Mike Mitchell, Jackson Mitchell, & Rick Sexton win Cabela’s King Kat Tournament on Watts Bar

Catfish anglers from ten states traveled to the Tennessee River and Watts Bar Lake for a Cabela’s King Kat Tournament Trail Super Event. Forty-six teams gathered at Loudon, TN, to test their catfishing skills against other anglers and Mother Nature.

Watts Bar Dam, located midway between Knoxville and Chattanooga, is one of nine TVA dams on the Tennessee River. The lake is known for its big blue cats. Competitors were vying for $13,000 in cash and prizes, and an opportunity to qualify for the $110,000 Classic Championship to be held September 14 and 15, 2018, on the Ohio River at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

The April 13th and 14th event was characterized by clear and sunny skies both days, but the anglers were challenged by a tough south wind blowing at 15-20 mph all day, both days. Winning anglers all fished off the rope to beat the windy conditions. Low water levels contributed to a tough bite and another challenge for the anglers.

Results for the Top Teams


Top honors for the two-day event went to the three-person team of Mike Mitchell, Jackson Mitchell, and Rick Sexton. They weighed 197.68 pounds to win. Their bag included a big Watts Bar flathead that weighed 47.04 pounds to also give them the Big Kat honors.

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The team fished 7 miles downriver from Loudon. They targeted their fish in faster moving water while most of the current in the lake was light. They fished on the rope in about 25-30 feet of water using skipjack for bait.

About 20 catfish were landed for the weekend, including the big flathead. Lady luck may have played a small role in the outcome as the Big Kat winning flathead came to the boat about 2:48 pm, just 12 minutes before they had to quit fishing on the last day of the tournament. The win earned them $5,300 and Big Kat added $925 to their check.

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Second Place went to David Hill and Scott Martin from Louisville and Maryville, TN. They weighed in 156.18 pounds to claim the runner-up spot and earn $2,500.

Hill and Martin anchor fished both days. They said they basically tried to find places out of the wind to fish. They stayed near the Watts Bar dam in 20-25 feet of water to catch their fish. They used the old standby skipjack to catch about 16 fish on the weekend. catfish, tournament

The third place spot was claimed by Rob Benningfield from Bowling Green, KY and Ricky Eiselt from Louisville, KY. They weighed 137.58 pounds to earn $1,900.

Benningfield and Eiselt fished 10 miles downriver from Loudon on the first day and about 25 miles downriver on day-two. They reported that the fish were scattered and they had to move to catch each of their fish.

They reported that the fish were holding tight to structure and trash. They were baiting with skipjack and fishing flats in 10-24 feet of water where they caught about 16 fish during the two-day tournament.

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Samuel Cate and Chris Vittetoe teamed up to win fourth place. They hail from Mascot and Knoxville, TN. Their two-day weight of 124.84 pounds earned them a check for $900.

Cate and Vittetoe fished around the 72 Boat Ramp. They also reported that the fish were scattered. They targeted flats in 25-30 feet of water. Fishing from the rope and using skipjack for bait netted them more than 20 fish for the weekend.

catfish, tournament

Daniel Bell from Georgetown, OH and Randy Neville from Cincinnati, OH finished fifth with 122.1 pounds to earn $700.

Bell and Neville chose to fish upriver from Loudon. They reported being about 10 miles from Watts Bar Dam where they targeted some flats in 30 feet of water. Like many other teams, they found the fish to be scattered. They anchor fished both days using skipjack for bait.

The Remaining Top Teams

6th Place – Chris & Dawn Groff – 104.70lbs

7th Place – Terohn Heinrich and Jared Coker – 99.96

8th Place – Jamie Beans and Jeremy Goins – 97.52

9th Place – Ryan Lawrence and Mark Blauvelt – 95.38

10 Place – John Howard and Bobby Chilcutt – 95.26 


Tournament director, Jeremy Coe thanked many people who made the Watts Bar event possible: Rachel Baker with Loudon County Visitors Bureau and Loudon County Chamber of Commerce; Mark Harrell and his staff at the Loudon Parks and Recreation Department; Butch Thompson with G-Daddys Bait and Tackle; and all the other local people that supported the event.

“The people and the town of Loudon, as well as the County of Loudon, are so hospitable,” stated Coe. “It’s truly one of the best places we go on the schedule. We are very excited to have returned to this great fishery and location on the banks of the Tennessee River and Watts Bar Lake! It was definitely tough fishing this weekend, but that’s why they call it fishing. A normal April tournament on this lake would yield 260 pounds or better for a two-day tournament. That just shows you how tough the fishing was, but the lake still produced nearly 200 pounds.” 

National Sponsors

Cabela’s King Kat Tournament Trail sponsors include: Cabela’s, Adventure Products EGO Nets, RigRap, B ‘n’ M Poles, Minn Kota, Mercury Marine, Mustad Hooks, Driftmaster Rodholders, Gamma Line, Humminbird Electronics, World Fishing Network (WFN), Rippin’ Lips, Cat River Anchors, Sunsect Sunscreen & Insect Repellent, Humminbird Lakemaster Maps, Digital EFX Wraps, Tentology, Gill Rainwear, CatfishNow Digital Magazine, Whisker Wear Apparel, The Original Clearboard, Extreme Bait Systems and Katfish Clothing.

For more information on the championship and other King Kat activities visit their website at www.kingkatusa.com. Anglers can also follow the trail on the Cabela’s King Kat Facebook Page.

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