Catfish Kid – Hunter Fussell
Young cat man wins coveted Santee Cooper Monster Cat Quest Big Fish Championship Belt
The Santee Cooper Monster Cat Quest held their inaugural catfish tournament out of Black’s Camp, SC. The two-day event attracted 76 teams from 11 states to compete on the big fish lakes of Santee Cooper.
Many anglers were attracted to the possibility of catching a big Santee Cooper catfish and winning what rapidly became the coveted Championship Belt that would be awarded to the top adult and youth competitors. The prestigious belt would go to the anglers in each division for catching the heaviest fish of the tournament.
When the results were in the adult belt was shared by the team of Ben Billingsley and Evan Martin for their catch of a 54.16-pound Santee Cooper blue catfish. Fourteen-year-old Hunter Fussell claimed the big fish honors in the youth division with a 41.63-pound blue.
Hunter, from Goose Creek, SC, has a strong conservation ethic and believes in taking care of the trophy fish. He was spotted in the water at the release point accepting other anglers fish and making sure they were released in good shape.
“We normally fish lake Moultrie,” reported Hunter. “Sometimes we fish Lake Marion. I fish every chance I get, of course that’s after deer season, which is between September and January 1st.”
Hunter is optimistic about his fishing. “I enjoy catching catfish because of the thrill of always expecting to catch a bigger one. I have learned everything I know about catching catfish from my dad Terry Fussell. I enjoy the time we spend together, either on the water fishing or in the woods hunting.”
“It doesn’t necessarily have to be catfish that we are catching,” continued Hunter. “I just enjoy catching fish in general. The best thing about fishing or hunting is definitely spending time with my family.”
With respect to the fish that won him the Youth Championship Belt, Hunter was fishing shallow. “We were anchored in about 3 to 4 foot of water on Lake Moultrie,” revealed Hunter. “We had 8 Ugly Stick rods out, rigged with 3-foot leaders, rod rattlers and 5/0 hooks. We were baited with herring waiting for the bite.”
“Then the big Arkansas blue hit. I knew it was a big one when I could hardly pull the rod from the holder. This was the first fish of the day and the biggest fish I have ever caught. I was thinking, man this is going to be a great day.”
“We caught 2 more that day, but nothing compared to the 41 pounder I caught,” continued Hunter. “We normally drift with a Santee rig in deeper water, but this time of year the big ones are in shallow water. I love the excitement of a big fish boiling the shallow water. It is a big adrenaline rush.”
“I’m happy and I’m very excited that I won the youth class in my first tournament,” said a jubilant Hunter. “I’m looking forward to trying to win again next year. I want to thank my daddy and my stepmom for being there.”
“It’s a honor to win and meet new people who also like to fish,” added the articulate young cat man. “I also want to thank Black’s Fish Camp and Santee Cooper Monster Cat Quest for putting on the tournament.”