Angler’s Last Fish of the Day Claims Big Fish Honors at The CatMasters Major League Tour on Lake Texoma
by Ron Presley
Shiloh Womack wins Big Fish award with 51.58-pound blue.
Inclement weather put an early damper on the inaugural CatMasters Major League Tour (MLT). Anglers were faced with rain and weather that moved the fish from their prefishing locations. Organizers were challenged with poor internet connections and dark, dreary lighting. All that was overcome by dedicated anglers who continued to fish hard and determined organizers who stuck with the job at hand and live-streamed updated content to viewers at home. A new concept was introduced to the catfishing community that is likely to have an important impact as time goes on.
The new format pitted individual anglers (one-man teams) against each other. As fish were caught they were weighed, released, and reported to each competitor.
Each angler was accompanied by a marshal to weigh, record, and assist with fish releases. About half the boats also had a cameraperson on board, otherwise, the marshal also ran the camera as time permitted.
Since the submitted weights were distributed regularly to the competitors they knew at any given time where they stood in the competition. The final results were determined at a prescheduled weigh-in at Cedar Buoy Marina.
During the day each angler could hold back one fish in the livewell to be brought to the scales at the end of the day. No one knew the size or weight of the “Mystery Fish” except the participants on the boat.
At the end of the day, it was Shiloh Womack’s Mystery Fish that claimed the Big Fish title at the CatMasters MLT. He is no stranger to fishing having enjoyed it ever since he was old enough to walk.
“I have been all over the United States fishing,” declared Womack. “I have put just about every species of fish you could think of in my hands and I’ve been on fishing trips that people only dream about. But there has never been a fishing trip that made me feel the way the Major League Tour made me feel when I left that boat ramp. The format challenged me to think and make real-time decisions about what to do to put fish in the boat.”
Other anglers confirmed that the solo format required thinking on your feet and dealing with a kind of stress that isn’t present in regular tournament fishing. Spud Barton referred to it as a “new kind of pressure” that builds as the solo angler has to perform all the various skills to catch and land fish without assistance while experiencing the pressure of knowing exactly where they stand on the leaderboard.
Following the tournament, Womack took time to review the decisions and techniques he used to catch his 51.58-pound Mystery Fish and claim the Big Fish honors.
“I started off at 6 am from the Buncombe Creek Resort Marina,” recalled Womack. “I check the spot I previously found fish on the day before in 40 to 43 feet of water.”
Womack patiently fished the area. Around 9:30 am he caught his first fish, It weighed 7.1 pounds. About an hour later he caught and recorded a 7.5-pound blue to give him a two-fish weight of 14.6 pounds and place him in 4th place overall.
“By 11 am with only a few hours in the tournament I decided to move,” explained Womack. “I made a 45-minute boat ride to the mouth of the Red River and found the mud line.”
The mud line was created from all the rain flowing down the river and pushing dirty water into the lake. It was a phenomenon that his brother had pointed out to him as a young boy.
“I was greeted with a ton of floating debris,” explained Womack. “There was also a school of alligator gar on my side scan.”
Womack navigated to a point that was a few hundred feet outside the mud line. His depth finder indicated 10 feet of water when he set the trolling motor down.
“I pointed the trolling motor north and started my pass,” Womack said. “I set the speed at .04 mph and begin running out Spread Em Planner Boards. My rods were set up with Santee Cooper Rigs and dragging giant gizzard shad heads.”
With only about a half hour of fishing left Womack stood over his starboard side rods and begin free-spooling reels until all 3 boards stopped.
“Within just a few seconds of my boards being on anchor my number 2 rod starting ripping out line,” recalled Womack. “The reel nearly backlashed. I was hooked up with a fish of a lifetime!”
The big fish went all the way over to the port side of the boat where it took Womack about 5 minutes or more to land his Mystery Fish. He was using 40-pound Berkley Line so he didn’t feel like he could horse it. He just let the fish run and tire out.
“I didn’t try to make the fish surface,” explained Womack. “I didn’t want him to show his head and have a chance to spit the hook. Finally, I reeled down just a few inches from the swivel and lifted. The fish came to the surface and I had the net ready.”
The landing went perfectly for Womack and everything came out right. There were several other decisions he could have made when he wanted to move, but he chose the right one.
“I’m blessed that everything came out the way it did,” confirmed Womack. “There’s a million different things that I could have done in this tournament but going to that mud line that my brother showed me back when I was a little boy paid off.”
Shiloh’s Sponsors: Waurika Lake Marina and Spread Em Planner Boards
Editor’s note: Following the tournament, Womack discovered that Bryan St Ama, who won the tournament with 99.84 pounds, caught his fish near Womack’s original spot by fishing the same structure and depth he was.
He responded by saying, “I am beyond impressed that Bryan got those fish to feed.”
Womack finished the day with a 3-fish total weight of 66.58 pounds, a 4th place finish, and Big Fish honors for the tournament. That big fish, being caught with only half an hour of fishing left, proves what successful pro anglers always say—NEVER GIVE UP!
Womack can be reached through his guide service on Facebook. Just click here on Womack’s Guide Service.