Champion woman wins Mr. Whiskers

MECCA – Second and third place finishers at the Mr. Whiskers Catfish Tournament at Mosquito Lake on Sunday caught undeveloped “mustaches” of catfish in comparison to the Grizzly Adams-esque “beard” caught by the winner. Coincidentally, the winner was one of the very few competitors unable to grow a personal beard.

Alicia McAllister, of Champion, brought in a 90.6 pound bag of catfish to win the $137.50 first-place jackpot. Greg Cadle and William Webster finished second and third, respectively, with weights of 52.2 pounds and 38.8 pounds. Cadle took home $82.50, while Webster pocketed $55.

Weather was a concern entering the night, as storms scattered the area – the tournament began at 7 p.m. Saturday and concluded at 7 a.m. on Sunday. Anglers who fished south of the causeway relayed that the rain and storms lasted almost the entire evening. McAllister, who fished the north end of the lake, discussed how the rain lasted only a short time and wasn’t severe enough to deter her and her brother, Travis, from fishing throughout the night.

“When we got here we waited out the first (storm) that came through,” said McAllister, who was using live bluegill as bait to entice the predatory nocturnal beasts. “We got out there at about 9:30 (and) just went out, parked, and didn’t move the whole night. We got the first one at about 10 o’clock and it was pretty steady throughout the night.”

She began fishing for catfish just four years ago and said she got “hooked on the fight” from day one.

“I fish here often, usually a few times a week, whenever I can,” she said. “This was the first time doing (the tournament) and it was really fun. It would have been better if the weather was a little nicer, but I’d definitely do it again.”

Overall numbers of participants were down from last year, which was likely due to the inclement weather. However, the prize money was still significant. The $275 distribution between the first, second, and third place finishers was just over half of the jackpot for biggest fish. Charlie Pitts, of Hubbard, reeled in a 57.8 pound flathead catfish to win the $500 big-fish prize.

Pitts also was fishing with live bluegill on the northern end of the lake. When asked how he caught the monstrous shovelhead, Pitts said simply with chuckle “luck.”

This was Pitts’ fifth time doing this tournament, but said most of his catfishing tournament experience is on the Ohio River.

“I love doing tournaments, all of them,” Pitts said. “This one is a good one. We always make sure we make this one. Just doing (the tournament) and fishing is the fun part.

Jerry Usselman, president of the Trumbull County Federation of Sportsman’s Clubs who hosted the tournament, was pleased with the turnout and the number of fish caught.

“Considering we had some really bad weather, I think we did fairly well,” Usselman said. “We’ve had better days and we’ve had worse days. But overall we had pretty good participation. We had about 91 people show up to fish and overall the number of fish that were brought in was decent and the number that were released was also very good.”

Usselman believes the tournament is beneficial to the entire community and is already making plans on how to improve when they host the Mr. Whiskers tournament next year.

“We had some people in from out of state, so that speaks a little bit for the lake itself and the reputation of the lake,” he said. “It helps with the overall economy. Arbitrarily, lets say there were 100 people out there, everybody puts money into the community somewhere whether it be in food, gas, lodging, etcetera. So overall I think it was a win-win for the entire community.”