Team Shipman/Nash bag 93.15 pounder on their way to Big Cat Quest Championship at New Madrid

Whole lotta bumpin’ goin’ on

Bumpin’ the Mississippi River is a favorite way to catch trophy catfish. The bumping method is a situation where anglers set the bow of their boat into the current and use the trolling motor to control a backward drift at their preferred speed. Each angler holds a single rod and bumps the bait behind the boat in the current.

Saturday Oct. 7. 2017 was the first day of the two-day Bass Pro Shops Big Cat Quest out of New Madrid, MO. Anglers were vying for trophies, cash and braggin’ rights on the Mighty Mississippi River.

The community of New Madrid always welcomes the anglers to town and turns out for the weigh-in. “Despite the wind and a shower or two, it was great,” said Christina McWaters, Executive Director at New Madrid Chamber of Commerce.  “This event just keeps growing! The crowd always enjoys seeing the anglers and what they have caught.”

And catch they did. Most anglers reported a very good bite. Many of the top anglers reported catching 40 or more fish during the two-day event.

First Place catfish, tournament, New Madrid, Big Cat Quest, Bass Pro Shops, Mississippi River

B’n’M Poles pro staffer, David Shipman, teamed up with Brett Nash to fish the year ending tournament. Saturday was very windy and the river was very low. Shipman and Nash were bumping down the river ledge in 30- to 40-foot water.

“We had seen a few fish,” reported Shipman. “We were fishing about a half mile drift. The bite was very slow on Saturday, we only caught 5 fish. But, the first one was a 50-pound blue.”

About 30 minutes later Shipman got another bite. He said it felt about the same size as the first one.

“As I got the fish closer to the boat she came up and I got a pretty good look at her,” said Shipman. “I told Brett that it was at least a 70-pound fish. We worked her slowly to the boat and got her in the net.”

Once they pulled the big blue onboard Shipman turned to Nash as said, “Man, I believe she’s over 80 pounds.”

“We weighed her in at around 93 with our boat scales,” continued Shipman. “It took us the rest of our fishing time to boat the other three fish we needed for weigh-in. With the big one we managed 190.30 pounds and led the tournament on day one.”

Day two weather was just as bad. It was pouring down rain, it was windy, and Shipman reported the bite was just as slow.

“On day two Brett boated the first 5 fish by himself,” reported Shipman. “One of those went about 35 pounds. I finally caught a fish around 1:00 p.m. It was only 10 pounds, but we culled an 8-pound fish with it.”

“Brett pulled us through on day two. We only had 83 pounds, but it was enough to take the lead by almost 2 pounds. New Madrid is a great place to fish,” concluded Shipman.

Second Place catfish, tournament, New Madrid, Big Cat Quest, Bass Pro Shops, Mississippi River

Another B’n’M pro, Hunter Jones, paired up with Terry Shands, to fish the BCQ Championship. According to Jones, fishing started out good.

“Our first spot was a rock bank,” reported Jones. “We had found some fish on the bank prior to the tournament. They were holding tight to the rocks, causing us to brake off several rigs. We just kept grinding it out, and it paid off.”

“Our fish were coming from about 30 to 40 feet of water. We were walking baits up to 300 feet behind the boat, while moving as slow as 0.08 mph at times. We caught about 15 fish on day one. At the end of day one, we were sitting in 4th place with 134 pounds.”

“We knew we had some making up to do on day two,” offered Jones. “We headed to a new area that we were hoping nobody had hit on day one. Within a couple of hours, we had a 41-pound and a 42-pound fish in the boat. Then the bite just turned off for us. We tried two more spots and no bite, so we knew we had to come up with a plan fast.”

Jones and Shands decided to run to the granary, expecting to at least three 10- to 20-pound fish to finish up their 5 fish limit.

“Luckily, we were able to do just as we had planned,” said Jones. “We managed to catch 6 more fish before tournament time was up. We knew we had another pretty good day, but we had no idea that it would come down to as close as it did.”

Jones and Shands finished with 137 pounds on day two for a tournament total of 272 pounds. Their strong tournament performance left them just 1.7 pounds out of first place.

Third Place catfish, tournament, New Madrid, Big Cat Quest, Bass Pro Shops, Mississippi River

Third place went to the team of Tony Hunt, Russ Devore and Tyler Moses. The three-man team pooled their talents to bring 266.55 pounds to the scales in the two days of fishing.

“The bite was good,” reported Moses. “The weather was not. It was windy and rainy. We had good rain gear and stuff, so it wasn’t too bad. The fish catching really helps keep your mind off the weather.”

The team did better on day one with fresh bait, catching 157.80 vs. 108.75 on day two.

“We had fresh bait for Saturday and frozen for Sunday,” said Moses. “We just drifted using a mix of back bouncing and dead-sticking. We found a group of fish and worked through them for two days. We caught 40 to 45 fish over the two days of the tournament.”

Fourth Place catfish, tournament, Big Cat Quest, Bass Pro Shops, New Madrid

The father/son team of Jackie and Jonathan Cooksey took the fourth-place spot. They weighed a two-day total of 223.40 pounds.

“We got to New Madrid the day before the tournament and found several areas holding fish,” said Jonathan. “We started in an area that was showing the bigger fish.”

“We were bumping in 3 to 3.5 mph current using Whisker Seeker Tackle Bump’n Sticks,” explained Johathan. “We were baiting with skipjack and using 8 ounces of weight.”

“The weather was really windy the first day with some rain later in the day,” concluded Jonathan. “The weather cooled off some the next day and the wind died down some too. We caught a lot of fish. They bit well for us in a range of 25 to 60 feet of water.”

New Madrid certainly showed its potential in the tournament as witnessed by Shipman’s 93.15-pound blue. That potential is why anglers like to fish New Madrid!

For more information on BCQ visit their website or follow them on Facebook.

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