Bass Pro Shops’ Big Cat Quest (BCQ) chose Clarksville, TN and the Cumberland River for a one day Team Tournament event on April 16, 2016. Anglers were allowed to fish the Cumberland River and its tributaries reachable by boat from required launch sites. Trailering was allowed, but launch had to take place from the Bumpus Mills Boat Ramp to the Cheatham Dam ramps and all ramps in between. Use of any other ramp would result in disqualification.
Registration resulted in anglers from six states primed and ready for the Cumberland River event. Legal fishing time was from 6:00 am until 3:00 p.m. Anglers were required to be in line or at the floating dock at Riverside Park no later than 4:00 pm for the weigh-in.
The scales opened at 11:00 a.m. at Riverside Park in downtown Clarksville, TN. The one-day tournament crowned a winner based on the overall best weight of five fish. When the scales closed at 4:00 p.m. Tony Fuller and Neville Watkins from Clarksville, TN had weighed in a total weight of 67.65 pounds. The local team was the first boat to weigh, but their all flathead weight held up through the weigh-in to claim the Cumberland River honors.
Fuller and Watkins set a strategy and stuck with it. “We travelled a long way to fish,” reported Fuller. “I know the flathead are more numerous above the dam and further south, so that was on strategy. Most folks liked the northern area, but the were a lot of bass tournaments there. That means killer boat traffic. We downsized our baits and hung in there, being patient with a slow bite.”
Fuller noted that high pressure; 10 mph ESE winds and a sunny 75-degree day slowed the bite. “I prefer it to be colder and cloudy. A minimal current also contributed to the slow bite.”
The Clarksville team anchored up and used 40-pound Berkley Big Game mono mainline, 50-pound mono leader, 8/0 Gamakatsu Octopuses Circle Hooks and 3 ounce no roll sinkers to craft a Carolina rig. “We fished cut bait in about 30 to 35 feet of water. Determination and a whole lot of luck helped us win.”
John Smith and Ellery Wiggins claimed the second place honors. Team Smith/Wiggins brought 5 fish to the scales that weighed 59.60 pounds.
Mitchell Frazer and Ryan Walsh, another Clarksville team weighed 56.10 pounds to finish in third place.
The first out of town winner was Paul Blackwell from Anderson, SC, but he was fishing with another Clarksville local, Wesley Mann. Team Blackwell/Mann weighed in 38.15 pounds to take the fourth place spot. This was Blackwell’s second top 5 finish in as many weeks on the BCQ.
“We started the day out anchored before later changing tactics to suspended drifting,” reported Blackwell. “We only caught 9 fish total with the biggest weighing 13 pounds. It was a slow and tough day, we couldn’t find the big bite.”
Fifth place went to Kevin Breedlove and Eddie Huey with 36.10 pounds.
Big Fish honors went to Jeff Dodd from Trenton, TN. Jeff was fishing with future family member Cedric Poynor when he caught a 30-pound blue catfish early in the day. Winning Big Fish was kind of a consolation prize after motor trouble shortened their day.
“We pre fished Friday and the bite was decent,” reported Dodd. “We thought tournament day would be OK too, but we were wrong, the bite was horrible. We had an east wind and they cut the current in half. It shut the bite down. We were fishing in 20 to 30 feet of water with skipjack. Without enough current to bump we vertical drifted most of the day targeting structure.”
“We caught the Big Fish around 7 o’clock,” continued Dodd. “We had one more bite the rest of the day, a 2-pound channel cat. Our day was cut short right after noon when we had motor trouble and it took us the rest of the day to get back.”
The next regular season BCQ tournament will be April 30 – May 1 in Lake Fork, TX. For more information visit the Big Cat Quest website or their Facebook page.
For more information on the Clarksville, TN area visit the website at visitclarksvilletn.com.