The third year of the Alton Catfish Classic tournament ran Sept. 10 out of Alton, Illinois, located on the sprawling and catfish-filled Mississippi River. It’s located just north of St. Louis, and it was a fish-filled event with hundreds of anglers and spectators on hand.
The tournament winning team of Chris Stout, 48, of Jackson, Tennessee, and Hunter Jones, 36, of East Prairie, Missouri tallied a three-catfish limit weighing 147.46 pounds, anchored by a stout 65-pound blue catfish. The winning team pocketed $18,500 for their efforts.
“They’re buying dinner tonight,” tournament director Alex Nagy told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The winning anglers caught their big cat with a skipjack herring bait during a mid-morning fight south of St. Louis.
“We were fishing a good area,” Stout said. “And we were just fortunate.”
The anglers employ a hook-and-run-to-the-fish battle plan, rather than fighting a heavy cat against strong river current. When they barb a good one, they chase the fish with their boat, and use river current to help land it. But big catfish still fight hard no matter the fish-fighting plan.
“To have a 65-pound fish almost peeling your thumbprint off on the reel (spool), that’s exhilarating,” Stout told the Dispatch.
Stout is a Tennessee catfish guide, while Jones owns a power-washing business in Missouri.
Outstanding action from big catfish was had during the tournament, with 265 anglers on 105 teams weighing over 1,165 pounds of three-fish cat limits. Total weight of catfish weighed at the event was 2,162.87 pounds. All weighed fish were released back into the Mississippi.
The four top teams each weighed three-fish aggregate limit weights of blue catfish of more than 100 pounds, with weights of 147.46-, 130.82-, 128.07-and 101.66-pounds registered.
Competing catfish tournament teams hailed from Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Iowa, Kansas and Texas. They split total tournament prize money of $47,000.
The Alton area of the Mississippi is a well-known spot for giant catfish, especially blues.
In 2005 Tim Pruitt of Alton caught a 124-pounder from the Mississippi near his home, according to the Post-Dispatch. And in 2020, a man caught a 112-pound Mississippi River catfish near downtown St. Louis.