“Daddy you won,” was heard over the live stream from Cabela’s King Kat Southern Championship as competition ended Saturday October 1, 2016. That sweet little voice turned out to be the daughter of Fonzi Malaikham letting her pleasure be known at her daddy’s victory.
Fonzi Malaikham from Murfreesboro, TN and Adam Dehner from Independence, KY had taken the “hot seat” in a new 2072 Alumacraft with a weight of 170.88 pounds. Then they waited to see if anyone would unseat them as the final teams weighed in.
Day one leaders Pounders and Gallop were the last team with a chance to unseat the new champs. Their 130.14 pounds fell short and Malaikham and Dehner had claimed the 2016 King Kat Northern Championship.
As winners of the Northern Championship they earned the fully equipped Alumacraft boat that had served as the hot seat while the anxious team awaited their fate. The Alumacraft 2072 side console boat is rigged with a 90HP Mercury 4-stroke engine, Minn Kota foot control trolling motor, Humminbird Helix series electronics, Driftmaster Rod Holder package and Cat River Anchor.
Malaikham and Dehner fished up river from Flipper’s Bait & Tackle in 25 feet of water. They used skipjack for bait. The team caught 12 fish for the weekend. Their biggest fish pulled the scales to 39.40 pounds.
“It feels amazing to win,” said Dehner. “We caught them all 3 ways, anchored, drifting and dragging. Anchored produced the best.”
Second place went to the team of Scott Cress from Covington, KY and Joe Bensman from Crescent Springs, K. The B’n’M team weighed in a total of 151.70 pounds to claim the second place spot. They fished up river toward Cordell Hull dam targeting ledges at the bottom in 50 feet of water. They used skipjack for bait to catch 30 fish for the event and earned a check for $3,000.00.
Last year’s winners at Gallatin were Rob Benningfield from Bowling Green, KY and Chris DeBow from Madeira, OH. After a slow start on day one they made a strong comeback and weighed in a two-day total of 145.20 to take the third place honors. They also won Big Kat honors for the tournament with a Big Kat that weighed an even 50 pounds.
Benningfield and DeBow fished toward the dam in the middle of the channel using the control drift method. Their fish came from 65 feet of water using skipjack for bait. They caught about 45 fish for the weekend and earned $1,500.00.
“Considering how bad we did day-one we can’t complain with getting 3rd and big fish,” commented Benninfield. “We found the fish in mid channel areas not really relating to anything in particular. It was a tough bite as expected. Congrats to the winners. Awesome weights. Great guys.”
B’n’M profstaffers Steve Collins of Williamsburg, Ohio and Kevin Tindle of Batavia, Ohio weighed in 132.10 pounds to earn fourth place honors and $1,000.00. The team fished down river dragging and drifting in 40 to 60 feet of water using skipjack for bait. They caught about 20 fish during the event.
Another B’n’M Prostaff team,Joey Pounders and Jay Gallop, led the competition after day-one and took the fifth place spot at the end of day-two to earn $800.00. They fished about 30 miles up river using live shad for bait to land 12 fish. Pounders and Gallop weighed in all flatheads both days of the tournament.
In a demonstration of determination the sixth place spot went to Frank White and Aaron Preece. After zeroing out on day-one they wieghed in 103.52 pounds, that included the second Big Kat at 41.02. “It was a two day tournament,” stated Preece. “We had zero yesterday but made a good comeback today.”
Their never-give-up attitude paid off as White and Preece claimed their top ten finish. “It shows how important it is not to give up,” stated Preece. “We had a lot of problems today, but we kept at it.”
The Gallatin event was the last date on the calendar for 2016 King Kat events. The tentative schedule for 2017 is available on their website. The first tournament for 2017 is a two-day event scheduled for February on Santee Cooper.