Invited anglers fishing the 2020 Twisted Cat Outdoors Championship were greeted with high winds and rough water on Lake of the Ozarks, MO.
The Championship was by invitation only. Anglers had to be among the top 50 anglers for the season, based on their top 5 2020 events, or be a first-place or big fish winner at a local event during the season. The result was a championship eligible field of 69 anglers. This process produced 26 registered boats and 60 anglers competing in the championship for $10,000 in cash and a host of prizes from the trail’s sponsors.
The Friday night Captains Meeting and registration included a BBQ Dinner at Robin’s Resort, drawing of boat numbers, a reading of the rules, and a Calcutta. Anglers began tournament day the following morning with a livewell check at Robin’s Resort and the take-off at 7:30 am. They were required to be back at weigh-in by 3:30 pm.
Tournament rules allowed anglers to weigh-in 5 fish with no slot limit on channel cats or flatheads. The Missouri slot on blues is 26 to 34 inches and anglers could include two over slot blue cats in their bag.
First Place/Big Fish/Biggest Under
Joe Bell teamed up with David Burts to claim the top spot in the TCO championship. They weighed 72.66 pounds to earn the first-place spot and a check for $4,500. Their bag included Big Fish of the tournament at 35.98 pounds and added $250 to their earnings. They also had a 6.22-pound fish for biggest under and another $250. First place also receives 20 percent of the Calcutta ($402). In addition to cash prizes, they received an array of products from trail sponsors Dave’s Marine, a ProGuide Batteries, and Big Cat Fever Rods.
Bell and Burts were fishing what they consider their home water. They know the area pretty well and they spent time prefishing before the tournament.
“We caught a lot of fish prefishing,” reported Bell. “They just weren’t much on size. Lake of the Ozarks has a slot limit from 26 to 34 inches and I only caught one over in three days of fishing before the tournament.”
“I had caught a few slot fish in what I consider my most productive spot,” continued Bell. “And when we catch slots in a spot, we suspect an over is nearby. When we catch nothing but 3- to 5-pound fish we typically don’t have much luck with larger fish.”
So, Bell and Burts went into tournament day expecting their go-to spot to have a few good fish. At the Captains Meeting the night before they received their take-off position. On tournament morning they started off from Robin’s Resort.
“We drew boat number 5,” Bell said. “I took that to be a great sign because my late father’s racing number was 5. The weather was clear most all day but the wind was gusting up to 45 mph throughout the day.”
The team headed for the cove they selected to start on tournament day. In the first 20 minutes, they had their first over, a fish in the lower 20’s. They experience a good bite using 6- to 10-inch shad that they were cutting up for bait. The team had 5 fish in the first hour.
“After that first spot, we moved around to another cove,” explained Bell. “We marked a pile of fish. We anchored up but just got one slot fish to show for our efforts.”
Then they moved to another cove where they had caught a good fish while prefishing. They found fish but nothing worth noting and nothing that would cull. At 11:30 they went back to their first spot and anchored in 27 to 30 feet of water.
“We knew from the graph there was some fish deep,” Bell said. “We also marked some fish feeding up the ledge in 18 to 11 feet of water. We threw two poles shallow and four poles deep.”
Burts was making them a sandwich for lunch when his shallow water rod slammed down. The rod was bending over in the rod holder and the fish was pulling drag. It ended up being Big Fish of the tournament at 35.98 pounds.
“All in all we had a great week of fishing,” concluded Bell. “I believe we had 14 fish by the end of the day. We were lucky for the bites we got and they paid off.”
The runner-up spot went to Chris Brinegar and Troy Phillips. They teamed up to bring 55.96 pounds to the scales and finish in the second spot at the Twisted Cat Outdoors 2020 Championship. Their efforts earned them a check for $2,000 and a Smooth Moves pedestal seat.
“The fishing was super tuff,” reported Brinegar. “The winds were crazy strong!”
Brinegar and Phillips only fished 3 spots all day, but that was plenty to earn them a second-place finish. They began with a long drift and then, given the high winds, decided to fish on the rope for the remainder of the day.
“We were fishing 45- to 55-foot-deep water,” concluded Brinegar. “Our fish all came on shad.”
Briar Hoffman and Rachel and Bradley Monnig teamed up to win the third spot. They brought a bag of just over 42 pounds to the scales to earn a check for $1,500 and a Smooth Move pedestal seat.
“The weather was great for the first few hours,” reported Hoffman. “Then the wind picked up around 10 o’clock and made fishing pretty tough. We had some wind gust up to 30 mph.”
Briar, Rachel, and Bradley fished about 40 miles up from the weigh-in site at Robins Resort. They caught 9 smaller fish dragging carp, shad, and skipjack.
“We were dragging a 25-foot-deep ledge,” continued Hoffman. “We decided to suspended two rods while we drifted four rods off the back. Most of our fish came while fishing ledge drop-offs.”
“Our bigger fish came off a suspended bait,” Hoffman said. “The big fish was about 30 pounds and hit a skipjack head. In fact, the bait of choice for the day was skipjack. We didn’t have much luck on shad or carp.”
“The boat took a beating,” concluded Hoffman. “We had to go slow on the way back to weigh-in because of the waves. We were actually hitting the waves so hard that my Lowrance HDS Live fish finder stopped working. Other than that, nothing too unusual happened.”
The Remaining Top Ten
4th – (37.8) Andrew Little & Jeff Singer
5th – (29.39) Lance Picker, Rylea Lohmann & Degen Sanders
6th – (29.16) John Spatafora & Brian Saunders
7th – (20.2) Kyle Cobb & Mike Draffen
8th – (19.22) Andrew Hargrave, Ron Brown & Stephanie Jordan
9th – (18.58) Brandon Schadt, Justin Borgfield & Aaron Meyer
10th – (18.11) Bob Morefield, Rusty Morefield & Jason Hamilton
At the end of the day, anglers had caught 106 catfish that weighed 523.99 pounds.
Tournament Director Alex Nagy offered a special thanks to Robin’s Resort for hosting the tournament and to all the trail sponsors for making the TCO possible.
If you want more information on Twisted Cat Outdoors visit their website at https://twistedcatoutdoors.com.