Monsters on the Ohio launched a record 192 boats on the Ohio River at Owensboro, KY. Catfish teams traveled from across the U.S. to compete in the October 8, 2016 event.
Prefishing conditions were warm and sunny for the competing anglers, but all that changed as tournament day approached. A cold front carrying nasty winds made boat control challenging and caused prefishing strategies to change. Fishing began at 6:30 a.m. and ended at 3:00 p.m.
When all the teams had completed weigh-in at English Park in Owensboro, KY, Jeremy Ransom and Travis Robertson had weighed in 104.4 pounds to claim the 2016 Monsters on the Ohio crown. “Our success came because we did not harass the fish we found before the tournament,” said Ransom. “I had been on those fish for about 10 days, but only dropped baits on them two times before the tourney.”
“There was no secret to what we achieved,” added Robertson. “We had great input from other anglers and we put it all to good use. We developed our plan from our scouting the week before. When we came back down this week we did not over-fish before tournament day. We took it easy on them, caught a few, and then left them alone. We caught our fish in 35 to 40 feet of water. Some were dead sticking and others were on the Dragon Tail.”
Ransom and Robertson are not sponsored but are open to it. “We are two guys that love to catfish and decided to go fish a tournament,” said Ransom. “We wanted to find out how good we really were.”
“Me and my partner have no sponsors,” said Robertson. “We love catfishing I would love nothing more than making a part time career out of it.”
Ransom and Robertson agreed on a couple tips for aspiring tournament catfish anglers. “Don’t try to reinvent the wheel,” advise Ransom. “Most importantly, don’t go and fish your fish to death the two days prior to the tournament.”
“Don’t over fish your spot prior to tournament day,” underscored Robertson. “Take it easy on them and let them be. Don’t fish just to see what’s down there. If there are small fish showing on the sonar there are usually big fish too. Put the hammer down on tournament day, but not before.”
Ransom also thanked tournament organizers and encourage want-a-be anglers. “I would also like to thank Aaron Wheatley, his staff, and the whole town of Owensboro. It was a very enjoyable experience and a job well done. I met some great people while in town.”
“I will be back to Monsters on the Ohio,” concluded Ransom. “I would like to say to all catfish anglers – don’t be intimidated to come fish one of these big tourneys. You don’t have to have fancy boats and shirts to win. Anyone can be beaten on any given day. No one wins every day.”
Second place went to Rodger Gerloff and Travis Hunter. The Missouri team posted a weight of 102.4 pounds to be the only other team to break the 100-pound mark in a tough day of fishing.
“It was a very cool start to the morning,” said Gerloff. “We scouted fish fairly early in the week and knew they were there. We just kept sticking bait in front of them. We had fresh bait and that helped.”
Gerolff, from Jefferson City, MO and Hunter from Centralia, MO. were anchoring and walking baits down current. “We were anchoring down and walking back skipjack in 20- to 35-foot water,” explained Gerloff. “Our fish came from structure. We located it on the graph and set up above the structure. When we caught a fish we were always around structure.”
Gerloff and Hunter had a heartbreaking experience too. “While we had our big fish in the livewell it coughed up some kind of carp,” sighed Gerloff. “It weighed in the neighborhood of 4 pounds. I was sick when I saw it in the livewell and had to dig it out to throw it over the side.”
Aaron Wheatley does a great job,” concluded Rippin Lips prostaffer Gerloff. “The tournament went smooth and very professional. Our Crestliner was the last boat in the water, but we drove up and launched without a hitch. We had a good time and will definitely be back.”
Third place in the contest went to Cory Kopis, Mike Kopis and Chuck Felkner. The Ohio Hills Catfishing Club members weighed in 82.1 pounds and earned a check for $3,000.
The teams original plan for tournament day did not pan out. “We started the morning off drifting,” reported Cory. “Conditions were not right with the cold front and the wind. Boat control was very difficult for drifting.”
