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Annual Icebowl serves up beastly cat
SoVaNow.com / February 01, 2017
Anglers at the 2017 Icebowl blue cat fishing tournament on Saturday were abuzz as word spread that one of the participants may have broken the record for the largest blue catfish caught in Buggs Island Lake.
The day-long fishing contest takes place each year at Occoneechee State Park in Clarksville, regardless of the weather.
While Dale Lowe and teammate Stephen Faircloth of Bedford shattered the previous mark for the largest blue cat caught during the annual Icebowl tournament, at 141 pounds, their trophy fish fell short of the world record by two pounds.
Unofficially — the weight recorded at the tournament site — the cat was 141.76 pounds. But for official purposes, the weight recorded at Bobcat’s Bait & Tackle in Clarksville was 141 pounds.
In 2011, visiting Buggs Island Lake angler Nick Anderson of Greenville, N.C. set the Virginia state and world record for the largest blue catfish catch, a beast that weighed in at 143 pounds and had a 47-inch girth. Unfortunately, that fish died. This time, however, Lowe was able to return his fish to the lake and watch it swim away. It is now the largest blue catfish caught, certified and released back into the same waters.
Both Lowe’s and Anderson’s fish were hooked on the Virginia side of Buggs Island Lake.
For their efforts, Lowe and Faircloth took tournament top honors, which carried a prize of $3,120. Second place went to Landon and Samantha Williams and their 56.66-pound blue cat and Wesley Harding and Zack Poaerfield took third place with a fish weighing 52.34 pounds. The Williams received $1,200 in prize money and team Harding-Poaerfield earned $780.
Lowe’s haul was not enough to secure a victory for Team Virginia at this, the ninth annual Icebowl. This year, anglers from North Carolina posted the highest total weight and earned the right to keep the Icebowl trophy — a wooden plaque that bears the official logo with the name of the winning state mounted on it.
The Icebowl is an open tournament that pits anglers from Virginia and North Carolina against each other for bragging rights. It’s open to anyone, regardless of skill level. North Carolina angler Chris Bullock began the Icebowl — officially known as the North Carolina & Virginia Annual Winter Catfish Championship — nine years ago. For years, his bass club in Pitt County, N.C. held a “bragging rights” competition. He thought it’d be fun to bring the same type of competition to Buggs Island Lake. Instead of a club versus club event, Bullock decided it would be more fun to hold a state vs. state competition, and since it would take place in the winter, the idea was to fish for catfish instead of bass.
Word about the competition quickly spread and soon there were some 50 boats signed up to compete, according to Bullock. This year 150 boats, each with teams of at least two members, participated in the tournament — a new record, according to tournament organizer Michael Lawrence.
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