Cierra Locklear didn’t really expect to win Scotty’s Bait and Tackle catfishing tournament at Blewett Falls Lake on Friday night, but she held hands and prayed with her mama anyway before heading out on the boat.
“She wanted to win and give some of the money to our church, Sandy Ridge Baptist,” said Betsy Locklear, Cierra’s mother. “We’re raising money to buy a van, to give people rides to church when they need it. So we prayed about it.”
There might have been a touch of sibling rivalry involved, because Cierra’s 15-year-old brother Aaron has swept both categories in two previous tournaments.
“I was really excited to beat my brother,” said 18-year-old Cierra. “I fish pretty regularly, but he thinks he’s better than me.”
Aaron decided to head off on his own during this tournament, and Cierra stuck with her mom and dad.
“I got a call about an hour or so into the tournament, and my dad said ‘Boy, you’re in trouble — Cierra caught a monster,’” said Aaron.
A monster it was — weighing in at 53.2 pounds, just two ounces short of the tournament record.
“I was going crazy reeling it in,” said Cierra. “As soon as I saw it, I knew we would win the contest.”
Betsy said she had no doubts her daughter would emerge victorious.
“I was just there with snacks and bug spray, but I was praying,” said Betsy. “I knew something good was going to happen.”
Cierra reeled in the biggest catch of her life with no help from anyone.
“Her dad kept saying, ‘Oh, it can’t be that big,’ while she was reeling,” said Betsy. “We were all surprised when we saw just how huge it really was.”
Contestants fished all night before meeting back at the Blewett Falls boat landing for the Saturday morning weigh-in.
“Oh, you should have seen the look on all those men’s faces when Cierra brought out her fish,” said Betsy.
“My brother just stood there with his arms crossed,” said Cierra. “I beat my dad too, but he was really happy.”
Aaron denied any ill will over losing to his sister, despite the teasing he’s since received.
“I was just really surprised about it, but it was a good fish,” he said. “I’m glad she caught it. If I had my license I probably would have been able to go pre-fish more though, and find out where the good spots were.”
Betsy said Cierra checked on the fish, and kept fresh water in the live well so she could release them after the tournament.
“It was definitely a shock to a lot of people when they saw Cierra with the fish,” said her dad David. “I was glad to have some good family time out on the water, but I’m going to have to stop taking her and her brother. They catch bigger fish than I do.”
Fourteen boats entered the tournament, and second and third place was awarded as well. Team “Vince and Jarrod” reeled in a three fish total weigh-in of 85.4 pounds; team “Mike and James” reeled in a total of 82.8 pounds; and Cierra Locklear’s total weigh-in was 98.2 pounds.
Cierra’s combined winnings of biggest fish and total weigh-in categories landed her $490.
Of the tournament proceeds, the sponsors donated $140 to Backpack Pals of Richmond County.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.