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Twin Brothers Net the Biggest Payday in Catfish Tournament History

The Fountain brothers took home a record $50,000 for winning a catfish tournament on the Mississippi River
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Lonnie and Donnie (from left to right) Fountain hold up one of the blue cats that helped them brothers secure a first-place finish. via Facebook

A fishing tournament that took place in Vicksburg, Mississippi over the weekend has officially raised the bar for payouts on the competitive catfishing circuit. Twin brothers Donnie and Lonnie Fountain took first place in the Bill Dance Mississippi River Monsters Mega Bucs Pro Series catfish tournament and won $50,000. This represents the biggest payday in catfish tournament history, according to tournament organizers.

The Fountain brothers, who live in Jasper, Georgia, brought the heaviest bag of three catfish to the final weigh-in on Sunday. It weighed 146.5 pounds and included their biggest blue cat, which weighed just over 58 pounds and was caught during the final minutes of the tournament.

“It wasn’t about the money when we decided to fish this weekend, but this needed to be done,” Donnie told the Vicksburg Post on Saturday. “This $50,000 payout sets a new standard for the catfish world.”

Fishing from a 24-foot Mossy Cat complete with electronics and a 300-horse outboard, the Fountain brothers went up against a field of 60 other teams. They caught all their fish from one half-mile stretch of river that was roughly 75 feet deep.

“We found the area a week before the tournament scouting for good spots. We caught a 96-pound catfish during our practice fishing there, and we decided to work that area for the entire tournament,” Donnie tells Outdoor Life. “The area was just a good current seam in the river, and we kept drifting through it using only one rod and line each.”  

The strategy turned out to be a good one, and they found big cats on both days of the two-day tournament. They used cut skipjack herring baited on 12/0 circle hooks, and added eight ounces of weight to keep their baits on the river bottom. Their reels were spooled with 80-pound braid tipped with 80-pound monofilament leaders.

“We had three cats on Saturday weighing 179.95-pounds, including a 65-pounder,” Donnie says.

This put them among the four teams that competed for the top spot on Sunday.

“We pulled it out thanks to my brother,” Donnie continues. “He caught a heavy 58.3-pound fish just four minutes before we had to run in to weigh our fish.”

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The second-place team’s bag weighed 140 pounds, or roughly six pounds lighter than the Fountain brothers’ winning bag. That team took home $20,000 in winnings, while the third-place team earned a respectable $15,000. When asked what they’ll do with their winnings, Donnie didn’t hesitate.

“We split the money 50-50. And all of it is going back into our fishing—paying for tackle, gear, and other tournament expenses.”