Beginner Whisker Whackers

Bass Pro Shops Big Cat Quest hits James River for two-day tourney

catfish, blue catfish, channel catfish, flathead catfish, tournament, Big Cat Quest, Ken Freeman, James River

catfish, tournament, blue catfish, channel catfish, flathead catfish

Year ending tournament are always exciting for the anglers. This year’s Big Cat Quest is conducting its two-day Classic in VA on the James River. It may just offer an added challenge because of forecasted winds.

catfish, blue catfish, channel catfish, flathead catfish, tournament, Big Cat Quest, Ken Freeman, James River
Capt. John “Big John” Garland, a local James River catfish guide, shows what the weekend may have in store at the BCQ Classic on the James.

Osbourne Landing, on the James River, will come alive on Oct. 22 and 23, 2016 with anglers from several states competing for bragging rights, cash, and prizes. Talking with prefishing anglers indicates a number of different fishing methods could be used on the James River cats.

The championship event format includes multiple hourly paybacks. That payout system creates a new level of strategy to tournament fishing. Each hour, angers will have to decide whether to bring a fish to the scales and lose some fishing time or simply stay on the water and fish. It is a tough decision, because in some hours a five-pound fish, or less, will be in the money. Four cash prizes will be awarded each hour.

The weigh-ins begin with the 7:00 to 8:00 am hour each day. On Sat. Oct. 22, 2016 the last weigh-in will be the 2:00 to 3:00 pm hour. On Sunday the last payback weigh-in hour is 11:00 to noon. Anglers will be fishing for $20,000 in cash and prizes.

John “Big John” Garland, operates “Screaming” Reel Fishing Charters on the James River. “It is going to be windy tomorrow,” said Garland. “The wind is supposed to blow between 18 to 30 miles per hour, so it’s going to be choppy and windy in the morning. By afternoon it is supposed to die off some.”

“If I were fishing the tournament, I would be anchored down in a likely spot,” advised Garland. “Drifting will also work on these fish if you have a transition tide. You can set up and let the wind blow you around real slow over deep holes and drop offs for big catfish. The slow part may be difficult tomorrow.”

“I would be using Carolina rigs,” says Garland. “I would bait up with the only real bait there is for these Richmond area catfish, and that’s gizzard shad. Good fresh bait is the most important part of the strategy. I am talking fresh bait. I like to use good, fresh, bloody bait. Most of us guides like to go out and catch bait the same day we are fishing.”

One big difference in fishing the James River relates to tide. “Our fish are big, fat and lazy,” said Garland. “We have a tidal situation here and the first two hours of an incoming, and the last two hours of an outgoing tide can be deadly. The fish don’t have to exert a lot of energy to go out and get those baits.”

The public is invited and encourage to attend the weigh-in at Osborne Landing, 9530 Osborne Turnpike, Henrico, VA.

For more information, visit the website at, email Ken Freeman at or phone Ken at 731-234-1888.

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