167 fishermen took to the Ohio River on Saturday for the 10th annual Monsters on the Ohio fishing tournament.

This was, as it has been in years past, a successful year for what has become a nationally recognized catfishing tournament that brings people from all over the United States into Owensboro said Aaron Wheatley, tournament creator.

"This year we are giving away almost $50,000 in cash and prizes," he said. "Last year our big fish came in around 50 pounds, and I know that this year will top that. The better the river gets, the better the regulations get and the bigger this tournament will continue to grow."

Misti Higginbotham was among the 167 fishermen setting out at 6:30 a.m. from the ramp at English Park. This is Higginbotham and her father's third year. The daughter-and-father duo are no strangers to the tournament or the big haul, she said.

"I enjoy it," she said. "I get to spend time with my dad. First year I did it we got second place. We had 101 total pounds with a 42-pound catfish. Last year we didn't do worth a darn. We did good this year, but we didn't get any big ones."

While Higginbotham's 57.8 pound catfish haul was nothing to scoff at, Mike Snyder and Andy Murphy from Millersburg, Ohio, more than doubled that with a total weight of 129.1 pounds with their five fish, winning the day. Their largest catfish weighed in at roughly 60.8 pounds. Their term as masters of the Big Fish category was short-lived, however, as Memphis, Tennessee native Alan Houston weighed in a whopping 70.7-pound catfish, taking the title of Big Fish.

"This is my fifth year," Houston said. "I've never gotten the big fish. I've had a couple of forty pounders, but this is the biggest fish I've caught here. Usually this is the worst weekend for fishing everytime we come up here, there is a cold front that hits. But like I told everybody, this was not a big cold front, it was just a cold snap. To me it made the bigger ones bite better. You may not catch as many, but you will definitely catch a big one."

There was no great trade secret, honey hole or special bait to his approach, he just loves to fish, he said.

"I used Skipjack for bait," he said. "I've heard of the Kool-Aid chicken, and I've seen people do good with it. I'm a Skipjack user, I'm not going to do much with no Kool-Aid chicken. There are some good fisherman out there. I don't get happy until the end. I fish every weekend, and I just love it. If there wasn't a tournament here this weekend, I would be fishing in Memphis in my home water. Tomorrow when I get home, I'm going fishing."

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com

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