Courtesy of the Lake Fork Sportsman's Association
The Third Annual Yantis Catfish Classic at Lake Fork concluded on Sunday with big channel cats completely dominating the two-day event. The top prize and $6400 was awarded to Roger Stroman of Emory, Texas for a 10.10 pound cat caught during the final two hours of the tournament. Earnest Harrison of Quitman took second place and $3400 with a 9.90 pounder caught only 10 minutes after the tournament resumed on Sunday. The 9.70 pound cat caught on Saturday by Tommy Cortez of Bartlett took third for $1400. Greg Strong (Anna) and Josh Busby (Alba) tied for fourth, each with 9.20 pounders worth $750. Rounding out the top seven were Sam Morris (Temple) with an 8.25 and Stacy Scott (Lindale) with an 8.10 pounder.
The most active hourly winner was Paul Miles (Lake Dallas) with 4 fish in the money.
Tommy Cortez, Earnest Harrison, and Roger Stroman each had 3. The events top youth angler was Jonathon Chastain of Ft. Payne, AL with a 7.95 pound monster. Greta Faust of Splendora, TX took the top ladies honor with her 6.55 pound cat and Earnest Harrison topped the Senior Division.
The Yantis Catfish Classic was presented by the Lake Fork Sportsman’s Association and Ken Freeman Outdoor Promotions, and it was hosted by the Minnow Bucket Marina. Anglers competed individually for big fish with four hourly cash prizes and a bonus jackpot paid to the those catching the top seven fish overall. The total payout for all hourly and tournament top finishers was $26,000. A total of 356 catfish anglers participated.
The Tournament was closely linked with the City of Yantis and their seventh annual Catfish Day Festival. Activities in Yantis included a Catfish Day parade on Saturday afternoon following the tournament weigh-in. The Parade Marshal, Ken Freeman, led the procession through down-town Yantis along with Yantis Mayor Jerry Miller. The Yantis City Council followed aboard the Lake Fork Sportsman’s Association Live Release Boat. Numerous local businesses and civic groups as well as anglers from the BPS Big Cat Quest Tour participated in the parade with their state-of-the-art cat-fishing craft and tow vehicles. At the conclusion of the parade, the tournament anglers and other area residents were treated to the annual fish fry prepared by the Yantis Volunteer Fire Department.
The Yantis Catfish Classic was open to all anglers, but it is also a part of the Bass Pro Shops Big Cat Quest Tournament Trail. The next stop on the Trail is at Santee Cooper Reservoir in South Carolina on August 13. After one additional Tournament at Alabama’s Joe Wheeler State Park, the Trail concludes with its national championship on the Mississippi River in Memphis, TN on September 16-18. The Big Cat Quest’s major sponsors are Bass Pro Shops, Toyota Trucks, and Coca-Cola. More on the Big Cat Quest can be found at the Ken Freeman Promotions web site.
The Lake Fork Sportsman’s Association is a non-profit organization that was formed in 1999 to promote and help conserve Lake Fork as a world-class fishery. Its members are mainly lake-area homeowners, businesses, and guides, but it also has numerous members who provide financial and service support from outside the immediate area. More information on the Association and its mission can be found on its web-site, www.lakeforksa.com.
The Catfish Classic’s major underwriters were the Bass Pro Shops, the Wood County Industrial Commission, and the City of Yantis. Other major contributors included the Greater Quitman Area Chamber of Commerce, the Sulphur Springs Department of Tourism, Lewis King Bait Company, Oak Ridge Marina, Loomis Lodge & Guide Service, and Stan Kuhn’s Lake Fork Catfish Guide Service. KMOO 99.9 FM served as the official radio station for the event.The 2012 event is tentatively scheduled for the last full weekend in July.