ATCHISON, Kan. (KSNT) — A pair of Kansas fishermen made waves over the weekend when they brought in 300 pounds of catfish during a tournament on the Missouri River.
Craig Norris of Meriden and Tyson Burnett of Council Grove took part in a catfish tournament organized by the PBSS Flathead Club that ran from July 30-31 in Atchison at Independence Park. Together, the anglers pulled in a total of 301.3 pounds of blue catfish and hooked a check for $3054.50 that came with their first-place prize which was based on the total weight of fish that were caught.
Additionally, Norris said that this tournament marked a new personal best for him after he landed an 87.3-pound catfish. His previous personal best was an 86.4-pounder that he caught during a fishing tournament in Alabama earlier this year.
Within 10 minutes of starting the tournament at 6 p.m. Norris hooked a “monster” with his Big Cat Fever rod. As the fish pulled drag, Burnett cleared up the lines and got the net ready for the catch. Ten minutes later, the “exhausting battle” ended when Norris landed the 87.3-pound catfish.
Norris and Burnett then moved a few miles down river to a spot they had luck at in the past and, within 10 minutes, at 6:50 p.m. Norris hooked another fish. This one put up another fight, and it took a while for the pair to finally land. Once they brought it aboard, they found that it was a 70-pound catfish.
The team then talked about strategy and where to go next as water temperatures were coming in at 80 degrees. They decided to make the hour-and-a-half trip back to the starting point to weigh in their catches. They put their lines back out as they got the boat ready for the return journey and, just as they were about to head back, Norris’ fever rod “doubled over.” A short while later, the fisherman landed a 27-pounder.
In total, they brought back 184.3-pounds of catfish. This served to push the fishermen to return to the water with the goal of breaking 200-pounds before the end of the tournament. Burnett and Norris set up shop at another favored spot and took the opportunity to get some sleep as day turned into night.
Both were woken up by the sound and vibrations coming from one of their rods which was doubled over and “drag screaming” at 2 a.m. The two men were able to land another larger catfish that came in at 63-pounds when it was weighed later.
Now with 247.3 pounds of catfish for the tournament, the fishermen joked that the only thing left to do was break 300 pounds. They would do so at 7 a.m. when Burnett hooked a 54-pound blue catfish that brought their grand total to 301.3 pounds.
“It just got to the point where I said, ‘I can’t believe this is happening,'” Norris said. “We got five bites and caught five fish.”
The anglers won the tournament 121 pounds ahead of the next fishing team. When asked what his feelings were following the end of the tournament, Norris said that he was in disbelief.
“It felt pretty good,” Norris said. “Really, I didn’t think we’d made it over 300. But when we did, we were pretty excited about it. That’s pretty big. I don’t know how to explain it, but I don’t think it’ll ever be beaten again.”
Norris went on to give some tips on how other anglers may find similar success in their own excursions on the water.
“Just spending time on the water can help,” Norris said. “You may not be catching anything, but you’re still learning. There’s days I go out there, I may not get a bite, but I’ll still learn something from it.”
Norris said that he and Burnett hope to take part in the St. Joseph catfish tournament in Missouri later this year where the grand prize is a 2022 Chevy 4×4 pickup. David Studebacker, an organizer for the event, said that this is the single largest catfish tournament in the nation and could draw in 200 teams. As of Aug. 3, the tournament has 141 teams registered.
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