By Larry Briscoe
Lake Tawakoni’s catfish tournament Saturday broke national records.
Over 75 top anglers from seven different states competed not only for cash and prizes, but the opportunity to qualify for the 2013 Cabela’s King Kat Classic. This year’s Cabela’s King Kat Classic will be held Sept. 26-28 on Kentucky Lake at Camden, Tenn.
The spectacular Lake Tawakoni results were recorded despite far less than optimum weather for fishing. Four-foot breakers reported on the lake.
That did nothing to diminish enthusiastic praise by Darrell Van Vactor, president of Cabela’s King Kat Tournaments, for Lake Tawakoni and its yield of multiple 60-pound-plus catfish.
“It’s a new five-fish record for anywhere in the United States,” Van Vactor said of the 239.80-pound total weighed in by brothers Dan Miles of Irving and Paul Miles of Lake Dallas.
Their five fish included a 61.40-pounder and an average fish weight of 47.96 pounds. Even at 61.40 pounds, their top fish took only third place in the Big Fish contest.
“This broke the record set by Dale Kerns and his son at Henderson, Ky., in 2011 when they weighed in 212 pounds with a five-fish limit,” Van Vactor said. That was an average of 42.4 pounds per fish.
The previous record was set in 2006-07, Van Vactor said, at Lake Pickwick, Ala. At that tournament, anglers fished two days with a seven-day limit each day. The record catch for both days was 14 fish weighing 504 pounds. That was an average weight of 36 pounds per fish. Saturday’s results at Lake Tawakoni beat that record by more than 10 pounds per fish.
Three Lake Tawakoni teams brought in a five-fish limit exceeding 200 pounds including the winners.
“Now that’s a load of catfish, I don’t care what body of water you’re on,” Van Vactor said.
The Miles brothers said they caught their biggest fish about 9:15 a.m.
“We caught fish all day,” Paul Miles said.
‘They never quit biting,” Dan added.
Lake Tawakoni is not new to the Miles brothers. Dan Miles holds the Lake Tawakoni record for Blue Cats. He set that record March 31, 2012, with his 82.35-pound fish.
“My dad got us fishing,” Paul said of their early start in the sport.
The brothers were awarded $2,500 for first place in the tournament.
When making the award presentations, Van Vactor joked with the winners when they were evasive about where they fished and in how deep of water.
“South of the bridge,” they answered. Van Vactor laughed and pressed for the depth of water.
“Deeper than 15 feet,” came the evasive answer.
Van Vactor said, “See what kind of job I have?” and asked what kind of bait they used.
He finally learned they used cut shad fishing the south end of the lake anchored in an area near the dam in 40 feet of water. The team caught so many fish, they lost count.
In second place was the Vian, Okla., team of Gary Brooks and Jeff Adams weighing in 236.04 pounds and earning $1,200. Gary and Jeff were fishing in the same area as the winners, anchored down using whole large shad in 40 feet of water to catch 35 fish for the day.
They said they were throwing 20-pounders back.
Third place went to Todd Lambert of Forney and Randy Miller of Kaufman with a total weight of 233.76 pounds, good for a $700 check. Todd and Randy were fishing in what seemed to be a very popular spot near the dam in 50 feet of water. They caught 25 fish for the day using cut shad and noted it was not their best day on Tawakoni. Their big fish weighed 55.38 pounds.
Tony M. Petree and Steve Nelson of Denison took fourth place with a weight of 188.3 pounds and earned $400. Tony and Steve also earned an additional $850 for catching the big fish of the event which weighed in at 67.84 pounds. The team was fishing in, you guessed it, an area near the dam in 30-45 feet of water to catch 15 to 20 fish for the day, culling back the 20-pounders by 9 a.m.
Fifth place went to John Allen of Mount Vernon and Matthew Allen of Barnsdall who weighed in 166.42 pounds and earned $200. John and Matthew drifted the south end of lake using cut shad in 40 feet of water to catch 40 fish for the day.
“These weights were really phenomenal considering the weather in the area with Saturday morning lows in the 20s with 10-20 mph winds and increasing throughout the day with four-footers on the south end of the lake,” Van Vactor said. “Even through all this, the King Kat records were broken by the day’s end. All records previously set by King Kat anglers were broken here today. Tawakoni truly is one of the best catfish lakes in America today, and these anglers have certainly proven this today.”
The tournament was headquartered at West Tawakoni City Park and was sponsored by the City of West Tawakoni, officially recognized by the State Legislature as the Catfish Capitol of Texas, and by the West Tawakoni Economic Development Corporation.
Steve Staggs served his popular barbecue sandwiches throughout the day. City employees and officials attended and worked the live release tanks and vehicles to return fish caught back into the lake including Mayor Calvin Travers, City Administrator Susan Roberts, Councilwoman Carol Solomon, Councilman Keith Goodson, Public Works Director EDC member Lamont Jenkins, Jeremy Caviness and William Howell.