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John's Journal... Entry 146, Day 1


Chester Bumgardener's Winning Tactics

EDITOR'S NOTE: Chester Bumgardener, 52, from Huntingdon, Tennessee, has been fishing for cats for 45 years. He and his partner Ricky Crider won the 2002 King Cat/Boatel Tournament in May on the Tennessee River's Pickwick Lake on the Mississippi/Tennessee/Alabama border.

QUESTION: Tell me about fishing conditions today.
ANSWER: Well, it was tough early this morning. We tried fishing below the damn, but the current was just too bad because this area had so much rain. I didn't hear anybody say how much rain we had, but I know it was a lot.

QUESTION: Do you normally catch catfish below the dam?
ANSWER: Yes, but this time it was too rough, so we fished above the dam up in the lake.

QUESTION: What kinds of places were you looking for to fish?
ANSWER: We looked for drop-offs and ledges

QUESTION: Why did you think the cats would hold there?
ANSWER: Normally the cats like to lie around the drop-offs and edges, especially if there is a little current. And there was a current today. The current was pulling down the river, but there was still current coming through the dam.

QUESTION: How deep did you catch your catfish?
ANSWER: Well, we fished from 28-feet deep to 60-feet deep. We caught part of our fish in 52 to 53 feet of water and part of them in 32 feet of water.

QUESTION: Who caught the big fish?
ANSWER: My partner Ricky Crider caught the biggest fish.

QUESTION: How big was the other cat? Or did he catch both big cats?
ANSWER: Ricky caught both big cats.

QUESTION: What were you using for bait?
ANSWER: We used chicken livers and shad guts.

QUESTION: Were you anchored down on this place?
ANSWER: No. We tried anchoring for awhile, but it didn't work.

QUESTION: So how did you fish if you weren't anchored?
ANSWER: We just kind of had to go with the flow.

QUESTION: So you just drifted with the current?
ANSWER: Yes, we drifted with the current and bumped the bottom.

QUESTION: Tell me how you were rigged starting at the main line. What pound of test line did you use?
ANSWER: I used 20- and 30-pound-test line and a hook below the main line. I didn't use a barrel or swivel or anything -- just a straight hook.

QUESTION: What kind of lead did you have?
ANSWER: I used 1 1/2-ounce and 2-ounce sinkers on the bottom.

QUESTION: Were you fishing a double-hook rig?
ANSWER: No. I fished a single-hook rig.

QUESTION: Did you have any drop lines coming off?

QUESTION: What size hooks were you using?
ANSWER: I used 2/0 and 3/0 hooks.

QUESTION: Why were you only fishing single hooks instead of doubles?
ANSWER: I normally only fish with single hooks.

QUESTION: How many cats did you catch today?
ANSWER: We probably threw back 150 pounds, and we weighed in 112 pounds.

QUESTION: Out of 32 contestants, only 12 brought in weighing limits. What do you think made the difference in you both winning today and catching 50 pounds more than the closest contestant?
ANSWER: We found the right place to fish for cats.

QUESTION: Do you think everybody else was fishing downriver? Was anyone else fishing up in the lake?
ANSWER: Yes, other people fished up in the lake.

QUESTION: What made the place you and your partner fished special? Why were the fish there?
ANSWER: The current brought them in to where we were.

QUESTION: Was there anything particular about the spot you fished?
ANSWER: No. I just fished around hanging drop-offs. When I dropped my bait down, I would get hung up a lot on the stumps and brush in the area.

QUESTION: Were you fishing the stump rows or stumps on the edge of the main river channel?
ANSWER: I fished the structure on the main river.

QUESTION: How did you know the stumps where there? Did you use a depth finder?
ANSWER: Yes, we used a depth finder, but we didn't see many catfish because they were hiding.

QUESTION: Could you see the stumps on the depth finder?
ANSWER: Yes, we could see them.

QUESTION: Most catfishermen will fish around stumps, won't they?
ANSWER: Actually, most of them don't like to fish around stumps because they get their lines hung, and they lose a lot of cats.

QUESTION: How many times did you break your line off today?
ANSWER: I don't know. I used all my line off my reel. I probably hung up 30 times or more. It is kind of like crappie fishing. You have to fish in that gross stuff if you want to catch the big cats. And most catfishermen want to avoid that.

To learn more about fishing below the dam at Pickwick, contact the Hardin County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at info@tourhardincounty.org, call 731-925-8181 or 800-552-3866, or visit www.tourhardincounty.org. Pickwick Landing State Park offers fishing, boating, hiking, camping, swimming and golf. Lodging includes the lakeside inn with over 100 rooms, cabins that sleep eight and a campground that contains 48 sites with grill and electric/water hookup at each site. A restaurant at the park offers delicious southern cuisine. Call 731-689-3135 or 800-250-8615 to learn more.




Check back each day this week for more KING CAT TOURNAMENT ...

Day 1 - Chester Bumgardener's Winning Tactics
Day 2 - Ricky Crider's Big Fish
Day 3 - The Catfishing Couple
Day 4 - Phil King's Cat-Catching Tactics
Day 5 - Catch Cats Like King

John's Journal