A titanic take of catfish earned two anglers the $15,000 first-place prize at Saturday’s Alton Catfish Classic at the Liberty Bank Alton Amphitheater.

Justin Neece of Odessa, Missouri, and John Jamison of Spring Hill, Kansas, placed first out of a 100-boat field with a total catch of 161.38 pounds. Trailing them were boats with 137.95 pounds, winner of the second-place $5,000 prize; and 129.5 pounds, winner of the third-place $3,000 prize. The day’s biggest fish, a 77.61-pound blue catfish, earned its boat $1,500. Competitors came from eight or nine states.

Mark McMurray, owner of Bluff City Outdoors in Alton, tells the Big Z the tournament, canceled last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, is one of the top five in the nation. Tournament berths sold out in January. 

Tournament personnel hoisted the fish into a holding tank and shuttled them in tubs for their release back into the Mississippi River. Most of them were blue catfish, with a handful of channel cat and flathead.

Donald Moore of Bowling Green, Missouri, says his team had a tough day on the water. They used shad, mooneye and Asian carp for bait, traveling 35 miles one direction on the Missouri River toward Washington, Mo. 

The tournament coincides with the Alton Expo, which ends Sunday, Sept. 12.

Video at https://youtu.be/WS_vg_2KSt8