Big Blues and Young Bucks
New Madrid – October is a wonderful month for us outdoors-folk, and having already picked out my Halloween costume (I’ll be revising my role as an underpaid outdoorsman: same camo, new boots) I intend to take full advantage of all early fall has to offer! The deer herd is thriving, the waterfowl outlook is outstanding, and the fall feeding frenzy should be kicking off in waters near you any day now!
This past weekend the Bass Pro Shop’s Big Cat Quest National Championship was held in New Madrid, MO. The county seat of historic New Madrid County rolled out the red carpet for the professional anglers who traveled from all over the country for a chance at their sport’s biggest prize. While the locale’s namesake fault kept quiet, the wind was another story entirely, but the top catfishermen in the country don’t get discouraged easily!
I know how to catfish, and most of you all know how to catfish, but what some of these anglers do is pretty far outside the realm of hooking on an earthworm and casting out into a pond! Some of these boats were running over $6,000 in electronics, and using them to their fullest. The storms that moved through the area Thursday night dumped a lot of rain into the area north of New Madrid, putting the river on the rise, and the accompanying cold front should have made it extremely tough to catch fish.
So with a quickly rising river and a dramatic temperature change, anglers awoke knowing the bite would be tough, but add gusting winds on an already rough river, and you had the perfect storm! These are the conditions, however, that separate the competitors, and one team clearly had the edge.
The Massingale brothers from Paragould, AR took to the water and put on a clinic on day one, bringing in 179.95 pounds, and holding a wide margin against rest of the field. Day two brought more wind and while some competitors improved their weights from the first day, the Massingale’s 91.2 pounds gave them a total of 261.15 pounds, out of reaching distance for the field, making them the 2014 Bass Pro Shops Big Cat Quest National Champions!
The “Big Fish” prize went to Brooke Wilkins with a 52.2 pound blue catfish she caught on day one. Rounding out the top five were Nick Dimino and Adam Long taking 2nd place with 219.9 pounds, and David Shipman and Brooke Wilkins, who had a huge 2nd day with 167.75 pounds, taking 3rd with 203.8 pounds. 4th place went to the local team of Troutt, Whitehead, and Burton with 198.1 pounds, and Carl Morris and Jeremy Martin took 5th with 180.55 pounds. The teams weighed their biggest five fish each day. Great job guys!
This coming weekend will find me in the woods, using the most primitive of weapons to try and harvest a whitetail deer. My weapon of choice seems even louder than last year, smells a bit more than I’d like, and is not exactly what I’d call steady, but his mother and I are praying if given the opportunity, he’ll shoot straight! Kentucky’s youth season is this coming weekend, and Kenny Douglas, a crappie fishing friend of mine, has invited us over to a farm just “across the creek” outside of Wickliffe, KY.
For anyone who’s been following this column, you know that my son and I have had some very close calls, but with all the time and effort spent in the woods, the stars have not aligned for us, and we’ve yet to harvest his first deer. He is now 9 years old, and while I’ve always insisted that he has to handle the gun and take the shot completely by himself, I think he’s big enough now to make it happen. That being said, I know there are a ton of other factors that come into play, but I’m going to do my best to have him prepared and set up, so if a monster buck (or anything with hooved feet, ears, and at least partially covered in fur) walks within range, he’ll have the best opportunity!