Catfish anglers casting for title in 2-day tournament on Lake Wylie

jmarks@lakewyliepilot.comApril 30, 2013 

— Some of the biggest fish in Lake Wylie may be on their way out this weekend, as a two-day championship event concludes the Catawba Catfish Club season.

There have been 45 teams in competition for what so far is a $1,200 top spot payout in this year’s final points race. Second place will earn half that amount, and the season’s big fish earns $200.

The regional tournament series began in September with two events held on Wylie. Reelin’ the Blues took the top spot in points from Got Tha Blues at the last tournament on Lake Monticello and is now up by 17 points.

Jeff Manning and Michael Piaccoco of Reelin’ the Blues have two wins and two runner-up finishes the past four tournaments.

“We have definitely been on a hot streak,” said Manning, part of the 2010-11 series champion team with Wayne Lingerfelt. “With two firsts and two seconds, we just need to do what we do and we will be OK.”

Got Tha Blues has two wins and a second place this season. Through the first half of the season, team members Lindsay Bigham and Dean Birch outfished Manning and Piaccoco with an average finish of fifth, compared to 10th for Reelin’ the Blues.

“It’s so close between us and Jeff, and he’s such a good fisherman and it’s his home lake,” said Birch, a Chester resident and Lake Wateree expert who will rely on his Charlottean partner on Wylie. “We’re going in as underdogs, but we’re going to try to turn it and we may just win this thing.”

Past series champs George Lindsey, Damon Gibson, Mike Rape, Roger Rape and David Catoe all sit in the top seven points slots heading into the final. The last Wylie event went to the current fourth-place team of Terry and T.J. Springs, Professional Hookers.

Catawba Catfish Club events are open to everyone. For fans who may not be into the points race or event titles, this is a chance to see some of the biggest fish in Lake Wylie. While a 10- to 15-pound bag of five bass can win a tournament here, a top catfish team averages more than that per fish.

“We have had a average of around 20 pounds per fish weighed and have weighed in a 30-plus pound fish in four straight tournaments, and six of eight this year,” Manning said.

Sign-in begins at 4:30 a.m. Saturday, May 4, and Sunday, May 5, at Ebenezer Park in Rock Hill. The tournament runs 6 a.m.-2 p.m. both days, with the three-fish limit weigh-ins at 2:30 p.m.

Combined weight wins. Entry costs $30 per person with up to four anglers per boat allowed.

“As always, the Catawba Catfish Club tournaments are open to the public and all are invited to come out and participate,” said Marty Green, tournament organizer.

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