GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — Catfish anglers from four states traveled to the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers at Gallipolis, Ohio for a King Kat Tournament Trail event presented by Bass Pro Shops Cabela’s.
Thirty-five teams gathered at Gallipolis to test their catfishing skills against other anglers and Mother Nature.
Anglers fishing the June 20 event were vying for $ 8,525 in cash and prizes, and an opportunity to qualify for the $120,000 Classic Championship to be held Oct. 30 – 31, on Milford Lake in Milford, Kansas.
According to a press release from tournament organizers, the day started off with a lot of fog in the area before daytime temperatures rose into the lower 90’s with a light breeze at times. Some game plans change for anglers fishing the Ohio River as they encountered floating debris and heavy current. Some anglers found fish on moored barges. All in all, the bite was reported as tough.
Results for the Top Catfish Teams:
First Place — In their first time to win a tournament, Chris Rhodes from Scott Depot, West Virginia and Chris Hatfield from Hurricane, West Virginia, took the top spot at Gallipolis. They teamed up to bring 88.56 pounds to the scale and earn a check for $3,600.
“We fished the Ohio River in the Racine, Ohio area all day,” Rhodes stated. “The best depth seemed to be 30 to 40 feet. Cut mooneye was the bait of choice, although we did catch a few on cut shad, we caught our biggest fish on mooneye. We could not get the fish to eat skipjack at all.”
Rhodes said the bite was much better in the morning. They had their entire final bag in the livewell by 9 a.m. before the sun got up very high. All in all, they caught 10 blues and two flatheads for the day.
“We drifted and anchored, but caught every single fish while drifting,” concluded Rhodes. “The bite slowed as it got hot, but I’m not sure if that was the true cause of the slowdown. The wind stayed pretty calm, which definitely makes proper boat control while drifting a bit less work.”
Second Place — The runner-up spot at Gallipolis went to Tracy and Missi Pauley from Yawkey, West Virginia. The Mountain State anglers brought a weight of 86.32 pounds to the scale to claim their second-place finish and earn a check for $1,800. Their bag included Big Kat of the tournament at 46.72 pounds to add $700 to their payday.
They didn’t travel far on the water to find their fish. In fact, they were fishing within eyesight of the boat dock. They were in about 40 to 45 feet of water using skipjack only.
Missi caught the Big Kat and it was her biggest fish ever. Team Pauley only caught four fish on the day, but given Missy’s personal best the weight was good enough for second place.
“We were fishing on the bottom with skipjack,” Missi said. “The water temp was 68 degrees. We used both fresh and frozen bait. I got the big one on month old frozen skipjack in 43 feet of water. We were almost in the middle of the river.”
Third Place — Third place went to Willie Smith and Nick Anderson from Frankfort, Ohio. They teamed up to bring 70.06 pounds to the scales and earn a check for $1,300.
Smith and Anderson fished up by the Racine Dam. They were fishing in about 18 to 20 feet of water where they caught 16 fish. They reported catching all their fish on a morning bite that shut off at noon.
They pinned themselves down on the buoys and began fishing with skipjack. They later switched to shad and that’s what they were using when they caught their weigh-in fish.
Fourth Place — Justin Fraley from Portland, Ohio, and Brian Reynolds from Vincent, Ohio had the fourth-best weight at 69.88 pounds. It earned them a check for $700.
Fraley and Reynolds fished Racine and also reported an early bite. They fished several depths of water from six to 20 feet. They fished various spots including anchored fishing barges with both live and cut shed. They caught five fish all day, with only one coming in the afternoon.
Fifth Place — The top five was rounded out by Robin Kessler from Wellsville, Ohio and Denver Zinn from Madison, Ohio. They teamed up to weigh in 45.22 pounds and earn a check for $425.
Kessler and Zinn went barge hoppin’ to find fish. They only had 3 solid takedowns all day but they caught them all—three nice flatheads.
It was a tough bite until they switched up baits. They reported catching 2 of their 3 fish within four minutes of each other. Fished water from 15 to 25 feet deep and never traveled more than a couple miles to do it.
The Remaining Top Ten were as follows:
6th Place – Neil Craig and Michael Jordan – 44.58
7th Place – Michael Snyder and Denny Clark – 44.44
8th Place – Chuck Snyder and Mitchell Ling – 44.00
9th Place – Craig Shirey and Jimmy Wesney – 38.54
10 Place – Chris Brinker and David Smith – 35.76
Tournament director, Bobby Brown described the weigh-in as a beautiful area right on the Ohio River. He sent out a special thanks to the City of Gallipolis and the tourism folks. They provided volunteers that made the tournament weigh-in go smoothly.
The 2020 Championship
This year’s Cabela’s King Kat Classic Championship will be held Oct. 30 – 31, on Milford Lake in Milford, Kansas. The Classic features a guaranteed payout of $120,000 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, Excel Boats, Mercury Marine, Mustad Hooks, Humminbird, Minn Kota, B’n’M Poles, Gamma Line, Driftmaster Rod Holders, Ego Nets, EFX Graphics, Catfish Now, Fin n’ Frames, WavePro, Kiobassa Sausage, and Crown Trophy Wave Pro.
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.
Information provided by King Kat Tourament organizers via the Gallia County Convention and Visitors Bureau (GCCVB). The GCCVB helps promote the event, locally.