Catfishing is the world's best pastime, and it has been turned on its ear in recent years. Catfish are literally the bottom feeders of sport fishing. Other species like Largemouth Bass and Crappie have enjoyed a lopsided venue of media and sponsorships, from fishing equipment, suppliers and manufacturers for many years. The coverage of catfish tournaments, and other related activities are like looking for a needle in a haystack. There are a growing amount of clubs and tournament series out there, but if you look real hard you can find them. Most of which are very small and very localized. There is a catfishing tournament series that was started in early summer of 2003 on the John H. Kerr Reservoir/Buggs Island Lake called, "The Catfish Showdown". This series was started by Warren Weston , John Moore and a dedicated group of fishermen with family and friends in a little place called Red Oak, Va. only couple minutes from the lake. Warren and John, along with the others, are avid catfishermen. They soon became concerned that the catfishermen were in need of something more stable than the events in the past.
The fishermen in the area enjoyed the larger tournaments that were offered, but they didn't focus enough on the needs of those who supported them. Warren and John were asked if they would be interested in giving the larger tournament series a try. They gave it some careful thought and accepted to give it a go. They looked at how the others were doing their's. They too, have fished those events with a lot of small events previously given by themselves and others over the years. There were a lot to look at, as far as what was needed, and how to put a positive force into bringing a quality catfish tournament series on the waters of such a great lake.
When the guys laid it on the line in June of 2003, Warren and John set a new standard for catfishing at the John H. Kerr Reservoir/Buggs Island Lake. Catch and release catfishing events are few and far between. One fish, the largest and the best of a night on the water was then established. These fish have to be kept in a suitable manner, to ensure their safe release back into the water. This helps protect the trophy sized fish we all have come to enjoy over the years and also for the future. Some other fisheries and clubs have come to see the importance of this practice, and for some bodies of water, it will be years before the damage can be undone.
The first event brought the fishermen back to the water with a new look towards tournament fishing on the John H. Kerr Reservoir/Buggs Island Lake. Not only did they get to fish a growing series, but is one that many had an intimate part in the planning and the support of. The night went well and everyone had a great time. Compliments and phone calls were received daily for a couple weeks. The first thing everyone wanted to know was "when is the next one?" This was somewhat of a surprise because half of the phone calls were from fishermen who didn't fish that event. There have been many more since the original Catfish Tournament, and not hardly a week goes by, that calls and emails about the Showdown arrive.
Many of the tournament regulars are the average fishermen out for a little fun and relaxation that could be done on a regular basis at a minimum cost. There are those who are game for those high entry fee events however, There's a lot of fun and bang for the buck with the large numbers that enter the tournaments. This is where most of the guys fit into, and those catfishermen who support us every time. It is a sight to see to be in the area a few days before a tournament. The guys come out the woodwork to pre-fish and prepare for that one 7 hour night of competition, and the chance of hanging that ever elusive hawg! Not to mention the growing amount of money and place prizes in the top ten. This brings serious dollars into the local economy because at most of our events, nearly 300 fishermen are in the area. They need fishing supplies, tackle, food, gas and lodging. At tournament night, the whole upper lake and both rivers are covered with fishermen for miles!
The Catfish Showdown also supports the Hunters For The Hungry Foundation. In 2004 and 2005, benefit tournaments were also held to raise money for the processing of donated Deer meat and equipment needs. They also invited the local Wylliesburg Lifesaving Station of Charlotte County for providing food and refreshments to the fishermen at the Showdown Tournaments. They are using the money raised to help start-up a new Rescue Squad service for lower Charlotte County and surrounding areas. This is a much needed service in the area and will surely save many lives in the future!
The Kid's Fishing Day is also hosted by The Catfish Showdown . In 2003, 85 kids came out be a part of the first annual event held at the Staunton View Day-use area on the lake. However, Hurricane Isabel hit on the original date with high water and storm damage locally that caused the tournament to move back a couple weeks. This hurt the turnout somewhat, but all those who came out on that beautiful day had a great time. In 2004 the numbers increased to 144, and on Sept.10, 2005 we filled the lake banks with 220 kids strong. There's always a large amount of support by the local businesses and the community for the Kids Fishing Day. The donations doubled from 2003 to 2004, and again for 2005. The kids get gift bags full of goodies, and all have a free lunch. There were numerous prizes given out during the day. All of which are free to boys and girls, age 13 and under. In 2005 there were well over 100 participating businesses and individuals who provided their generosity. It's an awesome sight to see how many kids and family members, having such a great time. The estimate of nearly 700 people were there to enjoy the day and what a great day it was.
It would be only right to thank all those responsible for taking the time to hold these events. The Showdown staff, volunteers, sponsors and the community are a tough act to follow. They have put a lot of time and effort into having these quality events. We look forward to what's in store for 2010 when "The Catfish Showdown" breaks out the new season schedule, new website and a new tournament trailer.