Catfish Weekly National Catfish Championship

Structuring a National Catfish Championship    

Lyle Stokes (center) is shown here doing a Catfish Weekly remote broadcast from the 2016 Mississippi River Monsters tournament in Memphis, with Bill Dance. Doc Lange, Jeff Dodd, and Chuck Davidson look on.

Lyle Stokes (center) is shown here doing a Catfish Weekly remote broadcast from the 2016 Mississippi River Monsters tournament in Memphis, with Bill Dance. Doc Lange, Jeff Dodd, and Chuck Davidson look on.

There has been much talk in catfish circles about a “true” National Catfish Championship. The talk ranges from those who don’t want one at all to those that think it is destined to come. Currently the only event based on some type of qualifying credentials are for local, regional or national catfish trails. Many trails have their own year ending tournaments to determine the best of the best.

These tournaments all bring bragging rights, honor and recognition, but it is a stretch to call the winners national champions, in the purest sense of the term. A new tournament structure is being offered by Lyle and Cindy Stokes. Lyle is a co-host of the popular Catfish Weekly online TV show that airs every Monday night. The tournament will carry the name, Catfish Weekly National Catfish Championship (CWNCC).

Stokes has years of previous experience running tournaments. “I thought this up over a period of months,” said Stokes.  “Cindy and I started and ran the Twisted Cat Outdoors tournaments for 9 years. I gave that series to Alex Nagy and his wife Elizabeth, who now do an outstanding job with it. Lately, my thoughts have been aimed at developing a structure for a true national catfish championship.”

Stokes plans to put the event on using the Catfish Weekly name and show to promote it. Stokes will be the MC, while weigh-in duties will be carried out by a third party. “Of course, Doc (Lange) and Chuck (Davidson) will help too,” revealed Stokes, referiing to his Catfish Weekly co-hosts.

Cindy Stokes is always on hand to organized the scheduled guests. Her organizational skills will come in handy for the National Championship.

Cindy Stokes is always on hand to organized the scheduled guests. Her organizational skills will come in handy for the National Championship.

Stokes believes firmly, that a true national championship should span the country and bring numerous local and regional tournaments into the process through a qualifying system. That process is what he has been working on. Although not completely finalized, at this writing, it is garnering great interest from all across the country.

“…a true national championship should span the country and bring numerous local and regional tournaments into the process …”

 

“The process is relatively simple,” stated Stokes. “Every tournament director that wants to include his tournament can join the group by paying a $100 fee. Their membership will allow them to qualify their top 5 teams for the national championship. If they run more than one event they will pay $100 for each event and qualify 5 teams for each event. If a trail does a year-ending classic they can pay the fee for the classic and qualify 5 teams like anyone else.”

Stokes went on to explain that If someone wants to do their Classic and another major event, they could pay 2 fees and be able to qualify 10 teams. The structure will be the same for every state in the union.

“If a director only holds 1 tournament per year, that is fine,” explained Stokes. “They pay $100 and the top 5 for that event is qualified. If a series has 2 year-end tournaments, they can qualify 10 teams by paying two fees.”

Qualifying actually starts in 2016 with Winter Blues on Wheeler. The New Year’s Eve tournament was the first to qualify teams. (            Winners     )  Qualifying events will continue through 2017 for the first National Catfish Championship that will be held in 2018.

For teams that qualify for the Catfish Weekly National Catfish Championship, the entry fee will be $300. The event will be 100% payout, plus sponsor prizes. Payout will apply to the top 10 teams in the tournament. “That calculation makes for a huge payout for those teams in the top tier,” explained Stokes. “Any additional money or prizes from sponsors will be added after the top ten places.”

A major step for organizers is to choose a location for the inaugural event in 2018. A tentative date for the National Championship has been set for May 13, 2018. It is planned for the PB2 Boat Ramp at Lake Ozark Mo. A regatta permit has been applied for and no other tournaments are scheduled on that date.

Location is an important consideration for the national event, since rules will have to be adopted to meet state rules and regulations. Organizers also have to find a place big enough to hold the event.

“There is a good chance the tournament will be held in different places throughout the US in future years,” reported Stokes. “By doing it this way, we can help promote the qualifying events and in turn that will help us promote the championship. The list of qualifying tournaments that want in on this is growing daily. It is going to be a huge event.”

 

More information and updates on the Catfish Weekly National Catfish Championship can be found on their Facebook page. Updates will include a list of current qualifying tournaments.

 

Epilogue:

 

As planned for 2018 the CFWNCC is a one day, but a two day event is not out of the question for the future. “If it becomes a two-day event, the first day will be used to qualify anglers for day two. The first day’s field will be cut in half for the second day’s competition,” predicted Stokes as he looked into the future.

 

To date, the following tournaments have signed up as qualifying events:

 

Mississippi River Monsters, TN

Monsters on the Ohio, KY

Rising Sun Tournament, IN

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