Plan B targeted a ledge that stretched for about 200 yards in 20- to 40-foot water. “We had found a ledge earlier, but had not prefished it,” said Cory. “We would anchor up on a spot and fish it for a while and then move down. We did this about four times to catch our fish. We were using Carolina rigs and three-way rigs and caught an equal number of fish on each rig.”
“Given the weather I just thought those fish should be in the structure,” continued Cory. We made the right choice and it paid off. We had to wait them out, but they were there. We tried everything. We changed depths, changed positions, and changed baits. It was one of those days were you just prayed you could get it in front of his face.”
“I was shocked that we caught so many on skipjack,” offered Cory. “We were using shad and skipjack and caught about as many on one as the other. I am not a skipjack person. My team never really used it and I was surprised when they bit it like they did. I had only caught one blue cat on it before.”
“The other interesting thing was the shad,” reported Cory. “Blue cats usually eat cut shad. That was not the case. They did not want the shad unless it was alive.”
“We didn’t think our weight would get us that high in the rankings,” said Cory. “Scouting and not prefishing paid off. I don’t believe in prefishing before a tournament. We marked fish and marked structure before the tournament, then we went on tournament day and they were there.”
Russ Devore and Ben Goebel weighed in 77.9 pounds to earn the fourth place honors. The B’n’M team earned $2,000 for their efforts. “We were drift fishing, slightly suspended in the small pocket of fish that we had found earlier in the week. We had another spot where we caught fish in practice, but we checked it out on Friday and the fish had moved out.”
With their backup fish gone, Devore and Goebel decided to tough it out. “We stayed on that first spot and just kept pounding,” offered Devore. “We wanted to get five fish out of it.”
“Monsters on the Ohio is one of my favorite tournament of the year to fish,” acclaimed Devore. “Aaron Wheatley and the whole city of Owensboro deserves a big pat on the back. Everybody is so friendly they bend over backwards to help you. I really enjoy my time there, every year, and look forward to next year.”
The top five was rounded out by Jim Starcevich and Chris Sloan. “The secret to our success was fishing hard on a concentrated area,” reported Starcevich. “We used tips that we had learned fishing blues with Guide Ryan Casey from Show Me Catfishing. We were also lucky enough to run into Steve Douglas and Larry Muse down here in Owensboro. We picked their brain for some tips on how to fish these pools.”
“Brian Burnett, from Iron Skillet Outdoors, was helpful in pointing out some places to prefish and scout. He is a seasoned angler and was very helpful to a couple a new guys from Illinois.”
The Merco Outdoors and Team Mercer County team were suspend-drift fishing and dragging baits to catch their weight of 76.9 pounds. “We set our plan and stuck with it all day long,” said Starcevich. “You always have to fish hard and stay open minded to other strategies.”
“This was our first trip to Monsters and we had a very good time,” concluded Starcevich. “The tournament was awesome and the people of Owensboro were all great and very welcoming. We can’t wait to come back. We will definitely be back for Monsters on the Ohio 2017.”
Big fish of the tournament went to Jody and Tricia “Trish” Beavin. The B’n’M Poles team posted a 53.4-pound monster blue to earn big fish braggin’ rights. “We made a 40 minute run up river,” said Jody. “The fish were there, but did not bite like in practice. The wind was furious, probably the worse I have ever tried to drift in.”
“Around 10 a.m. Tricia’s rod doubled over,” said Jody. “She reeled down and the fish started peeling drag. The B’n’M rod was pinned in the rod holder. We got the rod out and worked the big fish to the surface. Trish netted him like a champ, we got him in the livewell and started our drift over.” (For a full account of Jody and Trish’s day watch for a Whisker Whackers post on Monday.) They also finished ninth overall in the tournament.
You know the old saying, “No rest for the wicked.” I am sure with 2016 Monsters on the Ohio behind him Aaron Wheatley is already having thoughts of next year. Congrats to the whole Monsters on the Ohio team and the city of Owensboro on another successful catfish tournament.