Big Fish goes to Stoller and Bruna.
Catfish anglers from nine states traveled to Lake Milford at Milford, KS for a King Kat Tournament Trail event presented by Bass Pro Shops Cabela’s. Thirty-eight teams gathered to test their catfishing skills against other anglers and Mother Nature.
Anglers fishing the October 10, 2020 event were vying for $9,310 in cash and prizes, and an opportunity to qualify for the $120,000 Classic Championship.
For some anglers, the event was a warmup for the Classic because it will be held in just a couple of weeks right back on Milford Lake in Milford, KS. It gave anglers a chance to develop their strategies for when they return.
Anglers were greeted with nice weather for the Milford event. Air temperatures ranged from 55 in the morning to the high 80’s by weigh-in time. There were some winds in the morning but turned calm by afternoon.
Results for the Top Catfish Teams
The top spot at Lake Milford went to Kaleb Palmer from Meriden, KS, and Caleb Burgett from Topeka, KS. They teamed up to bring 101.86 pounds to the scales and earn a check for $3,800.
Palmer and Burgett fished the north end of Milford Lake. They reported nice calm weather on tournament day. They targeted water in the 15 to 20 feet range pulling Parks Planer Boards and baited with cut shad. The team caught 8-10 fish on the day.
“The weather really shaped up nice for Saturday,” reported Burgett. “Two days of strong south winds had made our prefishing rough as we moved from one spot to another.”
Palmer and Burgett spent Thursday and Friday fishing areas they don’t normally fish but expected to be good this time of year. They caught a lot of under slot and between slot fish those two days but no over slot fish.
“On Saturday we fished areas where we normally do pretty good,” recalled Burgett. “We got on the water about 6:30 that morning and found an area where it looked good. We started fishing at 7 am. Around 7:30 we caught our first over. It weighed about 40 pounds.”
“Within the next hour or so we caught another over that weighed about 43 pounds,” continued Burgett. It was a big relief to have our two legal big fish that early in the day.”
The team continued to fish that area for a couple more hours before deciding to move where they might catch three nice under fish. They changed to smaller baits in the new area and within an hour had three unders. After securing their unders they went back to the same area where they caught the big ones earlier.
“We were hoping to upgrade one or both of our big fish,” Burgett said. “Around 1:30 my partner’s rod slammed down. His reel ripped drag for a solid 15 seconds and we knew it would be a good one if he could get it in the boat.”
The reel on that rod was old and had reeling issues when there was pressure applied by a tight line. It created an intense battle getting the big fish to the boat. After a few minutes, the fish surfaced and they knew it was an upgrade to one of their over fish.
“We were pretty excited,” said Burgett. “We culled the one around 40 pounds for this fish that weighed 48 pounds on our scales. That fish ended up puking up a seagull in the live well so it lost a little weight.”
“Without those Parks Planer Boards doing their job I don’t believe we would have been as successful” offered Burgett. “With six planer boards in the water, we were able to cover a 50-yard span. That really helps when targeting fish on the flats or any type of structure.”
“We were one of the first boats to weigh in,” concluded Burgett. “We knew there were a lot of good teams left to weigh. It made watching the rest of the teams weigh their fish even more exciting. Luckily our weight held up. This year has been pretty rough fishing tournaments for Kaleb and me so it felt pretty good knowing that we still knew how to catch fish!”
The runner-up spot went to John Jamison from Spring Hill, KS, Mark Thompson from Williamsburg, KS, and Chad Thompson from Pomona, KS. They brought a bag weighing 87.78 pounds to the scales to earn second place and a check for $1,800.
The three-angler team fished the north end of the lake where they saw heavy algae growing. They reported the algae being the “worst they had seen in some time. They predicted a good bite when the Classic rolls around October 30-31. They also observed that when the wind went down the bite did too.
“We caught our fish in 12 to 18 feet of water,” reported Jamison. “We used fresh shad to catch about 10 or 12 all day long.”
Third Place/Big Fish
The third-place weight also included Big Kat of the tournament. Benji Stoller from Saint George, KS, and Derek Bruna from Hanover, KS teamed up to claim the third spot with 74.24 pounds and earn a check for $1,400. The Big Kat weighed 54.96 pounds and added $760 to their earnings.
Stoller and Bruna fished the south end, mid-lake area, saying the morning bite wasn’t bad. They were targeting water that ranged from 20 to 30 feet deep. They reported that the Big Kat came on buffalo fish. While not that common on lists of catfish bait, it was certainly effective on Milford.
Ty Wolf from Olpe, KS, and Troy Kuhlmann from Overbrook, KS had the 4th best weight. Their bag weighed 66.26 pounds and earned them a check for $750.
Wolf and Kuhlmann fished the north end of the lake. They also reported seeing the thick algae growth. The team used cut bait and caught fish in both the morning and afternoon. They caught about 15 fish on the day.
Kevin Parks from Leroy, KS, and local angler, Ryan Gnagy, from Milford, KS brought a total weight of 65.56 pounds to the scales to earn a check for $500.
Parks and Gnagy reported catching their fish early and mid-morning. They were pulling cut bait on Parks Planer Boards. They said they enjoyed fishing because there wasn’t a lot of wind.
Paul Cypher, and Bill Stewart from Butler, PA teamed up with Jason Heinbaugh from Andover, OH to fish the Milford Lake event. They had a total weight of 51.88 pounds to take sixth place and earn a check for $300.
The team reported nice but chilly weather for tournament day. They found their fish at the far end of Milford Lake. They were also baited with cut shad on planer boards to catch around a dozen fish on the day.
The Remaining Top Ten
7th Place – Jared Diepenbrock and Nolan Rummel – 49.90
8th Place – Lance and Chase Nolan – 44.74
9th Place – Tyson and Brenten Burnett – 43.86
10th Place – Eric Conley and Robbie Lucas – 22.52
The 2020 Championship
This year’s Cabela’s King Kat Classic Championship will be held right back on Milford Lake October 30 – 31. The Classic features a guaranteed payout of $120,000 in cash and prizes. The points race is set to pay $30,000 to the top 20 places based on the competitor’s top-five finishes.
Bass Pro Shops Cabela’s King Kat Tournament Trail sponsors include Bass Pro Shops Cabela’s, Excel Boats, Mercury Marine, Mustad Hooks, Humminbird, Minn Kota, B’n’M Poles, Gamma Line, Driftmaster Rod Holders, Ego Nets, EFX Graphics, Catfish Now, Fin n’ Frames, WavePro, Kiobassa Sausage, and Crown Trophy Wave Pro.