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Local knowledge key to success at Big Cat Quest catfish tournament

David and George Harrison with part of their winning catch.
David and George Harrison with part of their winning catch. Karen Presley

Rome, GA, August 30 -- Local anglers fared well in Saturdays Bass Pro Shops Big Cat Quest. Ken Freeman, event organizer described the Rome event as a grassroots series and part of the national tournament trail. “The thing about this tournament,” explained Freeman, “is that we provide a small town atmosphere where local anglers are able to participate in a National event and possibly qualify for a national championship. It also helps to get the towns involved in the bigger picture of promoting catfishing.”

“The locals have done well here, they usually do,” stated Freeman.

Indeed the locals did do well. The father/son team of George and David Harrison got close to the 100-pound mark. Teams can weight in up to 5 fish towards tournament honors. The Harrison’s bag of 5 fish came in at 94.73 pounds.

“No secret to the fishing today,” said David. “We had some good fresh bait and got into some good holes. We felt like early was going to be key and we were right. The good bite was early today.” David also won the Big Fish award with a 40.49-pound fish. “Actually the big fish got on about 6:20 this morning, so we had a really good start to our day. We only caught one fish after about 10:00, but we had some good fish in the boat by then.”

David’s technique is to anchor up and throw out cut bait on the bottom. “The river was low, but we still had enough current to anchor, which is my preferred way to fish. I want the water moving to get my scent trail downstream where the catfish are.”

The closest competitor to the Harrisons was a family affair. The father, mother, son team of Troy, Angie and Dylan Boatwright reeled in the 2nd place honors with a bag of 42.22 pounds.

Larry Muse, 2013 Big Cat Quest Angler of the Year, his dad Frank Meador, and visiting angler Ron Presley, joined Larry in the boat to help pull in the 3rd place honors. “I am tickled to death with 3rd place,” said Muse. “I knew the tournament was gong to be tough. I didn’t dream that 29 pounds would have us in 3rd.

There are a few lady anglers that fish the trail. Lady catfisher, Teresa Owneby didn’t place, agreeing with many other competitors. “Today was a tough fishing day. We had plenty of good bait,” said Teresa. “The fish just didn’t come our way. It was tough fishing, but still there was some good fish caught.”

With one more tournament remaining in the year, Muse is leading the 2014 Angler of the Year competition. He is going for a repeat. His closest competitor is John Raines. John is keeping the pressure on, as he and his partner finished in the 4th position with 24.36 pounds.

It is nothing short of a great story in the 5th place slot. Two disabled veterans teamed up to claim 5th place honors. Jon Lessman and Thomas Case, both retired military claimed the position with 24.25 pounds. “It is always good to have men like Jon and Thomas in the tournaments,” said Freeman.

Freeman went on to thank Lisa Smith, Executive Director of the Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau. “There is no better class act in the USA,” said Freeman. “From the largest city we visit to the smallest place we go, Rome is a first class act. It is a great place for anyone to stop in for a visit while traveling, or better yet make it a destination.”

He thanked the folks at Kroger, where the weigh in was staged outside in the parking lot. “I want to thank all the folks that came by the weigh in and awards, especially the folks from Kroger.”

He also thanked the Quality Inn - Rome for providing outstanding accommodation as the headquarters hotel. “The quality inn was great to stay at. We are happy, we are glad to be here, we look forward to coming back real soon.”

Georgia’s Rome definitely stepped up to the plate and delivered a home run in helping to promote the sport of catfishing to the local community.