Big Fish Winners at 2019 Santee Cooper Monster Cat Quest
Big fish are expected at Santee Cooper and anglers were not let down at the 2019 Santee Cooper Monster Cat Quest. The event scheduled out of Black’s Camp and Restaurant attracted 177 teams, all hoping to catch a monster.
This year’s event featured pre-tournament tournaments on Wednesday and Thursday preceding the main event. Each was one-fish tournaments. A prize of $500 was awarded by each day’s sponsor for the single biggest fish each day.
Wednesday’s event was sponsored by and held at Hills Landing. Big Fish honors went to Darren Hill with a 72.7-pound blue. The day-two pre-tournament tournament moved to the other side of the bridge at Canal Lakes Fish Camp. Darryl Kerley and Robert Swing took the day with a 62.9-pound Santee Cooper blue.
First Place Big Fish
Anglers and spectators at the main event had to wait for the last boat of the day on Saturday to know who won the Big Fish title. Alan Long (Fish Bite Rod Holders) and Bill Sutton (“Flathead Bill”) provided the drama as they were the last boat to the scales. The crowd was buzzing with the word that they had a big fish.
The crowd watched with anticipation as Long went to the livewell and pulled out a 68.40-pound blue to claim the Big Fish title and the Big Fish Championship Belt. Prizes also included an Abu 6500 Catfish Edition Reel from Jamie K Outdoors and a check for $5,910.
Long and Sutton had decided to start the day anchored. They navigated to their spot and deployed their Hurricane Anchors and began to set up.
“It was a dark and windy morning,” reported Sutton. “The sky was red at sunrise, and we worried that conditions would be worse than expected. As the sun came up, we started catching a lot of fish. When the wind picked up more, we moved to another spot. It got really windy, at least 30 mph with 4-foot swells.”
The fish weren’t biting so Team Fish Bite pulled anchors to head back to the first spot where the fish were biting earlier. They quickly realized that they were the only anglers in open water. They made a retreat to the shallows in an effort to take a break from the wind.
“During our break from the wind, I was reminded of a conversation I had recently with a young buck on the circuit” recalled Sutton. “We fished a tournament together on a rainy cold windy day. He called me a hard-headed old man because I refused to leave open water. I decided to live up to my new-found reputation and we head back out.”
As it turns out, Long is a hard-headed old man too. He was more than willing to take on the open water and the conditions it offered in search of the big one. The team returned to an area close to their first spot.
“That’s where we thought the fish would now be biting,” said Sutton. “As soon as we anchored down the winds started to die down. We baited up with magnum shad from Jamie K Outdoors. We had been anchored down about 10 minutes when Alan had a rod pulling down slowly. He reeled down and it was on!”
“The beast ran straight for the anchor rope,” continued Sutton. “And wrapped around the anchor line twice. He was on the surface but out of reach of the net. With a bit of luck and experience, we managed to get her unwrapped and in the boat.”
“We followed that with a large celebration,” concluded Sutton. “It was the most exciting fish ever!”
Big Fish Female Division
The Big Fish in the Ladies Division went to Lindsey Patterson. Her big Arkansas blue pulled the scales to an even 52 pounds to claim the $200 in cash, a Big Fish plaque, a Championship Ring, a Warrior Cat Rod, and a gift card from Calyx Outdoors.
“We were fishing in the lower lake in shallow water,” explained Lindsey. “We had anchored down in what Benji calls his, ‘Ace in the Hole’ spot. We were set up for a couple of hours into day two and then BOOM! That beautiful blue hit one of our rods as pretty as you please. After how our day one ended the way it did, and the great Santee being the beast it can be at times (like this past weekend) the moment of that 52-pound fish being on the floor of the boat, made it all worth the hard fishing and work! He was hungry for a nice piece of river herring.”
Big Fish Youth Division
The Santee Cooper Monster Cat Quest featured male and female youth divisions. The youth with the heaviest catfish received the Youth Championship Belt and the other was awarded a Championship Medal. Both Youth Division winners received a check for $625 donated by Fish On Guide Service, Doss Marine, Pig Pen Guide Service, and Dennis Dulin.
This year’s Championship Belt and the Youth Male Division went to Bishop White. He was fishing with Alan Penny and his dad Billy Martin on Team River Retreat. He earned the belt with a 37.40-pound blue.
The team was anchored on the lower lake and the 37.40-pound blue was the first fish to bite. The big fish took a small piece of cut bait. The fish pulled so hard that Bishop had to set down to reel it in.
“We were fishing lower lake at first light in about 14 feet of water,” reported Penny. The rods were baited with shad and herring. Bishop had first grabs at the rods and it didn’t take long. Bishop did a super job wearing him down and we netted the Arkansas blue— just making memories. The smile says it all.”
Olivia Osteen took the Female Youth Division. She was fishing with Eric and Marya Jenkins on Team Hook Line & Sinker when she boated her 32.90-pound blue to win the Top Female Youth honors.
Olivia was fishing in the upper lake using shad and perch for bait. This was Miss O’s second and last year to fish this tournament and she placed second both times. She walked away with a Championship Medal in addition to her $625.00 check.
To keep up with Santee Cooper Monster Cat Quest activities follow them on Facebook as they prepare for the 2020 Santee Cooper Monster Cat Quest.