Mitchell and Sexton win First Annual Turkey Bowl Classic in Decatur

Wheeler Lake produces big fish at
Turkey Bowl Classic

The First Annual Turkey Bowl Classic, brought to you by HOLD’em HOOK Catfish Trail, was given life on Saturday, November 24, 2018. Seventeen teams left Ingalls Harbor, Decatur, AL at first light. All were in search of the biggest whiskered critter they could find. The top five would qualify for the Fishlife National Championship of Catfishing out of Joe Wheeler State Park, Rogersville, AL in March of 2019.

Living up to its big fish reputation, Wheeler Lake did not disappoint the organizers or the anglers. Unlike most HOLD EM’ HOOK tournaments, this one featured a five-fish weigh-in and it required more than 200 pounds to win.

The Turkey Bowl Classic is a minimum two-person team competition with a third person allowed if over the age 65 or under 16. Teams could weigh two fish over 34 inches and three under. Trailering was allowed to Safety Harbor on Wilson Lake and to Spring Creek Ramp. Departure time was determined by drawing a numbered chip, and when the angler’s number was called they were allowed to leave by water out of Ingalls Harbor or begin to trailer to their destination ramp. The scales were opened at 12:00 for anglers needing to weight early. Official weigh-in time was 3:30 and teams were required to be in line at the weigh-in by 4:00 pm.

Catfish, tournament, Wheeler Lake, Tennessee River, Decatur, Alabama

At the end of the day, it was Mike Mitchell (Southern Cats Guide Service) and Rick Sexton that claimed the top spot. Mitchell and Sexton weighed a whopping big bag of Wheeler blue cats that pulled the scales to more than 200 pounds.

Their first-place weight of 203. 24 pounds included the Big Fish of the tournament at 90.9 pounds. Mitchell and Sexton were fishing on the rope in 10 to 20 feet of water.

“We were using Team Catfish circle hooks, Big Cat Fever Rods, Slime Line, and Monster Rod Holders,” reported Mitchell. “We were anchor fishing around logs and trees with cut skipjack.”

“It was a great day,” concluded Mitchell. “I lost another giant that got me in some structure and broke off. It felt really big. My partner Rick broke his PB twice.”

Catfish, tournament, Wheeler Lake, Tennessee River, Decatur, Alabama

Second place went to Michael Clark and his father in law, Brian Meares. They brought 169.3 pounds to the scales. Their biggest fish was 79.6 and was Second Big Fish of the day. The big fish pushed Clark’s PB put did not quite make it. They caught all their fish dragging with the first one coming on an early bite.

“We caught our biggest fish at 7:30 am,” said Clark. “It weighed 79.6 pounds. We were fishing the lake below Elk River. All our fish were caught on big chunks of skipjack in 30 to 40 feet of water.”

“I fought the big fish for about 10 minutes,” concluded Clark. “My personal best is 86 pounds so it was getting close. The weather was awesome. And to say the least, it was one of the best days we have ever had fishing in a tournament. We caught a total of 20 fish with 8 being overs.”

Catfish, tournament, Wheeler Lake, Tennessee River, Decatur, Alabama

Third place went to Ryan King (K&K Bait Company, Muscle Shoals, AL) and Scott Childers. They teamed up to bring 150.5 pounds to the scales. Their bag included a 76.7-pound Wheeler whopper.

King and Childers chose to trailer to Spring Creek Boat Ramp. They caught 18 fish on the day by fishing a variety of spots using different techniques. They used skipjack that King had caught before the tournament. Five of their fish were overs ranging from 25 to 76 pounds.

“The weather started out cool, a misty rain, and a little wind,” reported King. “Then the sun came out to make a really nice day. We fished everything from river ledges to standing timber. We were dragging baits some and anchor fishing 25 to 40 feet of water.”

“All in all, we a really good day,” concluded King. “It was Scott’s second tourney ever to fish. We broke his personal best and I broke my PB big fish. I also had the opportunity to share some knowledge with Scott like reading the electronics and different methods of fishing. I feel like we had blessed day on wheeler and I want to say thanks to Steve Dobbs for all that he does for the catfisherman in our area.”

HOLD’em HOOK Tournament Director, Steve Dobbs thanked all the anglers for their participation and invited other interested anglers to follow the trail on Facebook for information on future tournaments. New anglers are welcome to come try their luck on the trail. He also gave a special thank you to his tournament sponsors, Dry Creek Marine LLC, Pipeline Tackle, and Catfish NOW Digital Magazine.

Remaining Top Ten

4              Robin East, Bf. 53.2. 139.1

5             Chase Henderson Bf 67.4 138.8

6             Wayne Reed Bf 69.1. 132.4

7             Chad Mayfield Bf 73.7. 125.2

8             Michael Carpenter Bf 42.9 124.5

9             Cad Daly. Bf 44.3. 109.2

10           Chris Robinson Bf 38.6. 102.1

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