Cabela's King Kat




2018 Tournament Results

Location:Pekin, IL - Illinois River

Luttrell and Espy win Cabela’s King Kat Tournament at Pekin, IL
(Although rare to the area, Big Kat honors were won with a blue catfish. )

Louisville, KY – June 17, 2018 – Catfish anglers from seven states traveled to the Illinois River for a Cabela’s King Kat Tournament Trail Event. Thirty-seven teams gathered at Pekin, IL to test their catfishing skills against other anglers and Mother Nature.

Most anglers suggested that the high-water conditions may have helped the bite in this, the first ever King Kat competition on the Illinois River. Competitors were vying for $9,300 in cash and prizes, and an opportunity to qualify for the $110,000 Classic Championship to be held September 14 and 15, 2018, on the Ohio River at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Extreme heat and high water challenged anglers at the Peking, IL event. The air temperatures were in the high 90’s with water temps at 80 degrees and the wind blowing at 10-15 mph. It had been raining a lot during the two weeks preceding the tournament. Those rains had pushed the water level to 4 feet above normal.

Results for the Top Teams

The team of Ken Luttrell from LaPlace, IL and Bryan Espy from Moroa, IL, claimed the brass ring at the first ever King Kat tourney on the Illinois River. They weighed in a bag of 41.10 pounds to earn bragging rights and $3,800.

Luttrell and Espy fished upriver about 20 miles in the Lakon area of the Illinois River where they reported the weather was hot but the fishing was good. They fished on the rope in very shallow water.

“We caught most of our fish in 6 to 12 inches of water,” reported Luttrell. “The fish were a little finicky today. They were partial to shad and creek chubs. We probably caught 35 to 40 fish for the day. The day was pretty uneventful as far as anything else was concerned. It was 96 degrees today but the fishing was good. The high water might have actually helped us.”

The second-place spot went to Mike Kuehl from Lyndon, IL and Catt Matt Jones from Prophetstown, IL. They teamed up to weigh 38.54 pounds and earn $1,800.

Kuehl and Jones fished north in the Peoria area finding fish in 15-20 feet of water. They reported that the fish were not holding on structure as expected.

“The fish were not in the various structures that are available in the area,” said Jones. “Often those pre-spawn fish will hold on structure in deep water and they weren’t. We were catching our fish on shaded banks. They were nice healthy fish and they were full of eggs. Those females that might normally be 4 ½ pounds were more like 6 ½ pounds.”

Jones describe the Illinois River as a good fishery.

“There are a lot of 10- to 15-pound channels in there,” offered Jones. “And there are bigger ones too. It really is a good fishery. We caught 16 to 20 fish, all off shaded areas. We were anchored up. We threw everything at them from Asian carp to bluegill but caught almost all our fish on shad.”

Vern Schielein from Banner, IL and Jeff Brown from Lewiston, IL nailed down the third spot. They brought 38.46 pounds to the scales to earn $1,400.00.

Schielein and Brown fished in the Peoria Lake section of the Illinois River. They also credited the high water for a good bite.

“The high water pushed the fish up shallow,” the team reported. “And the fish were hungry. We fished shallow water using shad and creek chubs to land more than 40 fish for the day.”

Fourth place went to Matthew McIntyre from Alton, IL and Tony Lane from Brighton, IL. The team weighed 38.08 pounds and earned $750.00.

McIntyre and Lane traveled about 30 miles south to the Havana area. They found their fish in deeper water where they anchored up.

“We found fish deep in 15-20 feet of water,” they reported. “We were fishing on ledges and structure using shad and mooneye for bait to catch about a dozen fish for the day.”

Rounding out the top five was Doug Rice and Dalton Brown. The team from Bluffs, IL teamed up to weigh 37.84 pounds to claim the fifth spot. Their bag included the Big Kat of the day at 12.90 pounds. They had total earnings of $1,240, which include $500 for fifth place and $740 for Big Kat.

Although not unheard of in the area, the Big Kat was a blue catfish and the only blue of the tournament. The rare occurrence added a little excitement to the team’s day.

They joined the fourth-place team, traveling south to the Havana area to fish. The team fished on the rope in deeper water where they caught 7 fish for the day.

“We struggle during this time of the year,” reported Rice. “Fishing is tough during the spawn. We found our fish in 15 feet and deeper water. We were anchored in the current using shad and creek chubs.”

“It wasn't nothing magical,” joked Rice. “We got lucky. We were fishing channel ledges with cut bait. Blues are in the river up there. They are just far and few between.”

The Remaining Top Teams

6th Place – Chris Baynes (Mankato, MN) – 35.74

7th Place – Pete Morehead and Mike Flaherty – 34.90

8th Place – Tim Walsh and Thomas Walsh Jr – 34.64

9th Place – Phillip Johnson and Tyler Sapp – 34.54

10th Place – Danny Sapp and Jerrery Sapp – 34.52


Tournament director, Jeremy Coe thanked Ray Dennison Chevrolet for being the main sponsor of the event and being a big help in everything this weekend. He thanked them as well for the use of a 2018 Chevy Duramax while the King Kat crew was in town.

Coe added a special thank you to the City of Pekin for hosting King Kat for their first visit to the city and the Illinois River.

"We are definitely excited,” stated Coe. “This is the first time King Kat has ever held a tournament on the Illinois River. We were very happy and fishing was good even in the heat and high water. We are excited to return next year where we are shooting for a 2-day super event."

National Sponsors

Cabela’s King Kat Tournament Trail sponsors include: Cabela's, Adventure Products EGO Nets, RigRap, B 'n' M Poles, Minn Kota, Mercury Marine, Mustad Hooks, Driftmaster Rodholders, Gamma Line, Humminbird Electronics, World Fishing Network (WFN), Rippin' Lips, Cat River Anchors, Sunsect Sunscreen & Insect Repellent, Humminbird Lakemaster Maps, Digital EFX Wraps, Tentology, Gill Rainwear, CatfishNow Digital Magazine, Whisker Wear Apparel, The Original Clearboard, Extreme Bait Systems and Katfish Clothing.


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