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Brandon Key Catfish Tournament raises $42,000+

July 09, 2021 - 00:00
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    Devin Higginbotham (left) and Trevor Hill make up two members of Team Bubba Key. They won the tournament with five fish that weighed 83 pounds. CONTRIBUTED

Team Bubba Key won firstplace and a check for $3,000 in the 100 percent payback Brandon Key Catfishing Tournament on Lake Sinclair June 5-6. The 6th annual fundraiser netted $42,458 for 30-30 Ministries, a 501c3 non-profit organization youth ministry whose mission is to use hunting and fishing as a platform to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with youth 6-12 grade and their parents.

Team Bubba Key members include Jonathon West, Georgia West, Devin Higginbotham and Trevor Hill. They put together a fivefish stringer that weighed 83 pounds for the June 5-6 tournament.

“The fish were biting in huge numbers, but the big bite was tough to get,” said Jonathon West. “We never gave up on the spot we started in, and we probably threw back more than 100 fish. We fished with 30 floats and used mostly bream heads for bait.”

A record 63 catfishing teams took to the water at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 5 to chase a total purse of $12,600. Anglers were allowed 30 floats and six rods. The tournament paid back seven places and two big-fish pots.

Big fish for the tournament was a 33-lb. blue cat that ate a bream head and was caught by the team of Justin Cartrette, Cristan Cartrette and Denver Self. The three anglers split $2,000 for the big fish.

“This event is way more than a catfishing tournament,” said Mark Williams, 30-30 Ministries’ Board member. “We’re there to celebrate the life of Brandon Key, a former 30-30 camper who lost his life on Sept. 20, 2015 in a UTV accident. Brandon loved 30-30 Ministries, which is why his family and friends host this fund-raising tournament every summer.”

Before the tournament’s blast-off, the gathering of several hundred folks at Crooked Creek Marina enjoyed Christian music by duet Georgia West and Nolan Brown, praise band leaders at Centennial Baptist Church in Rutledge.

A personal testimony was given by Stacy Everett, a tournament fisherman who has fished a number of the Brandon Key events. Stacy’s daughter had recently been ill, and he’d seen God bring his daughter out of that illness.

“God told me I needed to share this with you,” Stacey told listeners.

Centennial Baptist Church Senior Pastor Terry Richardson shared the Gospel prior to the tournament.

“Jonathon is the one who came to us and asked if the Gospel could be shared before the tournament,” said Mark. “Of course we were all about that since that is what 30-30 Ministries does. This ministry uses hunting and fishing, but it’s not really about that. It’s about the message of Jesus getting to the ears and hearts of people. Anytime we have the opportunity for the Gospel to be shared, we’re going to do it.”

With hot coffee and biscuits the next morning, the celebration of Brandon’s life continued with plenty of fish, fellowship and some great prizes to give out.

“The level of prize giveaways at this tournament is mindblowing to me,” said Mark. “Jonathon starts working on this tournament every year on Feb. 1, and he’s non-stop chasing sponsorship money for the ministry and prizes for the anglers. For him to raise the type of funds he does and the level of prizes he gives is a full-time deal. We will never be able to repay him for what he’s done.”

Eight guns and a host of other prizes were raffled as prizes during the tournament. The most talked-about gun winner was Mary Hudson, who won an AR-style Diamondback DB15 in the 5.56 caliber. Forty-five teams who signed up two weeks prior to the tournament were put into a drawing for a 6.5 Creedmor. This added incentive paid off big for fisherman Joey Mullis.

A brief pause will occur before a number of Deer Camps kick off in the fall and winter. To keep in touch with what camps become available, youth must register for all hunt drawings at www.3030ministries.org.