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Illinois hunting and fishing

Jerry Cline II (left) and Mark Farrow won an unprecedented three Cabela’s King Kat Tournament Trail events. Chris Young/The State Journal-Register.

Kat kings “destroy the competition”

November 06, 2010 at 10:52 AM

The State Journal-Register

They say opposites attract, and apparently they attract catfish like crazy.

Somehow, the gregarious and outspoken Jerry Cline II of Springfield, who specializes in fishing for catfish on lakes, and the soft-spoken Mark Farrow of Meredosia, an expert in catching cats on the Illinois River, decided to team up this year for the first time.

The combination worked.

The pair won an unprecedented three Cabela’s King Kat Tournament Trail events from northern Illinois to Alabama and took home 2010 Cabela’s Anglers of the Year honors for a point total that was the highest ever.

“What these guys have done, I didn’t think I’d ever see it,” says Tanner Tabor, director of the Cabela’s King Kat Tournament Series. “They are outstanding fishermen. To do what they have done is quite an honor. They just destroyed the competition.”

Tabor says the King Kat trail is the largest catfish tournament trail in the United States, with 12-14 tournaments a year spread over nine states.

Because the top five scores are used, anglers have to compete in at least that many events to qualify for the title.

Tabor says the accomplishment is even greater considering how the sport has grown and competitors have improved.

“The level of competition in the catfish business has tripled,” he says. “Half the boats are in the hunt consistently.”

Cline and Farrow found themselves in the hunt almost every time out.

Their first tournament, in Sheffield, Ala., resulted in a ninth-place finish. After that, the season kicked into high gear.

They won a tournament at Henderson, Ky., on the Ohio River. Then they took first at a tournament on the Rock River at Dixon.

“We fooled around and won that one,” Farrow says.

“That was the first time a team ever won back-to-back tournaments,” Tabor says. “They were the first team to win two tournaments in one year.”

“Then,” Cline says, “we were knee-deep in it.”

The third win came on the road in Arkansas, where the team pursued big fish in unfamiliar water. Angling techniques had to be adjusted to match.

“When you go down south, you could be using bait the size of your shoe,” Cline says.

“They were thinking about skipping that tournament,” Tabor says. “They had no confidence in catching fish.”

Things didn’t start out promising, with a hole in the boat.
“We had the bilge pumps running just to keep from sinking,” Cline says with a laugh.

A fellow angler helped them fix the boat and got them back on the water. That’s when fortunes turned around.

“They were wishing they hadn’t even showed up, and lo and behold they boated a 50-pound fish at Pine Bluff,” Tabor says.

That sealed the team’s third win.

Couple those wins with a third place at Metropolis and the team tallied 490 points. The team fished a sixth tournament at Crystal City, Mo., and finished 16th.

No matter how good things are, there’s always room for improvement.

That’s why Farrow won’t let Cline forget a big fish that got off the hook at Metropolis.

“You know, if you had brought in that fish you hooked in Metropolis, we would have had four wins,” Farrow says with a smile.

Cline, who has been fishing catfish tournaments for about seven years, gives most of the credit to his partner, who has 20 years of experience.

“He understands what’s going on under the water better than anyone I know,” Cline says. “He thinks about a lot of stuff other guys don’t.”

“A lot of the big fish we caught — he caught them,” Farrow says of Cline. “He does OK in this own right. He’s a really good lake fisherman, and I fish rivers mostly.”

Cline says the challenge is adjusting to different conditions, different waterways and different-sized fish.

“It’s not like they have done it on Lake Springfield three times,” Tabor says.

With the exception of the hole in the boat at Pine Bluff, the season went by without major accidents or health issues.

“We’ve had a lot of support from our family and friends,” Cline says. “Even strangers have helped.”

Cline says a lot of anglers simply can’t afford to take the time to travel to tournaments, especially if work schedules conflict.

Expenses can mount up, too.

Cline says he and Farrow have been fortunate to have sponsor support from Jeremy Leach of Tangling with Catfish.

Next up is the national championship event to be held Nov. 12-13 in Columbus, Miss. There, Cline and Farrow likely will face up to 120 competitors.

Tabor likes their chances.

“They are well-rounded anglers, about as good as you can get,” he says.

“It will be hard to duplicate the year we’ve had,” Cline says.
Illinois hunting and fishing

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The Cabela?s King Kat Tournament draws the best Catfishermen in the country… and these guys proved their stuff!!

Great job guys!

And thanks Tanner and Cabela’s for putting together an outstanding event.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/10 at 07:49 AM

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