Anticipating Monsters on the Ohio with Paul Blackwell
Monsters on the Ohio is one of the most anticipated tournaments of the year. Under the tutelage of tournament angler Aaron Wheatley, the tournament has grown from a small tournament in 2010 to one of the biggest catfish tournaments in the nation.
Monsters on the Ohio takes place in Owensboro, KY, a very supportive and inviting community that looks forward to the out of town anglers coming to town. Likewise, the anglers look forward to going because of the tremendous hospitality that Wheatley and the city show to its visiting anglers.
South Carolina angler Paul Blackwell is a catfish angler who has followed the tournament over the years but never had the opportunity to fish it. That changed in 2017 when Blackwell put the tourney on his schedule and has been planning for it ever since.
This year Blackwell upgraded his boat in anticipation of fishing more tournaments. On October 8th, 2017 he pulled his Jeff Jones Marine, SeaArk Procat 240, up to a ramp on the Ohio River for the very first time.
After a long drive from SC, his first sight of the Ohio River brought thoughts of what the sport of catfishing meant to him.
Blackwell was thinking, “There she is. It’s amazing that I get to do this. It’s a privilege to be a fisherman and see the things I see. Now, I’m finally going to get the opportunity to fish the Ohio River.”
The next morning Blackwell was on the river early. Being that it was the first time ever on the river there were a few feelings of uncertainty.
“Today was my first day on the Ohio River,” offered Blackwell. “It’s a big river. I’ve never fished the Ohio River before, so I have a lot to learn in a short amount of time. Monsters on the Ohio is set for this Saturday and that is only 5 days away.”
“The Ohio River is unlike most of the waterways I normally fish,” said Blackwell. “It’s a river and I’m a lake fisherman. Usually I already have somewhat of a plan before I ever see the water itself, because I can do my homework using tools like Navionics and satellite images of the system or lake/river banks.”
“There are no Navionics maps of the Ohio,” instructed Blackwell. “I was basically blind until I got on the water and had a chance to investigate the river. I have gotten some insights from other fishermen about the Ohio River. That has helped.”
Blackwell spent his first day discovering all he could about the river.
“I rode around and mapped the lake all day using my Hummingbird Solix. I picked an area of the river and just rode back and forth in every direction. I was trying to cover the whole section at 7 mph. The river has about .8 mph of current right now, so it’s basically like a lake. I never wet a hook or placed a bait today. I think the most important thing is to learn the bottom first. There will be plenty of time to put baits in the water this week.”
“I was surprised at how clean the bottom was. Finding structure was hard. The ledge of the actual channel is not as defined as on some other rivers I’ve fished. That finding surprised me.”
“There’s a lot of barge traffic,” discovered Blackwell. “Rest assured, they’ll let you know when you’re in their way and you best heed that horn.”
At the end of his first day on the water Blackwell started planning the next day.
“All and all I’ve had a good first day on the water. Early tomorrow morning I’m going to try and actually fish a couple of spots I found today. Then it’s back to riding and mapping another section of the river. Basically, that will be my plan for the rest of the week.”
“The Ohio is a beautiful river and it’s one of those bucket list places I’ve wanted to fish. I’m going to make the best of my time while I am here.”
Blackwell will fish the tournament with his regular tournament partner and stepdaughter, Madison Adkins.
“She’s excited to be coming to Monsters,” revealed Blackwell. “This is the biggest tournament she’s been a part of. My wife, Jennifer and Madison will be driving up on Thursday.”
“My Madison’s birthday is this Wednesday,” concluded Blackwell. “She will be 12 years old, so I am going to work hard to find her some fish to catch come Saturday. It would be an awesome birthday present for her to be able to stand up on our SeaArk, at Monsters on the Ohio weigh-in, with a nice catfish to show the crowd. I can’t imagine a better way to spend your birthday weekend.”
Blackwell will be representing his major sponsors, Catch the Fever, Jeff Jones Marine and Katfish Clothing at the tournament.