Millersburg fishing pair goes for big ones

catfish tournament fishing
Anthony Murphy, left, and fishing partner Mike Snyder are winning their way up in the national ranks in the world of catfish tournament fishing by catching giant blue cats like this one. (Submitted photo)

One might think that catfish are just too ugly to pursue, after all, they do come in several shades of ugly,  from plain repulsive to double dog repulsive.

But to a pair of fishing buddies from Millersburg, Ohio, a few whiskers are nothing to worry about. In fact, fish targeted and caught by this angling team might well be the on the short side of something you want to snuggle with, but when they are also grossly overweight, they are just what these guys eat, sleep and breathe for.

And why not, giant catfish, blues and flatheads for sure, can be worth a lot of prize money.

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Indeed, Anthony Murphy and Mike Snyder have become so enamored by big whiskered fish that they have been chasing them across the nation in what has become perhaps the fastest growing tournament trail of all.

Sure, there is plenty of hoopla about bass, walleye and crappie contests, but to be sure, here comes a whole bunch of trophy catfish tournaments.

This year, the pair will compete in a dozen or more organized catfish tournaments in several states. They’ve already been to Alabama’s Wheeler Lake twice with their two best fish bending the scales in excess of at 70 pounds and another just a bit shy of that.

Follow those monsters with several well over 40 pounds. Those giants got them an 11th place finish plus a third place for largest cat caught.

Not bad when you count some 60 other teams chasing catfish fame and fortune on the same day.

According to Snyder, some tournaments attract far more teams than that. It’s not unusual to face a roster of upward to 200 boats.

But numbers don’t mean a lot to this pair, just placing near the top does.

Last year, with 351 teams chasing overweight and whiskered trophies, the team of Murphy and Snyder placed fifth overall nationally.

Yes, Murphy and Snyder enjoy competing, but chasing big cats is more than that.

Most of us fishing for anything-that-bites would call it a passion.

“It’s the anticipation of the next bite and whether it might be the big one, the really big one”, said Murphy, adding that the challenge is figuring it all out.


Snyder said they like to spend a full three days of pre-fishing before each contest. That detailed preparation and practice is what wins tournaments they agreed.

Snyder said that developing a solid game plan, an overall strategy perhaps, works for them, but they also stay ready to make a change to a backup plan if things change — and they often do.

Just a couple weeks ago they found themselves pre-fishing in the crud of a severe storm. They fished right through it, catching what would have been a sure winner if it was during the upcoming one-day tournament.

And you can bet they headed right back to that spot when the real contest began.

Catfish tournaments have become big-time events with fame and fortune following the curve.

Murphy and Synder are already qualified for the national championship event to be held next November, and they are planning to go for the gold. Given their record of success, chances are good they will boat a whiskered winner.


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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.



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