Holmes Co. duo on the trail of monster catfish

Anthony Murphy and Mike Snyder
Anthony Murphy, left, and team partner Mike Snyder hold their best two blue cats as they are announced winners of the Monsters of the Ohio, a premier national catfish tournament. (Submitted photo)

Good things happen when you set goals, work hard and learn from your mistakes as well as from the successes of others with the same goals, the same work ethic and the same determination to be at the top of their game.

Want proof? Just visit with Kat-tagious team members Anthony Murphy and Mike Snyder, one of the best catfishing duos locally as well as nationally. Murphy and Snyder live in Holmes County but have no limit on effort. They are getting better and better when it comes to pursuing big catfish, the kind of big that wins tournaments.

Tournament winners

Want more proof? Try watching these guys hold a pair of giant blue cats for the camera as they accept the impressive first-place award at the latest Monsters of the Ohio catfish tournament held just a few months ago.

Considered by most serious whisker fish chasers to be the premier tournament in the country, Monsters of the Ohio is based out of Owensboro, Kentucky, and in only its 10th year, attracts the best of the best. The 2019 list of participants numbered 167 and included all of the biggest names in the whole mix of catfishing tournament trails.

According to Murphy, their one-day, winning five-fish limit included a 60-pound and a 40-pound fish, which landed them in the top spot and earned them a healthy payday. Murphy and Snyder also pocketed a healthy chunk of change when their 60-pounder placed second for big fish of the day derby. A 70-pound, obese blue cat won the big fish bonus.

Of course, winning a highly contested $10,000 national fishing contest prize might spell mission accomplished to some tourney anglers, but it’s just another milestone for Murphy and Snyder, a motivator to up their game even further.

“We have learned a lot in the last few years of tournament fishing, and we are putting all of those lessons to good use now,” Murphy said, explaining that patterning the fish, locating good structure, and marking spots that tend to attract contest winners rather than ah-so fish, all play a role.

All in the preparation

In fact, top anglers spend more time getting ready to fish than actually fishing on tourney day. The pair had so much confidence in their plan to do well at the Monsters of the Ohio contest that they spent most of the allotted tournament day time at full-speed getting to their pre-fishing hot spot and returning to the weigh-in at Owensboro.

The pair ran some 80 miles upstream, to and from, which gave them less than two hours to actually have bait in the water. It worked just like they planned, earning them a highly contested first place and a notch up in the catfishing world.

The current Ohio record for blue catfish is just shy of 100 pounds and was taken from the Ohio River in June 2009; it is a record that will be broken one day, just as all records are.

Murphy and Snyder’s 60-pound Monsters of the Ohio winning fish (from Kentucky water) was caught on a cut Skip Jack, a common big river baitfish. Gizzard shad are also popular baitfish. Murphy said that when the big cats feed, they are extremely aggressive and can — and do — attack large baitfish.

So what about the other end of the Monsters of the Ohio contest team scorecard? There was a prize for the skunked team that brought nothing to the scale. They were awarded the skunked team prize, which was a far better-than-nothing check and a decal, which, I expect, will never see the light of day.

The Monsters of the Ohio tourney takes place in October each year. Other national catfish tournament trails fill the calendar.

Just last week Snyder and Murphy began this year’s chase by traveling to Texas to compete against 200 teams but fell short of a payday finish.


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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.


  1. In 1969 a pair of divers were sent down to check why they were having problems at the intake pipes of the local drinking water plant. When they came immediately up they reported that catfish over 6 ‘ in lenght where swimming around the pipe openings, and refused to return to the lake. The lake is located in Weathersfield Twp. In Trumbull county it is a non fishing lake serving parts of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties in Ohio. I really wonder how large those fish can get in a protected area. Would like to see a contest on Lake Meander, to fine out.


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