On April 13, the Cabela’s King Kat Tournament Trail took place on the waters of the Ohio River at Henderson, Ky. Nearly 60 top anglers from 10 states competed for cash and prizes, and the opportunity to qualify for the 2013 Cabela’s King Kat Classic.
The 2013 Cabela’s King Kat Classic will be held this September at Kentucky Lake at Camden, Tenn.
In first place for $3,000 was the Mt. Vernon, Ind., team of Wayne and Jennifer King, with a weight of 108.42 pounds. Wayne and Jennifer were fishing 20 miles downriver from Henderson, anchored in 30-50 feet of water and using shad and skipjack for bait.
The team had traveled more than 400 miles days before the event to catch fresh skipjack. They caught only four fish for the day.
In second place was the well-known team of John Jamison of Spring Hill and Mark Thompson of Williamsburg, Kan., weighing in 99.78 pounds for $1,200. John and Mark were drifting and fishing the bottom in 30-35 feet of water just below the JT Meyers Dam, using skipjack for bait. They caught a total of 10 fish for the day.
Third place and $500 went to the popular Paragould, Ark., team of Daryl and Jason Masingale, with a total weight of 92.22 pounds. Daryl and Jason were fishing 20 miles downriver from Henderson, drifting skipjack in 20 feet of water.
The fish had been in 40-50 feet of water on practice days, but moved shallower where the team caught five fish for the day.
Scott and Brady Webb of Norris City, Ill., took fourth place with a weight of 61.46 pounds and earning $300. Scott and Brady were fishing below Shawnee Town, bumping skipjack on the bottom using controlled drift in 20-25 feet of water. The team had three of their fish by 8 a.m., but managed to catch only one more during the day.
Fifth place went to the team of Justin Hedges of Waddy and Adam Bentley of Mt. Eden, Ky., who weighed in only one fish – but this one was Big Fish of the event, weighing in at 61.04 pounds and earning $600. Justin and Adam caught the big fish 30 miles north of Henderson, using skipjack while drifting over 18 feet of water.
“High winds made it tough on the teams, but several good fish still made their debut at the scales,” said King Kat CEO Darrell Van Vactor. “Only 15 teams were able to weigh in fish due to the weather conditions.”
No likely changes in Indiana muskie fishing rules
Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has restricted anglers to keeping one muskie per year and has implemented a harvest tag system. Michigan’s muskie tag is free, but any angler who catches one must release the fish if the fisherman does not possess a harvest tag.
Will Indiana muskie anglers face similar changes? Not likely – at least for now.
Current rules allow Indiana-licensed anglers to take one muskie per day in the state. There are no limits in Indiana on the number of muskies an Indiana-licensed angler may take per year.
The only tags required here for harvest pertain to deer and turkey hunting, not fishing. “We understand why Michigan is cutting muskie harvest and requiring a muskie tag,” said Jed Pearson, an Indiana DNR fisheries biologist. “They are sending a message that muskies are scarce, and the tags provide biologists a good way to track long-term trends in harvest.”
Pearson, however, does not think muskie fishing in Indiana is being affected by anglers harvesting the fish. “Based on surveys conducted at several Indiana lakes, few anglers keep muskies,” he said. “They are at the top of the list for catch-and-release fishing.”
Michigan also imposes a much higher size limit on muskies than Indiana. A muskie must be 36 inches or larger to be taken in Indiana, whereas muskies taken in southern Michigan must be at least 42 inches. At some Michigan waters, muskies must be 50 inches long.
“At Lake Webster, our premier muskie lake, male muskies do not grow much after they reach 36 inches long,” said Pearson. “Female muskies grow faster, but few grow beyond 44 inches. It’s very rare to see a 50-incher.”
Increasing Indiana’s size limit, therefore, would not have much of an impact on muskie size because so few are taken at any size.
Michigan also differs from Indiana on when anglers may fish for muskies. Michigan imposes a closed season from March 16 until the last Saturday of April on waters in the Lower Peninsula. Indiana has no closed season on muskies; anglers may fish for them year-round.
“Closed seasons are often used to protect spawning fish. Our muskie program depends entirely on stocking, so a closed season in Indiana is not needed,” Pearson explained.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments for Jack Spaulding may contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to him in care of this publication.