FISHING: Local angler hosting big catfish tourney

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By Peter W. Zubaty, Sports Editor

A Bardstown man is making a big name for himself in the fishing world, and he’s hoping to introduce others to his love of catfish angling with a tournament event this weekend.

Steve Douglas and his brand, Captain Mad Jack’s, is putting on a “Catfish Clash” tournament on Taylorsville Lake starting this evening, bringing in some of the top catfishermen in the state and region. As of Monday, he had about 35 boats signed up for the competition, and anticipates as any as 70 will be signed up by the time registration ends and the anglers leave the Possum Ridge Boat Ramp at the state park at 9 p.m. for overnight fishing until 8 a.m. Saturday morning.

“Most tournaments are geared toward anglers, but I’m gearing this more toward spectators,” Douglas said. “Catfishing’s really getting huge right now.”

Registration for the event is 5-8:30 p.m. tonight, and during that time, Douglas wants spectators to come early and check out the boats and talk with the fishermen to get tips on how to improve their game.

“We want to introduce more people to the sport, and we want to teach them the right way,” Douglas said, such as employing catch-and-release as well as other methods designed toward conservation of the fish.

Douglas — who has become a YouTube sensation through his instructional videos posted on his “Steve Douglas, The Catfish Dude” channel, which generates hundreds of thousands of views — said he would be staying at the dock while the boats are out putting on a bank-fishing event for the spectators. Folks attending can bring their gear and fish along with Douglas from the banks of Taylorsville Lake until 1 a.m. that night. The lake primarily has blue cats, but also channel cats and flatheads. Many have grown to be massive lunkers.

“There’s good fishing along the banks,” he said, and he encourages spectators to pick his and other anglers’ brains to learn their techniques and methods for success. “I show them how to go catch them.”

Douglas wasn’t always a full-time fisherman. In his former life, he sold appliances until the recession hit in 2008. He had a heart attack right around that time as well, and those two events spurred him to change his lifestyle.

“I just went fishing,” he said. “I decided I wanted to quit working hard and do what I want to do for the rest of my life. … Before, work had always gotten in the way.”

But the entrepreneurial spirit from his life running an appliance business didn’t go away. He started tinkering around and eventually started manufacturing fishing gear under the Monster Rod Holders brand, which has grown to be one of the country’s biggest producers of the products. The YouTube videos and now the Captain Mad Jack’s banner all feed into his success.

“I figured out how to make a business out of it, and I went all-out,” Douglas said.

As he got deeper and deeper into the business, he found out there is a strong community of catfishing enthusiasts out there, evidenced by a conference he helped host in Louisville last year that brought more than 4,000 people.

There may not be that many people at Taylorsville Lake this weekend, but Douglas is hoping for a big turnout, especially for Saturday’s 9 a.m. weigh-in. He says it’s nothing like a bass tournament.

“Where else can you go to a weigh-in and see 40 to 50-pound fish come in?” he asked.

The event is free for spectators, and Douglas has some incentives for those who come out to Saturday’s weigh-in in the form of free raffle tickets for a door prize pool of about $2,000 worth of fishing gear, such as rods and reels and starter kit tackleboxes.