm, with the final call at weigh-in for 4:00 in the afternoon. The boundaries for fishing included the Mississippi River and its tributaries reachable by boat from two required launch sites.
When all was said and done the B’n’M Poles team of George Young from Arkansas and Capt. Ben Goebel from Indiana claimed the first place spot. The team won the New Madrid BCQ with 168.20 pounds that included the Big Fish of the tournament of 73.65 pounds.
“We were walking baits on sandbars in 50 feet of water using skipjack,” commented Goebel following the tournament. “We targeted fish on ledges coming off shallow water into deep water.”
“There were no secrets today,” continued Goebel. “It was all hard work and determination. We made the right moves at the right time.”
Young and Goebel had chosen three places to fish based on the rising river. “We hit them hard and fast,” explained Young. “The fish were on the move because of the rising river so they weren’t on the spots long. We would see them and then they would be gone. We kept moving trying to get to them before they left our chosen spots.
The Arkansas/Indiana duo finished more than 30 pounds ahead of the second place team.
David Shipman and Brooke Wilkins took the second place prize. The Corinth, MS team won the World Championship of Catfishing (WCC) earlier in the year at Pickwick Landing State Park in TN.
Windy and rainy conditions made it pretty tough on the competitors and that hard work and determination mentioned by Goebel was a necessity to finish in the money. “We just fished really hard,” said Shipman. “We only caught 7 fish but we got two good ones.”
The Mississippi team weighed in 134.95 pounds to take the second place spot. A fellow from a radio station had told his wife that he would kiss a big catfish at the event. He used Wilkins 66.75 pound monster to fulfill the promise. (See Photo)
BCQ rules allow a third angler when the third is is a youth or senior. That was the case for the third place team. Weighing in a total of 124. 35 pounds the team of David Coughlin, Gary Haynes and Clint Gant took the third place spot.
“Fishing was tough because high wind made drift fishing a challenge,” commented Gary Haynes. “Fishing has been poor all summer, I was surprised the weight’s were as good as they were.” The team caught 6 fish total, one more than they are allowed to weigh in. Their big fish was about 60 pounds.
Forth Place at New Madrid went to Roy Harkness and Don Sweatt. They weighed in their allowed total of 5 fish at 102 pounds even.
The fifth place team was also a three-man team. Russ Devore, Tony Hunt and Chris Morrow finished out the top five with a weight of 88.35 pounds.
“It was a pretty tough day for us,” stated Devore. “We only got to pre-fish one day. Since we didn’t find a whole lot of fish we went to where I normally can catch fish. We saw some pinned to the structure and we just kept pounding them all day. We drifted them over and over, fighting the wind all the time. We caught around 15 fish for the day, but never could get one of the big fish that we were seeing. All in all we were very happy with our finish.”
Three times Angler of the Year winner, Larry Muse, weighed in 77 pounds and finished in sixth place. He weighed in only 4 fish. Muse won the AOY title for the past three years in a row.
“It was rough with a steady wind blowing down stream,” commented Muse. “The water rose 4 feet over night. It scattered the fish. Friday I marked some of the biggest fish I’ve ever seen on my Onix and three hours later they were gone.”
The wind and current was a constant battle for anglers. “I drained two 36 volt banks of batteries and was out of power at 2:00 with an hour of fishing time left. I’ve been AOY and haven’t thrown an anchor for three years, but with these conditions the anchor fishermen got me on this one.”
The next BCQ is the National Championship. The Classic will be held October 23, 24, and 25 in Memphis, Tennessee
For more information on the Bass Pro Shops Big Cat Quest visit their website at http://www.bigcatquest.com or their Facebook page. To contact tournament director Ken Freeman directly, phone 731-234-1888.
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