Catfish Weekly’s Team RigRap Claims Chick Fight Victory
by Ron Presley
Making memories while making history.
Organizers of Chick Fight, the first all lady catfish tournament, chose Wheeler Lake in Alabama for the inaugural event. Wheeler Lake was a good choice because it is a bucket list destination for most catfish anglers because of the huge catfish it offers.
“Everyone wants to catch a fish of a lifetime,” said tournament organizer, Melinda Folsom. “Wheeler is a place where that’s possible just by putting bait in the water.”
Chick Fight was Folsom’s first tournament to direct. She used procedures and ideas taken from her own experiences as a tournament angler and molded them with others to create an event for the ladies of catfishing. She included many volunteers in the process, including naming Ann White as co-director.
With team names like Whisker Gitters, Whisker Sisters, and Catfish Queens you knew it was going to be fun. The tournament was quickly accepted by the catfish community as an event to support. In the end, 45 teams from 18 states and more than 45 companies and entities step up to the plate to offer their support.
The wheels were put in motion and the date of April 6, 2019 was scheduled to hold the event. Forty-five teams of all lady anglers, some accompanied by male boat drivers who could not assist in fishing, launched out of First Creek Boat Ramp at Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville Alabama. Anglers were required to quit fishing at 3:00 PM and be back to the weigh-in by 4:00 PM.
Top Ten Results
The lady anglers were faced with a tough bite but it did not seem to dampen their spirits. The words that most describe their experience include competition, learning, patience, challenging, and partner. All that responded indicated that they were ready to do it again.
At the end of the day it was Catfish Weekly’s Team RigRap that claimed the top honors. Nikki Ishcomer, Cindy Stokes and Hannah Ishcomer weighed in 97.92 pounds in two Fish to take first. They were anchor fishing with skipjack. Like most anglers, they reported a very tough bite.
The team remained patient through the tough bite and that patience proved to be the key. They had marked fish on sonar so they knew they were there. Showing extreme patience, they set on those fish until they decided to bite. They changed their bait about every 45 minutes until that first bite came sometime after noon.
“We just kept with it,” added Nikki. “It finally paid off and we got our first bite right around 12:40. That turned out to be our first fish as well. We continued to keep fresh bait out until we caught our second fish and it was ten minutes before quitting time at 3:00 pm.”
Cye Pierce and Rose Thompson wore their B’n’M jerseys to a second-place finish. They weighed in 74.41 pounds in two fish to claim their spot. They started the day off early and caught two nice fish while suspending baits. That turned out to be the only two fish they boated on the day.
“We thought we were off to a great start,” recalled Cye. “But then the bite quit until the afternoon. That afternoon we had another fish all the way to the boat, but it pulled the hook and we lost it.”
“We started our morning out with a bang,” confirmed Rose. “Then the bite slowed down. We had a couple more hits after lunch just couldn’t get em’ in the boat.”
The third-place spot went to Crystal Scott and Ashley Mooney. Fishing under the name “Team First Timers” They brought three cats to the scales that weighed 72.58 pounds. The team name was certainly appropriate since Crystal and her daughter, Ashley were fishing their first catfish tournament.
“We fished down river from Joe Wheeler State Park,” said Crystal. “We were fishing with cut bait. We had a wonderful time and are looking forward to the next time.”
Joelina Huffman and Kathryn Holloway McTaggart weighed in three fish at 69.06 pounds to claim the fourth-place spot. They called themselves Team Big Whiskers.
“We a great time,” said Kathryn. “Fishing was tough but that’s all part of fishing. I love the challenge. We are already looking forward to fishing the next one.”
“I was so thankful that an event was created for the ladies,” added Joelina.”I hope that this inspired more women who love the sport to participate. It was truly an honor playing a small part in an historical event. The sport of catfishing has grown so much in the past 10 years and hope that it continues to grow exponentially throughout the next 10 years. My dream is for catfishing to be as big as bass fishing one day.”
Rounding out the top five was Tyra Williams and Katie Walton. They brought two fish to the scales that weighed 63.68 pounds. One of those was the big fish of the tournament at 56.49 pounds. They fished under the name “Team OUTTA LINE.”
“It was nail-biting,” said Tyra. “We were the first boat to weigh in and had to wait and see where we ended up. We’ll plan on making the drive from Ohio next year to wherever Melinda and Ann decide Chick Fight 2020 is going to be held.”
Tammy Strouth and Nina Johnson took the sixth-place spot. Tammy and Nina did it with only one fish, but that fish weighed 53.78 pounds and was good enough for the second big fish of the tournament. They were fishing on the rope using shad for bait.
“I love it and if felt good getting back out there again,” commented Tammy. “I plan on coming back next year.”
Seventh place went to Jennifer and Cassidy Tholl. They weighed in three fish at 52.21 pounds to claim their spot. Cassidy added the smallest fish of the day to claim her individual honor.
“We were dragging,” said Jennifer. “The tournament was a great learning experience for me. It made me realize how much I rely on my partner for a lot of things, but I also realized how well I can do on my own.”
Joanna Reene and Amy Starnes finished in the eighth spot. Joanna and Amy fished under the name of “All Bobbers No Rods.” They brought two fish to the scales that weighed 45.44 pounds.
“We mostly anchored on fish during the tournament,” reported Joanna. The tournament was the first time I met my partner. We found that we fished the same style at home so we came up with a plan and it worked out for us. I think Chick Fight was wonderful. It felt AMAZING catching those fish and knowing that my partner and I did it all!”
A big old Wheeler Lake flathead helped Louise Lawson and Pat Dennis claim the ninth spot. They only had one fish, but their flathead was a 43.72 pounder. Louise and Pat never even knew each other until the captains meeting.
“We tied off some and anchored some,” reported Louise. “We caught the flathead on cut shad. I think Melinda did a great job putting it on. I had a lot of fun and hope to do it next time.”
Rounding out the top 10 was another mother/daughter team. Shannelle and Kaitlyn Kline from Indiana boated a 34.65-pound Wheeler blue cat to claim their spot.
“This weekend was an absolutely amazing experience for Kaitlyn and myself,” reported Shannelle. “We accomplished so many things for the first time. Chick Fight was a weekend that we are both so glad we decided to go out on a limb and give it a shot.”
This tournament gave women catfish anglers a platform to demonstrate their skills and enjoy the competition and camaraderie of tournament fishing. The excitement among lady catfishing anglers has grown because of Chick Fight and its impact on the sport will likely be felt for years to come.
“Forty-five teams of women came together to learn, love, and fish with each other,” said Ann White in a Facebook post following the event. “From the never-fished-before to seasoned tournament anglers…senior ladies to girls…we traveled to Alabama for an event of a lifetime. The smiles, the hugs, and the lifelong friendships made all the hard work worth the effort.”
“Catfishing is not just a sport for men anymore,” concluded Folsom. “I hope this event can reoccur every year and grow with each new year. Ann and I want to thank every company, person, and participant who contributed to the event. We plan for Chick Fight to be an annual event that will be moved around to different locations to make it regionally accessible to all lady anglers. I hope to announce the 2020 location and date soon!”