Mississippi River – Memphis
October 26, 2002 last tournament of the USCATS Pro Trail Tournament Series
October 27, 2002 USCATS World Cup Championship
October 30, 2002
by Willie Schrader
We pulled into Millington, Tennessee on Thursday night with the intent of having fun and fishing the World Cup Tournament in Memphis on Sunday. We only had one obstacle, the
way we looked at it, and that was catching big fish. We weren’t alone. I counted eight boats in the parking lot and it wasn’t even Friday. I got my visiting out of the way and was looking
forward to the next day on the Old Mississipp.
Friday morning brought rain and cold. Nothing new to us . Earlier this year, I thought that was the weather you had to have to fish a tournament. After a small delay in
getting our Tennessee fishing license, we grabbed a couple of bar-b-que sandwiches and it was off to find the boat ramp. Once we found it, we were on our way.
Let me tell you a little bit about the Mississippi River at Memphis. It is big. It is wider and deeper than up north. I thought the river at Quincy, Illinois was big, but
this had it all. I told Vinny that now we are here all we have to do is find fish. He agreed and the search was on.
We threw everything at them from worms to Wild Willie’s Whompum bait. We caught fish but no size to them. Vinny was a bit concerned but like I always say “where there are
little ones there will be big ones”. We did agree that fresh shad was going to be the bait.
The highlight of Fridays pre-fish was the chance meeting of James Patterson and Bill Dance. James is a catfish guide on the Mississippi and Bill as you know is quite the
fisherman. Heck, I thought it was Clifton Crutcher from Tennessee at first, but when they got close I recognized James. I had seen pictures and heard about him. We had a nice short visit and James
told us where he thought we could find some shad. Bill didn’t say much but we did find a few shad. They were going to be fishing Saturdays tournament and we knew they would be hard to beat.
Saturday went off without a hitch. Thirty boats all wanting to do the same thing - and that was to win. We sat on our first hole and had no luck. We learned from the
tournament at Jefferson City Missouri that a spot might look good but don’t get too attached to it. No fish, so we were on the move. Next hole, no good bites. Next hole nothing to brag about. I
studied the map and we were on the move again. I told Vinny if I don’t put us on fish here then you can pick the next spot.
Boom, we are on fish. I had two in the boat and knew we had found them. They were channel cats and we knew that if we were going to be in contention we would need to find
blues. Vince made a suggestion and we moved. Boom, 20 pounder and it was a blue. Vinny had his first big fish in the boat. We caught 17 fish out of that hole, culled out ten of the bigger ones and
weighed in 51 pounds. Good enough for 7th place.
The weigh-in was great, we drove our rigs to the scale and the people of Memphis showed up to watch us weigh our fish. All of the fish went into a huge portable aquarium for
display over the weekend at Mud Island. Dave Coughlin and Carey Ricketts from Tennessee weighed in 110 pounds to win it and James and Bill won big fish with a 38 pound bluecat.
Sunday was the day of the USCATS World Cup Championship, sponsored by BASS Pro and memorializing Benny Sanders. Sixteen boats made the trip and we were boat eleven. We went
back to the area from the day before. We were 2 hours into the tournament and we hadn’t had a bite. Time to move, but to where? We went to deeper water and got bites but not good ones. We were
struggling and with a 1 o’clock weigh-in, which is 3 hours earlier that we are use to, we needed fish. Finally, we located and boated five fish and we were done. No big ones but we had weight. We
came in ninth for the day with 10.5 pounds of fish and were happy. Clifton Crutcher and Rodney Dunham from Tennessee had 68 pounds and won the World Cup.
There were many good catman out there fishing both days. Lindsey Sample, from Missouri, the Illinois record bluecat holder was there. Darrell Carter, from South Dakota, the
USCATS Pro Trail point leader was there. James Patterson and Bill Dance were there. Flathead record holder R.R. “Cat Daddy “ Shumway out of Kansas was there. Champion catman Phil King, of
Mississippi, was there and the list goes on. The experience of fishing these big tournaments against some of the top catman around is one I will always remember. I heard once, that many times it is
better to be lucky than good. Well, I guess I just got lucky.
Don’t let your knot slip, Willie
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