CAT’S OUT OF THE BAG: Mississippi River Monsters reels in heavyweight catfish

Published 8:10 pm Saturday, August 5, 2023

The Bill Dance Mississippi River Monsters Mega Bucs Pro Series Catfish Tournament came to a close Saturday evening with spectacular catches and a crowd of more than 1,000 people at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

“Vicksburg has been a secret, but we’re about to let the cat out of the bag,” said “Duck Dynasty” star John Godwin. “There has been some big catfish coming through here.”

Godwin added that in addition to catching his personal-best blue catfish in Vicksburg on Friday — a 65-pounder — he also enjoyed dining in Vicksburg’s restaurants during the city’s Catfish Crawl. While he couldn’t nail down a favorite, Godwin said his “top three” were Rusty’s Riverfront Grill, the Beechwood and Walnut Hills.

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Professional fishing legend and TV star Bill Dance was also in attendance at Saturday’s tournament. Dance praised both the quality of catfish in the Mississippi River at Vicksburg and the hospitality of the City of Vicksburg and the VCC.

In a surprise announcement alongside Dance, Alderman Alex Monsour announced that the tournament had booked the VCC for a second year and would return in 2024.

“You have a tremendous fishing pad here. This river is absolutely full of catfish,” Dance said. “We averaged out at 33 and one-third pounds per catfish. That alone would win most tournaments, but not in Vicksburg.”

The tournament boasted a total of $120,000 in prizes, with a portion of the money being awarded to the fifth- through 10th-placing teams.

The top four teams had the option to split $90,000 amongst themselves, or go back out into the river and fish again for a $50,000 grand prize for the top team.

The teams decided to go big or go home and will fish to the death — fishing Sunday for the grand prize.

In first place as of Saturday night was Team Fountain, with a combined weight of 179.95 pounds.

Second place went to Team Indy, with a combined weight of 162.25 pounds. Third place went to Dodd & Poynor with a total weight of 154.05 pounds. Fourth place was Team Dropoff, with a total weight of 152.85 pounds.

The teams’ weights are set to zero. They will have lines in the water at 7:30 a.m. and will be out of the water by 3:30 p.m. The VCC will open its doors beginning at noon.