NACT Night Tourney Honors Go To The Father/Daughter Team of Kevin and Peyton Childress
by Ron Presley
First-place team includes Big Fish honors and Top Youth
The North Alabama Catfish Trail (NACT) originally scheduled a Saturday tournament on August 26, 2023. Due to the excessive heat wave and the high heat indexes of late the tournament was changed to a night tourney. Hosted out of Safety Harbor on Wilson Lake it began on Friday at 8 pm and fishing continued for 12 hours. Lines out was posted as 8 a.m. and anglers had to be back to the scales at 8:30 a.m. While the tournament gave anglers the benefit of cooler fishing conditions it also presented the challenges that accompany night fishing.
First Place, Big Fish, and Top Youth Angler
The top spot went to the father/daughter team of Kevin and Peyton Childress. Twelve hours of Wilson Lake fishing yielded a bag-o-blues weighing 131.99 pounds to earn the top spot in the overnight competition. Their bag included Big Fish of the tournament at 62.98 pounds. Peyton Childress put the finishing touch on the night’s work by earning the Top Youth Angler award.
Team Childress came to the tournament following a long spell of being off the water. Boat problems and work have a way of doing that.
“To begin with I tore up the lower unit on my boat,” explained Kevin. “And then I had to go out of town and work for a month. I haven’t put a bait in the water for two months before the tournament.”
They also had to consider the change from the originally scheduled day tournament to the night tournament as he thought about the last concentration of fish that he had been on in about 25 feet of water.
“It was originally supposed to be a day tournament on Saturday,” Kevin stated. “But with the heat, Lisa decided to move the tournament to Friday night. I knew that could either be good or bad because if the fish were still where I thought they were, they hadn’t been touched. But they also could’ve moved in those two months.”
Kevin and Peyton arrived at their spot and as is sometimes the case, another boat was in the area and they had to adjust their plan.
“We moved a couple hundred yards down the river,” noted Kevin. “We had fresh skipjack that I had caught Friday morning. We started dragging and after about an hour we had three TFR rods all go down at the same time.”
And just like that they were in the ballgame. All three of the fish were in the 40- to 42-pound range. They continued to drag for a few hours more but it was slow. All they were catching was a few unders and none of them were good unders.
“We decided to reel everything in and start over where we wanted to start in the beginning,” recalled Kevin. “No one was there now and once we got started we caught a 52 and a 50 back to back.”
The team started to catch a lot of fish after midnight, but nothing that they could use to upgrade their 3-fish limit. By about 4:00 am that was about to change. Peyton had fallen asleep and Kevin was waiting for a bite.
“About 4 o’clock in the morning we decided to go back and start our drag over again,” explained Kevin. “When we did our first bite was a 62.98-pound blue cat. My daughter had fallen asleep, so as I was reeling it in, and had to yell to wake her up and get the net.”
With Peyton on the net, they battle the uncooperative blue. Peyton struggled to get the fish in the net so Kevin handed her the rod. She fought the fish and Kevin netted what became the Big Fish of the tournament. Now they could cull a smaller fish but they weren’t finished yet.
“A little after daylight, the far outside planer board started skiing across the water,” Kevin said. “It looked like a shark fin. Peyton was awake so I let her get this one. It was almost 60 pounds in the net. Then, about an hour before weigh-in, we finally got us a good under. Knowing that we were in good shape we just started cleaning up our mess and headed back to the ramp.”
“I really prefer daytime tournaments,” concluded Kevin. “But you don’t have much choice in this kind of heat. I want to thank Toughest Fricke’N Rods, Dirty South Dragging Weights, and Dry Creek Marine for their support.
The runner-up spot went to the father/son team of Mike Mitchell and Jackson Mitchell with Rick Sexton. They teamed up to bring 98.70 pounds to the scales.
Third Place and Top Lady Angler
The third spot went to the father/daughter team of Chris Parker and Caylee Parker. Team Parker weighed 97.27 to earn the third-place spot. Their weight also earned Caylee the Top Lady Angler honors as she vies for the North Alabama Catfish Trail Lady Points Race.
Fourth Place and Top Veteran
Ron Goucher and Ray Nix brought 92.96 pounds to the scales to claim the fourth-place hardware. Goucher also claimed the Top Veteran award.
Bill White and Cindy White took the fifth-place spot with 89.10 pounds.
Second Place Youth Angler
The 2nd Place Youth Angler award went to Chase Henderson. Chase was fishing with his dad Brian Meares.
The NACT is a family-friendly tournament trail aimed at fishing for old-fashioned fun. Tournament director Lisa Gail Haraway has assembled a great group of sponsors, volunteers, and anglers to accomplish her goals.
“It was a great turnout in the Alabama heat,” Haraway said. “We had anglers who traveled from far and wide to fish with us. Several posted personal best catches. Kevin and Peyton found the right spot for the win. We had several anglers who were new to tournament fishing and the trail. The anglers included 6 ladies, 2 youths, and 9 veterans. Everyone had a great time!”
Their next tournament will be September 1, 2023, on Pickwick Lake out of McFarland Park. Fishing will be from 8 pm on Friday to 6 am on Saturday.