Going for the big cats

Many will come but few will last the night. But it’s all in the name of fun.

The 11th annual Frontier FFA Catfish Tournament will be held this weekend, with registration beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday. Anglers will tough it out on the river near Bob’s Place in New Matamoras through the night and into the wee hours of Sunday morning, with weigh-in beginning at 7 a.m.

“We typically have about 100 people turn out – some will stay up all night but some don’t make it and fall asleep,” said Erwin Berry, agricultural sciences instructor at Frontier High School. “Catfish are more active at night so that’s the best time to fish for them.”

There are two divisions of catfish – channel and flathead – and the biggest weight in both categories will bring a pretty good bounty.

“The average size is about 30 to 40 pounds,” Berry said, adding that there are measures in place to make sure everything is done fairly. The fish also need to be caught alive and put back in the water alive.

A committee of interested FFA members and avid catfishers was formed around 2004 as a way to raise money. Recipients in the past have included the owner of a local bait shop who was fighting COPD and Kyle Hockenberry, a 2010 Frontier graduate who was injured in the line of duty in Afghanistan.

The entry fee is $10 and prizes are $150 for first place in both divisions, and a fishing combo for second.

Berry said the organization tries to publicize the event and can get participants from places as far as New Martinsville, Marietta, Parkersburg and Noble County.

Bob’s Place owner Bob Eckert, who is retired and has long been a supporter of Frontier Local Schools, offers his property along the Ohio River at 110 Front St. each year for anglers.

“I like to see the kids fish and hunt and just get out and enjoy the outdoors,” he said.

No children will be permitted to fish without an adult for safety reasons and the shore and river from dam to dam will be accessible.

Also, the fish will likely be biting for the season, which kicks off this weekend and runs through September or October, according to Eckert.

“A neighbor here just caught a 22-pound fish this weekend, so I think it’s going to be a good weekend,” he said.