MASON, W.Va. — This past weekend, fishing teams traveled up and down the Ohio River in search of that monster fish that would help them win first place at the 22nd Annual Bend Area C.A.R.E. Catfish Tournament.
Probably the most coveted of all the awards at the tournament is the ‘Big Cat’ award for the largest catfish. Winning first place in the ‘Big Cat’ category was 10-year old Joshua Lange, with a catfish weighing in at 53.38 pounds. Elvis Zerkle with the tournament’s event staff stated Lange was the youngest ‘Big Cat’ winner and the catfish was the second biggest catfish they’ve had in the history of the tournament. Winning second place ‘Big Cat’ were John Gibson and Terry Legg with a catfish weighing in at 34.74 pounds.
Also winning the big $1200 first place prize for total weight was the team of Todd Anderson and Kelly Harrah, with a total weight of 113.36 pounds. Zerkle added this was also the most weight they’ve ever had in the history of the tournament. The other winners in the total weight category are as follows:
In second place with 84.78 pounds were Larry, Stephanie, and Joshua Lange. In third place with 69.64 pounds were John Gibson and Terry Legg. In fourth place with 55.58 pounds were Tom Miller and Ken Craft. In fifth place with 53.56 pounds were Charles Myers and Justin Vaught. In sixth place with 52.22 pounds were Richard King and P.D. Epling. In seventh place with 47.48 pounds were Stan and Vicki Cook. In eighth place with 46.24 pounds were Willie Smith and Drew Benner.
Other winners in various categories are as follows:
Winning the Father-Son/Daughter award were Larry and Joshua Lange. Winning in the ‘Anything Goes’ categories were Tom Long and Dave McCoy with a White Drum/White Perch weighing in at 4.04 pounds; Bobby Roush and Tristen Roush with a White Bass/Hybrid/Striper, weighing in at 1.24 pounds; Alva Dunn and Jessie Waugh with a Bowfin.
Also winning a special award were Richard King and P.D. Epling. This special award was presented by VSW Local 5171 organization, to the team with the weight closest to 51.71 pounds. This team had a weight of 52.22 pounds.
A total of 95 teams were registered for the tournament, which was reported as an improvement from last year’s turnout of 88 teams. Among the 95 teams, there were a total of 18 father-son/daughter teams. Zerkle reported there are normally around 100 teams in the tournament, but participation had slightly decreased due to the recent economic struggles. But Zerkle stated participation is increasing again, stating there were approximately 300 other spectators present as well.
“I feel it’s one of the best years as far as spectators go,” Zerkle said about the tournament.
Zerkle also stated this year’s tournament also had most sponsors compared to previous years. Door prizes included several fishing rods and reels, coolers, hunting and fishing equipment, and several lawn chairs and gift cards.
Also recognized at the tournament was Charles Zerkle. Charles was recognized as one of the founding members of the tournament and was credited as having the original idea for the tournament. He has also participated in every tournament, consecutively for 22 years.
As previously reported, the Bend Area C.A.R.E. organization works to help families and individuals in need in Mason County, and the proceeds from this tournament will benefit the Kids for Christmas Program. This fishing tournament normally raises around 70-80 percent of the total money used in the Kid for Christmas Program, and the Bend Area C.A.R.E. organization was able to spend over $14,000 last year to help out over 20 families, which included around 100 children.