With record waiting, Denison readies for 14th Annual Catfish Rodeo

Lynn Burkhead
For the Herald Democrat
This is one of several huge channel catfish awaiting anglers at tomorrow morning’s 14th Annual Denison Parks and Recreation Catfish Rodeo. More than 800-pounds of whiskerfish have been stocked in the last week and a few anglers might catch the channel cat of a lifetime!

The Bassmaster Classic may be grabbing all of the fishing headlines in Texomaland right now, but that might change on Saturday morning when the Denison Parks and Recreation Department hosts its 14th Annual Catfish Rodeo at the Waterloo Lake Park Pond.

Scheduled for 9-11:30 a.m., Denison Parks and Rec recreation manager Andrew Means said that this will be a whiskerfish derby for the books...quite literally.

"Between a private stocking last week and a stocking this week through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, there will be approximately 800 pounds of catfish in the pond," said Means. "Sizes of catfish stocked vary from 8-inches long all the way up to approximately 20 pounds in size."

Yup, you read that right, that's not a typo.

In fact, I was there last week when an absolutely unreal stocking effort took place as Means and I watched a big tanker truck deliver the piscatorial goods. There are probably two channel cats in excess of 15 pounds swimming in the Waterloo Lake Park Pond right now, two or three more over 10 pounds, and several in the 7- to 8-pound range.

Unfortunately, word is out and the catfish derby is so popular anyway that the advanced registration spots available for the event have already been taken.

"Once we reached 100 registered participants, we couldn't take any more registrations until Saturday morning," said Means. "Those who show up on Saturday morning can still register for the event, but they may have to start fishing in the big lake. As we get people who bring their fish to weigh in from the pond, then we can start sending those who registered on Saturday morning on up to the pond to take their place.

"There is also a possibility that pre-registered participants do not show up on Saturday morning, and if that happens, then the ones who register in-person on Saturday morning may be able to start their fishing experience in the pond on a first-come, first-serve basis."

Means says that there are also plenty of channel cats in Waterloo Lake itself and that any caught will be weighed and eligible for prizes. With several WLPP water body record candidates swimming around, expect plenty of smiles and shouts on Saturday morning. And maybe a busy time at the weigh-in scale, too.

In fact, it has been all that yours truly could do this week to not show up at the pond — which has been roped off all week and off limits to fishing — in an ill-fated effort to try and catch a new Texas state record channel cat on the fly rod. Or film a YouTube fishing episode showing off my catfish skills on a pond that isn't quite an acre in size.

Hopefully, the recent rainy weather doesn't make an appearance. But if it does, Means says that plans are for the derby to go on if at all possible.

"The event will take place rain or shine," he said. "If there is inclement weather, including lightning or heavy rainfall, the event may be pushed back on the same day and fishing times could be adjusted. If there is any inclement weather prior to the event starting, participants may check our Parks and Recreation Facebook page for any updates."

Means said that the annual summertime fishing contest is open to all age groups with the cost for adults (17+ years of age) being $7 for Denison city residents and $10 for non-residents. For youth 16 and under, the cost is $5 for Denison city residents and $7 for non-residents.

He also indicated that the first 30 registered participants will receive a free Catfish Rodeo cap, that there will be a variety of awards and door prizes given throughout the day, and a casting contest will be held along with food and drink being available.