Bridges and Moses collected a two-day total of 164.90 pounds of catfish.
“It was real tough; pre-fishing was tough,” Bridges said. “We couldn’t seem to locate the fish we needed. Then, we found some good fish, but nothing like what we caught during the tournament.
“Friday morning the tournament started; we went with the two best fish we had. We were drifting using skipjack control drifting on contour. The fish were there and we just stayed on them until they decided to bite. It’s just being persistent and patient. We knew they were there by using our electronics and we were just being patient.”
During the tournament, Bridges’ team caught two fish that weighted over 40 pounds. On Friday, they caught a 44-pound catfish, which turned out to be the biggest catch of the tournament. The Arab native said they didn’t catch big catfish just by chance.
“We had 82 pounds the first day,” Bridges said. “We had the big fish the first day of 44 pounds. Today, we caught 70-something pounds and we had a 43-pound catfish.
“You have to have cut bait, big hooks, big lines, big rods and big reels. You got to have that stuff and that is it.”
The Masingale and Masingale team finished second in the tournament with a weight of 102.85 pounds. Daryl Masingale said his team had a good first day, but they didn’t get any big catches the second day.
“We pre-fished a day and a half before time and we didn’t do very good,” Massingale said. “The afternoon before the tournament we marked a lot of good fish. With this real clear water the fish try to move and those fish stayed on that spot, so we thought this may be a good place to start. We stayed on that spot, the first day it panned out and the second day we didn’t do as good, but we are not going to gripe about second place.”
The Mosses/Tyler team finished third with a weight of 90.75 pounds. After struggling the first day, Russ Devore didn’t think his team would have a quality finish.
“It is always nice to get a check,” Devore said. “We really struggled all week; we have been down here since Monday fishing and it has been really tough on us. Yesterday, we only had one fish for six pounds; that’s how bad it was. We fished the same spot we fished yesterday all day and we came in with 85 pounds today. The fish were a little more aggressive and we stuck to what we knew.”
Devore, a Missouri native, said he appreciated the hospitality he received during his stay in the area.
“It is a great event,” Devore said. “We love it here; the people are so nice. Everywhere in town the people were so nice. We would go to the gas station and we would have 10 people around the boat, asking questions. If they have it again, I will be back again.”
Co-founder of the tournament Josh Blankenship said the tournament didn’t go as planned, but was a success considering this was their first time holding the event.
“It turned out exactly the way we wanted it, but it was our first time,” Blankenship said. “A tournament of this level has never been done like this before. The entire fee was $500. Your big catfish trails usually cost $200 to get in.
“We expected a lot more to come, but it all started with a dream. It has to be started somewhere, we started and we proved that it could be done. We hope that we can keep it going and be successful.”
Blakenship said they are planning to have the catfish tournament again next year.
“We had a ball,” Blankenship said. “We didn’t get the anglers that we wanted, but we got the crowd and that is what I wanted. I wanted the kids to come out here and have fun. I wanted the people to come see the big catfish that they worked so hard to catch.
“It is a growing sport and we are trying to make it grow every day. I run a trail out of Childersburg and I wanted to bring the guys that I fish with. These are some of the best anglers in the United States and we got the honor to bringing them to our hometown.”
Contact LaVonte Young at firstname.lastname@example.org.