Total weight of 227.40 lifts Brookshire, McDaniel and Griggs to win at Santee Cooper Monster Cat Quest 2019
The highly anticipated Santee Cooper Monster Cat Quest 2019 shined brightly in its third year of operation. Two pre-tournament tournaments added to the competition and had some great fish coming to the scales. Wednesday’s pre-tournament tournament was held out of Hill’s Landing and Thursday’s pre-tournament tournament was held at Canal Lakes. The big fish weighed at those prefishing events gave cause to expect some big fish in the main tournament.
The 2019 event, held once again out of Black’s Camp and Restaurant, attracted 177 boats. There were more sponsors, more spectators, and a championship belt for the big fish winners in the youth and adult divisions.
The 100% payout tournament resulted in $35,000 in cash, plus prizes valued at more than $5,000 being distributed to the anglers. The first-place team received a check for $11,948. The tournament paid cash to the top seven finishing teams.
Anglers started the first day under beautiful weather conditions. Extremely light winds and mild temperatures made early fishing comfortable and easy. That weather faded as the morning progressed. By mid-morning anglers were fighting heavy winds in choppy waters.
Anglers were allowed to fish either of the two Santee Cooper lakes and bring a total of 4 fish per day, per boat. Based on SC regulations anglers could bring in two fish over 36 inches and two fish under 36 inches.
Team Kitty Tickler was in the lead after day one. Michael Passmore and Joshua Skinner weighed 125.20 pounds in a bag that include a 52.20-pound Arkansas blue.
A cold front moved in overnight and anglers were challenged by colder temperatures and more high winds for day two. By the end of the day, it was Team Toolman at the top of the leader board.
Gray Brookshire, Nelson McDaniel, and Phillip Griggs had a two-day total of 227.40 pounds to claim the top spot and a check for $11,948.
Team Toolman had finished day one with122.60 pounds and were sitting in second place. They were less than three pounds behind the day one leaders. They added 104.80 on day two. The team used the pre-tournament tournaments as a warmup for the main event and were not very encouraged.
“We fished Lake Moultrie for the pre-tournament competition,” reported Phillip Griggs. “We struggled to find big fish and only weighed in a 33-pound blue in the Hills Landing Pre-Tournament.”
The team’s strategy was to continue fishing Moultrie, but at a different location. Their intended strategy was to drift and it paid off.
“On the first day of the tournament our captain, Gray Brookshire, took us to a location that had produced big fish in years past,” continued Griggs. “There was no wind early in the morning to drift so we pulled lines on planer boards to cover as much area as possible.”
“We caught our two big fish of the day within 30 minutes after setting up,” added Griggs. “We weighed those fish in early due to pump problems with our livewell. After repairing the livewell, we returned to the same location and caught our under 36-inch fish later in the day. As the wind built during the day we went back to drifting.”
The team returned to the same location on Saturday and adapted to the high winds that made drifting tough. Because it was productive on Friday the team wanted to continue drifting. They deployed multiple drift socks in an attempt to keep their drift speed at about .5 mph. They were drifting with conventional Santee Cooper rigs baited with river herring. They caught about 15 to 20 fish each day.
The runner-up spot went to Barry Moore and Jason Sullivan. Fishing under the name of Team Lock Jaw they weighed a two-day total of 214.80 pounds to claim the second spot and earn a check for $6,107.
Moore and Sullivan fished the beginning of a creek that leads to the main body of Lake Moultrie. They used sonar to locate fish and made precise casts to their location. The remainder of their rods were fan cast around the boat. Their shallowest fish came out of 6 feet of water with 8 feet being most productive.
“We spent both days trusting our side-scan,” said Moore. “We were finding fish in 5 to 9 feet of water before dropping anchors and throwing a variety of bait at them. The first day all the fish wanted was cut gizzard shad. The second day was completely different. All they would eat was cut and live perch.”
“The wind is something we are familiar with on Santee, continued Moore. “We knew it was going to blow pretty good. That’s why we choose to anchor. When it blows like that it’s hard to get a good bait presentation in my opinion.”
“We used Carolina rigs, some with floats some without,” revealed Moore. “Most of the fish came on rigs with no float. We culled a lot of fish in the two days using this method. We saw some true monsters but couldn’t get them to commit to the bait.”
“Monster Cat Quest is a well put together tournament,” said Moore. “I plan to attend it as long as they have it!”
Team ProKat discovered just how much size matters as they weighed a two-day total of 211.38 pounds. Van Berry & David Lovelace returned ten 36-inch fish on Friday as they searched for their required under 36-inch fish. They fished on the rope using river herring for bait.
“It’s funny the name of this tournament is Santee Cooper Monster Cat Quest,” joked Lovelace. “That is a name with big shoes to fill, believe me. We had a great day on Friday with a 48-inch fish and a 45-inch fish. We just had trouble catching a fish under 36 inches. We threw back ten overs before finally getting our unders.”
“Saturday was pretty tough after that storm come through,” continued Lovelace. “They shut down for us. We finally got one good fish and struggled the rest of the day to just put three more in the tank we still ended up with 90 pounds the second day! If we could have had one of the 36-inch fish we threw back on day one, I’m pretty sure we would have won.”
“But as the old saying goes, that is fishing,” said Lovelace. “We still placed third. We had a great time and we beat 175 boats that are brutally serious fisherman.”
“We had a great time this weekend fishing the tournament,” concluded Lovelace. “We want to thank the organizers for the opportunity to fish such a good tournament.”
4th place – $2,390 Travis Bradshaw & Steven Johnson
5th place – $1,859 Evan Martin & Larry Godwin
6th place – $1,328 Anthony Finley & Seth Hagan
7th place – $500 Wayne Estes & Alan Jesse Kerley
Charles Williams won the No Fish Weight for Day 2. He was awarded $400.00 and a bait tank from The Bait Shack.
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.
Big Fish awards will be reported in a future post from CatfishNow, just click on the Whicker Whackers tab.