GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — Catfish anglers from several states traveled to the Ohio & Kanawha Rivers at Gallipolis, Ohio last weekend for a King Kat Tournament Trail event presented by Bass Pro Shops Cabela’s.
The Gallia County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau hosted the anglers that gathered to test their catfishing skills against other anglers and Mother Nature.
According to a news release from organizers, anglers were vying for cash and prizes, an opportunity to qualify for regional competition, and the opportunity to qualify for this year’s King Kat Classic Championship on the Red River at Natchitoches, La., Nov. 5-6. The Classic features a guaranteed payout of $125,000 in cash and prizes.
The Ohio and Kanawha Rivers are known for some good flathead fishing and the flathead bite was on for most of the anglers. Although the big fish of the tournament was a big ole blue cat, there were some nice flatties following close behind. Many anglers prefer catching flatheads and it is one of the attractions the area has for them.
Teaming up to take the top spot were Chris Rhodes and Chris Hatfield. They brought a total weight of 128.80 pounds to the scales to claim the win. Their weight included the Second Big Kat at 44.92 pounds.
Rhodes and Hatfield fished the Upper Kanawha River in 13-18 feet of water. They spent the whole day drifting.
“The morning bite was pretty slow,” reported Rhodes. “At noon we only had 1 fish at around 12 pounds. We discussed moving to a new area, but decided to stay since I kept marking good fish on the sonar that just wouldn’t bite.”
The current picked up for the team slightly after the noon hour. The change seemed to be the trigger they needed to get the fish eating. The best bait was cut shad, but they also caught a few on cut mooneye. They boated eight fish for the day.
“I would like to point out that the WVDNR has done a good job protecting our catfish,” concluded Rhodes. “They have re-establishing the blue catfish to this part of their native range. I heard several people say that our weight was the highest weighed at a Gallipolis King Kat event yet (not certain if that’s true). We definitely could not have done so without the work the DNR has put in.”
Second Place and Big Fish
The runner-up spot went to Craig Shirey and James Wesney. They teamed up to bring 103.90 to the scales to take second place. Their bag included the Big Kat of the tournament at 46.60 pounds.
As is often the case, the big fish came early in the morning. That’s why catfish anglers like to be on their favorite hole when fishing time starts.
“Yeah, it was first thing in the morning,” recalled Shirey. “I dropped a medium-sized piece of shad in the hole we were anchored on. After a few minutes, I caught a 10-pound flathead. I knew there was probably a good size below us so I put a big piece of bait on and sent it down.”
Twenty minutes later they watched the rod slowly started bending downward in a bite characteristic of a big fish.
“I started reeling and it didn’t move,” Shirey said. “My partner thought I was snagged until I got the fish off the bottom. It gave a heck of a fight but we finally got it in the net. We felt pretty good about big fish after that.”
Neil Craig and Michael Jordan brought in the third-place weight. They had 83.88 pounds. They had a 25.55-pound flathead as the biggest fish in their bag.
The team used a combination of mooneye, skipjack, and shad to tempt the cats. They fished upriver on the rope to catch 6 fish on the day.
Christopher Grose and Tyler Lee put a combination of blues and flatheads together for a tournament weight of 83.50 pounds to finish in the money. Their big fish went 41.13 pounds and was the third biggest fish of the tournament.
Epilogue Tournament director, Willie Pranker thanked the Gallia County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau for hosting the event and all the anglers for participating.
The 2021 Championship
This year’s King Kat Classic Championship will be held on the Red River at Natchitoches, LA, November 5-6, 2021. The Classic features a guaranteed payout of $125,000 in cash and prizes. The points race is set to pay $30,000 to the top 20 places based on the competitor’s top-five finishes.
Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s King Kat Tournament Trail sponsors include Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s, Mercury Marine, Mustad Hooks, Gamma Line, Driftmaster Rod Holders, Ego Nets, EFX Graphics, Catfish Now, Fin n’ Frames, Cat River Anchors, Smooth Move Boat Seats, Power-Pole, and Lowe Boats.
For more information on the championship and other King Kat activities visit their website at www.kingkatusa.com. Anglers can also follow the trail on the King Kat Facebook Page.