Cody Andrews and Dean Matthews Take Top Spot at Icebowl
One catfish per team determines the winning team at the Icebowl. Aggregate state totals determine bragging rights in the Battle of the States.
by Ron Presley
The Icebowl catfish tournament is an annual January event at Kerr Lake (Buggs Island). The Icebowl Tournament was created as a challenge event between catfish anglers from North Carolina and Virginia. The state accumulating the most total pounds earns bragging rights for the next year and a winning team is crowned.
The most recent event was held on Saturday, January 27th. The tournament has grown over the years to include more states and more anglers. This year 237 catfish teams registered to fish the Icebowl. They all launched from and returned to the Occoneechee State Park boat ramp, Clarksville, VA. Tournament rules allow one fish to be weighed per boat to determine the winning team.
Some may recall that back in the 2017 Icebowl Dale Russel Lowe Jr. caught his 141-pound blue cat to win the event that year. The 2024 winner’s weight topped 80 pounds,
At the end of the day, it was the North Carolina team of Cody Andrews and Dean Matthews at the top of the leaderboard. They brought an 80.98-pound blue to the scales to become the 2024 Icebowl Champs and help North Carolina win the battle of the states!
I am still coming back to reality after such a great tournament,” said Andrews following the tournament. “I tried things a little differently this year. Unlike years past, I was only able to come down 3 days before the tournament but countless hours of graphing the water and not fishing led to success on Saturday.”
“My partner and I were able to fish how we like,” noted Andrews. “And that’s pulling planer boards. We found the fish mid-Wednesday, staging at the mouth of the creeks. We went back Friday and to my surprise, they moved to the mid portion of the creek.”
Andrews and Matthews were finding and marking fish in about 20 to 30 feet of water, and sometimes shallower. They reported that the water temperature of the creek rose 3 degrees and the bait pushed back into the creek. Naturally, the fish followed.
“On Saturday morning, we started fishing in the mouth of the creek,” recalled Andrews. “We were pulling planer boards to the back. We caught a few fish early on, and lost a big fish around 10:45 am.”
It was a slow bite but they didn’t give up. They continued to work a stretch of water with TKBoards from Team Keatts Fishing. Around 11:30 am the big bite they were looking for came.
“The 80.98-pound catfish was caught around 11:30 am,” reported Andrews. “We were pulling planer boards in an area that was about 250 yards long. It was a stretch that had several points and structures on it. In my opinion, what made the area so good was the area was a windblown bank that had the bait pushed up on it.”
“All in all it was a good day for me and Dean,” concluded Andrews. “Nothing unusual happened and the stars aligned. Everything fell into place at the right time. Thanks to Mad Katz Rods and Team Keatts Fishing. Our Mad Katz Rods performed perfectly and TK Boards, in my opinion, are the best boards out there for what I do. Finally, we would like to thank the good Lord, our family, friends, and everyone who supports us.”
The runner-up spot went to the Virginia team of Adam Cook (Nautical Pride Sport Fishing), Jay Berns, and Mike Kadman. They teamed up to bring a 72.93-pound blue cat to the scales to earn second place. The big Buggs Lake blue was Kadman’s new personal best.
Third place went to another Virginia team, Richard Sharp and Cody Johnson. They weighed 64.01 pounds blue to claim their spot.
Jonathan and Richie Keats (Team Keatts Fishing) finished in 4th place. They earned the spot by bringing a 60.97-pound blue cat to the scales. They culled the big fish from multiple fish in the 30 pounds and more range which included a 43-pounder that they caught at daylight.
North Carolina Earns Bragging Rights
Since its conception, the Icebowl has grown to include any angler who wants to fish but the battle between Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC) continues as an integral part of the tourney.
Of the 237 boats entered, 145 were from NC and 92 were from VA. NC teams had a combined weight of 1026.57 pounds to top the 882.86 pounds posted by VA teams. So, North Carolina claimed the Battle Plaque and took it back home along with a year’s worth of Bragging Rights until next year when they return to defend the title in 2025.
More results and weights can be viewed on the Icebowl Facebook page. The top 14 teams weighed more than 40 pounds.
“We had a great turnout with a new record number of boat entries in 2024,” said tournament director Michael Lawrence. “There were 237 boats. The fishing was pretty tough for half the field and productive for the others. There were 73 fish weighed in. We were very lucky that the rain held off for us to get through the weigh-in.”
“We are so thankful for all of the sponsors who have supported the event and the anglers that have made this into such a wonderful time,” concluded Lawrence.