Hot Weather and a Slow Bite Characterized the Tournament on the Mississippi River
The weather was hot and the bite was tough at Caruthersville, MO on the Mighty Mississippi. Seventy-six teams from 16 states hit the water to compete in the season opener for The Catmasters 2020 season presented by SeaArk Boats. This event began the trail’s points race. For all those anglers entered in the points race it will conclude in Alabama in 2021.
The $20,000 points race will be determined based on the team with the highest scoring 3 tournaments of the 7 tournaments on the trail. It is important to note that to be eligible for the points race teams must register. Teams will consist of the captain and two co-anglers. All teammates including alternate must be declared at the beginning of the season or at the 1st participating event. No changes in team structure will be allowed. The seven tournaments include Caruthersville, Helena, Possum Kingdom, Grand Lake, Lake Texoma, Lake Tawakoni, and the three-day Classic on Wilson, Wheeler, and Guntersville in Alabama.
The opener at Caruthersville drew some of the top catfish anglers in the county to compete. SeaArk’s Jeremy Coe and Fish Hard Industries’ Eddie White emceed the event that was hosted by the city of Caruthersville and the Chamber of Commerce. The event was also strongly supported by industry leaders like SeaArk Boats, B’n’M Poles, and Big River Cats. At the end of the day, the top spot went to a team that often finds themselves in the winner’s circle in Mississippi River events.
Jason and Daryl Masingale and Matt Bingham teamed up once to claim the win at Caruthersville. The team from Arkansas brought a weight of 108.2 pounds to the scales. Their tournament weight included the second big fish at 61.78 pounds.
The team had prefished the two previous weekends and reported marking good structure and current. They tried to find wood but the river had changed so much it was hard. Saying that the bite was nearly nonexistent in prefishing they caught only 2 fish two weekends before the tournament and none the weekend before the tournament.
“The weather was hot and dry for the tournament,” reported Daryl. “But a pleasant breeze kept it bearable on the water. The river was on a slight rise which usually helps us because fish just seem to be a little more active and bite better.”
They reported that bait was difficult to find but they managed to catch enough skipjack to fish with. Nothing unusual happened as they approached the day with anticipation.
“We started out the morning bouncing,” continued Daryl. “The majority of our fish were caught by 9:00 am. After that, the bite practically stopped. We caught probably 5 fish between 7 and 9 and 3 fish between 9 and 3. The big fish (61 pounds) came at 8:00.”
After 9:00 the team resorted to anchoring and walking baits on revetment banks but with nothing to show for their efforts. All of the team’s fish were caught bouncing.
Keeping fish alive in the livewell was tough for them and everyone else. The 86-degree water temp was the culprit. Nevertheless, all of the anglers did a fantastic job taking care of the fish. They said they ran fresh water all day long and added oxygen to the livewell in the afternoon.
“We would like to thank our sponsors,” concluded Daryl. “They are SeaArk Boats, Monster Rod Holders, Tangling With Catfish Rods, and Team Catfish. We would also like to thank The Catmasters, the city of Caruthersville, and Big River Cats for their support and for putting on a great tournament.”
Second Place / Big Fish
The runner-up spot went to Cary Long, Adam Long, and Mike Mitchell. It was actually after a Facebook post by Mitchel that the team decided to compete. They ended up weighing in 105.8 pounds to take second place. Their bag included the Big Fish of the tournament at 64.57 pounds. The team also won the Driftmaster Bonus for running all Driftmaster Rod Holders on their boat.
“I was heading to Venice, LA Thursday morning,” explained Cary Long. “When I checked the weather conditions that morning, I decide not to go. Mike Mitchell had put that post on Facebook stating that he would like to fish the tournament. I talked to Adam Long about fishing it as well. So, we decided to fish it late Thursday night.”
“It was kinda’ funny how we even decided to fish,” added B’n’M prostaffer, Adam Long. “Mike had made the Facebook post wanting to fish. We ended up getting together and decided about 9 am Friday morning that we were gonna’ go.”
The team arrived around 5:30 Friday afternoon and decided to check out some old spots. They found some fish and set their plan for tournament day.
“We found some fish in a spot that we had fished before,” reported Adam. “We left them alone as a place to start on Saturday morning. The day started off real hot but we caught a 13-pound under in the first 10 minutes. After that, it was just here and there bites. We stayed and fished the same spot all day. We were bouncing with skipjack to catch the 2 big fish.”
“It was 92 degrees and the river was on the rise,” concluded Adam. “We ended up losing our 13-pound under so that left us with only our 2 big fish to weigh. We had a big-time!”
“Mike brought all the bait and it was fresh, excellent bait,” Cary said. “We fished some fast deep river and all enjoyed the day. It was really hot with a decent breeze but everyone in the boat kept a great attitude. I really appreciated Mike and Adam both fishing with me.”
Third Place and Top Finishing Women
It’s all in the family with Carson, Cye, and Austin Peirce. The B’n’M Poles team weighed in 96.83 pounds to claim the third-place spot and earn the title of Top Finishing Women for Cye.
Carson and Austin headed on over to prefish while Cye stayed back to work. They were successful in finding some big fish early but stayed off of them waiting for tournament day.
“Each day, they would drive by the spot to make sure the fish hadn’t moved,” reported Cye. “I joined them on Friday. We didn’t catch anything. Saturday, we headed to where they found the big fish. The morning bite came and went with no bites and we all started to get worried.”
The team had a discussion about the river being on a rise. That consideration convinced them to move to the sand even though the fish hadn’t been there during prefishing.
“Our first drift on the sand landed us a 42 pounder,” Cye said. “And within five minutes we got a second one that weighed 50. Now, all we needed was a good under so we put on smaller baits and moved again. However, we were really worried about the health of our fish so we made a decision to run them to the scales and weigh them in. We weighed in over 90 pounds with two fish.”
After weighing in the big fish, they hit the water again. Five minutes later they boated a small 6 pounder so they had an under to add to their weight.
“We drifted until the deadline trying for a better under,” concluded Cye. “All we managed to pull in was another 35-pounder which we had to throw back. It was hot, the bite was tough, but we are so thankful that we managed a respectable bag that has us in the lead for the Catmasters’ points race.”
The Top Finishing Youth Angler was 14-year-old Tye Needham with a total weight of 84.48 pounds. Tye is shown here with his team and several of the tournament staff.
Aaron Churchwell, representing Heroes Outdoor Therapy (HOT), presented the Top Finishing Veteran award to second-time winner Mike Davis. Shown also in the photo is Mike’s son, Will Davis and Charles LaPlant.
The CatMasters at Caruthersville, filled a serious void for many anglers and catfishing fans as the largest catfish tournament since the onset of the coronavirus. In addition to the spectators in attendance, many more fans were able to follow the event on a multi-camera live feed.
“I would like to thank all the volunteers and all our sponsors,” said Tournament Director Bryan St Ama. “Most of all, thanks to Wade Mansfield with Grizzly Jigs/Big River Cats. They went above and beyond to help make this tournament a success. Thanks also to the City of Caruthersville and the Chamber for all their help and support of The CatMasters at Caruthersville.”