- Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 10:52
- Published on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 09:51
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Saturday, March 15, 2014, I was able to enter The Big Cat Quest in Richmond, Virginia. I got down to Richmond the night before and stayed at my father’s friend’s house. We had to go out and catch bait that night so we would have fresh bait in the morning. We ran out a gill net to catch shad, waited about 15 minutes to pull the net, and did this several times until we had enough bait for our crew.
We woke about 4:00 AM to be on the water at 5:30, because the tournament started at 6:00. We put the boat in about 5:30. The weather was decent, but it was a little cold outside so we were layered. I sure was thankful for my Frog Toggs! It was still dark and a little windy, but the water was flat. It took us about 15 minutes to get out to our spot after a pretty boring ride, as there was nothing to see in the dark except the power plant. Once we arrived at our spot, we all prepared our rods, baiting them with the slimy dripping shad. We heaved our baits out and waited on a bite.
We did not catch anything until around 8:00 AM. At 8:00 AM, a monster hit my rod; the rod bent down as if it were going to break in two. I grabbed it and jammed it into my gut. The battle lasted about 20 minutes. When we got the fish to the boat, it did not want to come over the side, so we pulled it out with a net. It was a really huge fish as we suspected. We drove to the tent where you weigh the fish in each hour. After the scale stopped moving, I was shocked to see it weighed over 50 pounds! I did not know it was that big of a fish.
I got to sit in the winner’s circle for 20 minutes; I took first place in the hourly weigh-in! Then we got back on the boat and went out to fish some more. An hour later, Hunter hooked ANOTHER big fish. This fish was a first for my 12-year-old friend. His fish weighed 38 pounds, but he was not able to win for his hourly competition; another fish won.
After being a bit disappointed, we went back out. Fifteen minutes later, I hooked another fish as I grabbed the rod, and this one was even stronger. It was pulling me around, and I for sure thought it was going to be bigger than my last fish. We, once again, pulled it out and over the boat with a net. This fish dragged the scales down to 48 pounds, winning me another first place in the hourly contest!
At the end of the day, all monies were awarded. I was called up to collect my winnings, and the promoter/announcer, Ken Freeman, had given me the nickname “Anchorman” because I had done so well in the tournament; even better than most of the adults. I won $800 for both of my first-place hourly wins, and then I won second and third in the Kids’ Tournament. When I counted my winnings, I had won $1,025. This was an awesome trip, and I look forward to fishing the tournament again next year!
—Darin Hughes, Jr.
Note: Darin Hughes is a student at King George Middle School. He and his family love the outdoors, and they often go fishing. Darin is also an excellent athlete. I am sure you enjoyed his fish tale! I sure wish I could get paid like that to fish! Nice job, Darin!