Catfish Profiles in Passion – Teresa Owenby
by Ron Presley
From girly girl to tournament time
Teresa Owenby was a self-described girly girl in her formative years. That means simply that she dressed and behaved in a traditional feminine style using make-up, wearing dresses and blouses, and living the traditional gender role of a female. Then came marriage, a husband, and a family of three boys.
“My love for fishing started several years ago,” explains Teresa. “I was a girly girl growing up, but marriage added three boys to the family. Tim and I wanted to bring them up hunting and fishing.”
Every fishing trip that the family went on added memories to an outdoors existence that they continue to cherish each day. As time went on, and the fishing trips continued to grow in number, Tim talked Teresa into fishing a catfish tournament.
“We hooked not one but two, 25-pound blue cats that evening,” recalled Teresa. “It was the biggest adrenaline rush I have ever felt. I never knew catfish could get that big. I was hooked and my passion was born.”
“It was my husband, Tim, who inspired me to fish,” continued Teresa. “The more I learned while fishing with him the more excited I got. He had patience with me and it really helped me enjoy our times out on the water. All those experiences created a ‘Catbuster,’ (me) who loves to chase monster fish.”
“The name Catbusters came when we first started fishing the Hilljacks on the Chattahoochie River,” explained Teresa. “We were trying to think of a good team name. We took the Ghostbusters symbol and put a catfish in there and called it Catbusters. The name became the Owenby catfishing team name and Teresa became more and more enthusiastic about tournament preparation and participation.
“My specialty is preparing for the tournaments,” offered Teresa. “I like catching bait. Some people may think it’s work but I really enjoy it.”
“We began fishing local tournaments and continue to do so. Our home water is the Chattahoochee River in east Alabama. Each tournament is an opportunity to learn and grow in the tournament world. After gaining experience on the local trails we now travel and fish other tournaments. I hope my future includes fishing as many tournaments as we can. We really enjoy it. Win or lose, we will always be chasing the big one!”
The Catbusters team has fished the Mississippi River Monsters tournament out of Memphis, TN where they claimed big cat honors in 2016. They have fished a couple of Winter Blues tournaments, some Tennessee River tournaments and a few Chattahoochee Hilljack Tournaments. They have also fished two SeaArk Tournaments.
“In one of the SeaArk tournaments our youngest son Hunter caught a 60-pound blue cat,” recalled Teresa. “Oooooh, that was a fun day!”
“I look forward to fishing new waters,” acknowledged Teresa. “Tournaments allow us to compete and put our skills to the test. We don’t always place, but we try to learn something new every trip and that’s a win to me. By traveling we also have the opportunity to fish waters that hold bigger fish and try different techniques.”
Teresa has enjoyed a lot of success in the world of catfishing, but her most precious memory is fishing a tournament with her dad, Russell Richards.
“My best day ever was when my dad caught a 72-pound blue during the Mississippi River Monsters tournament,” recalled Teresa. “We were anchor locked and drifting bait back on current seams. Dad’s pole got a few small taps. Then down it went. I saw his pole bend to the water.”
“He went to reeling,” continued Teresa. “Then I said, ‘oh dad, you have a monster.’ About that time the fish came up and rolled. Seeing him reel that big fish in was awesome. He was so excited. I get very enthusiastic when we bring in big fish but the excitement my dad showed that day, and still shows today, is priceless. It is a memory that I will have forever.”
Teresa says she learned an important conservation lesson that day. After being placed in the livewell the big fish began to struggle. It did not appear to be doing well and she is a big proponent of proper fish handling and care of trophy fish.
“We have a large livewell,” explained Teresa. “But we had a big fish that was struggling to live. We didn’t expect to have any issues, but we learned that for traveling long distances we needed a water recirculating system. Because of what we learned that day we have one now. But the bottom line is that the big girl did survive.”
Beyond what anglers can do with respect to conservation, Teresa believes that states have a role to play in protecting trophy catfish and their actions are a mixed bag at the present. Some states are aggressive in protecting catfish populations while others do very little.
“If all states would regulate the fish being taken I feel the sport of catfishing would grow to an even bigger level,” states Teresa. “I really wish we had regulations across states everywhere. It takes many years for fish to grow into the monster fish that we all enjoy catching. It is up to states individually and in partnerships to protect the trophy cats.”
Teresa also has a special affection for fishing with kids. She does it for her own enjoyment as well as for making anglers out of them. She has a few tips for making fishing trips with kids successful.
“I fish with kids often,” offered Teresa. “It’s fun to watch their excitement. Some are eager to hold them and some not so much, but they are equally proud of their catch. It’s very important to be patient with them and brag on how good they are doing. Don’t press too hard and burn them out, especially if the fish are not biting. They just need to have a good time. I enjoy it when kids show an interest in fishing. Having fun, making memories, and creating future fishermen/fisherwomen is what fishing with kids is all about.”
Family comes first in Teresa’s list of priorities. Her passion for fishing runs a close second to her passion for being a great mom and that’s the way she wants it.
“I would really like to be remembered as a great mom, wife, fisherwoman, and for helping others when I can,” offered Teresa. “Like fishing tips for example. I don’t mind giving friends fishing tips. It is a reciprocal thing. I get a lot from my friends that help me along the way. I hope I am remembered for keeping a good attitude and being a great sport to fish with or against. I feel laughter and fishing go hand in hand. If you laugh and have fun it makes for a great day even when the fish don’t bite.”
“Tim knows that he created a fishing monster,” joked Teresa. “But he loves me anyway. I would like to thank him for being the fishermen that he is and for introducing me to the sport. I have been addicted ever since the first rod went down and I will continue as long as my hands can hold a fishing pole.”