Catfish anglers seem to thrive on challenge and adversity. Every time they hit the water they face the challenge of finding good bait, the challenge of finding the fish, and sometimes the challenges presented by the weather. Winter Blues on Wheeler will serve up yet another challenge to anglers that include flooding rains and a temperature drop a couple days before the tournament.
Rogersville, AL will be hosting the Alabama Catfish Trail’s, Winter Blues on Wheeler, tournament on January 2, 2016. Anglers will be coming from numerous states to compete in this tournament. Anglers will be competing for a guaranteed $5,000 in cash and prizes. The entry fee is $200.
Nearly 50 boats, with up to 3 anglers per boat, have already signed up for the tournament. More are expected to sign up at registration. Those competing anglers have been watching weather reports and social media to see what the affect of winter storm Goliath will have on their plans. Winter Blues tournament director Daniel Parsons has put a lot of work into the tournament and has a goal of offering a safe and productive event.
“We are keeping an eye on lake levels, and rainfall,” reported Parson. “Our plan to launch from the lake-end of Wheeler has kept us away from some of the flooding up in the river. We are expecting strong current and our competitors are gearing up to fish Wheeler like they do the Mississippi.”
Larry Muse will travel from Corinth, MS to fish the tournament. He is approaching the tournament with caution. “We have had an awful lot of rain,” said Muse. “It will depend a lot on whether the gates remain open. If they do leave them open it can be kind of dangerous and everyone should be cautious.”
As far as the fishing is concerned Muse thinks it will scatter the fish. “The catfish will go up with the rising water, but the way they’re letting it flow now, who knows if it’s going to be rising or falling. The heavy current flow will keep um’ nailed to the bottom so they’re progression should be slow.”
B’n’M Poles Prostaffer Mark Blauvelt will drive from Ohio to fish Winter Blues on Wheeler. Like everyone else, he has been watching Goliath. “I think the lake will be more muddy then high,” predicted Blauvelt. “It will have a good current. That only helps us northerners since we are used to fishing 1.5- 2-mph currents and having chocolate milk up here on the Ohio River. That heavy current means fishing the lake like it was a river.”
“Current is good,” continued Blauvelt. “We will however, have to be on the lookout for a lot of debris floating in the lake. Floating logs and brush can cause problems and force us to change tactics. When there is current, anchoring, dragging, bottom bouncing and drifting are all viable options. I expect a lot of nice fish to be brought to weigh in.”
Jason “Big Cat” Mathenia will pull his rig from Illinois to compete in Winter Blues. His biggest worry is the timing of the storm and the drop in temperatures in relation to tournament day. “Blue catfish are strange creatures,” suggested Mathenia. “Sometimes a temperature change does not change the fishing much at all but they are sensitive to conditions. I fish deep holes afternoon, evening and night. I fish shallow water during the warmest times of the day.”
“I would imagine the water dropping and the cold front will effect the fish,” continued Mathenia. “It usually takes at least 3 days of steady weather for fishing to pick up, whether it’s a cold front or heat wave.”
The fun begins with a Captain’s Meeting and registration on January 1st at First Baptist Church of Rogersville at 6:00 p.m. Registration includes a country style meal with a New Years theme. Expectations are that dinner will include black-eyed peas. Black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day are a southern tradition said to bring wealth and good luck for the rest of the year. A little bit of wealth to buy more catfish stuff and a little bit of luck to catch big fish never hurt a catfish angler.
In a social media post Parsons reminded everyone of the dinner with a reminder to participants to simple make a donation to Rogersville First Baptist Church. Families and friends are welcome to join the anglers at the dinner.
Winter Blues on Wheeler is a rod and reel only event. Fishing begins at 7:00 a.m. CST on January 2, 2016. Each team will be given a token with a team number and that token must be in the weigh-in bucket by 3:00 p.m. CST for the team to weigh in. The weigh-in takes place at First Creek Ramp. It is located on the road to Joe Wheeler Lodge.
For more information, including a complete set of rules, visit the website at alabamacatfishtrail.com and click on the Winter Blues tab at the top of the page. Other information can by found on the Alabama Catfish Trail Facebook Page. Parsons can be reached at (205) 209-2794.