A big round of applause today for Joy Long of Fayetteville, winner of the 2017 Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette fish story contest.
Her saga of a fishing trip with her dad was judged the best among the stack of fish stories you readers entered in this prestigious literary contest. Her championship story and others from the contest grace today’s Outdoors section.
Long was tickled to receive the grand prize, a fine selection of fishing lures courtesy of Arkie Lures in Springdale and War Eagle Custom Lures in Rogers. She plans to give the lures a workout.
“I was born to fish,” Long said. She and her dad, the late Dr. Ross Bizzell, were a team, running trotlines for big catfish. Reading her story may spark a powerful appetite where she writes about those dinners of fried catfish nuggets, french fries, hush puppies and coleslaw
Long promises to defend her title next year.
“I’ve got more fish stories than you could fit in the paper,” she said.
No one has ever won back to back fish story victories. Long could be the first.
Thanks to our judges, David Higgenbothem of Hindsville, Mary Loots of Beaver Lake and Boat Dock, the tomcat, for their fine work. Here’s how the judging played out.
Higgenbothem and his wife, Rhonda, picked Long’s story as their favorite. Loots was smitten with the story by Edward Michan of Sulphur Springs about a fishing trip in Alaska when he was in the Navy. So we have our two finalists, Long and Michan.
Chief Judge Boat Dock is now ready to judge, sort of. He’s asleep in the shade out on the deck in the throes of another 19-hour power nap. As he snoozes, the two stories are placed indoors on the living room carpet. An equal number of cat treats is placed on each story. Whichever story Boat Dock goes to for his treat wins. Would this make a great reality show or what?
The bag of treats gets a shake. This gets Boat Dock’s attention. After a good long stretch he saunters through the patio door and into the living room, tail held high. Hizzhonor makes a bee line for Long’s story. We have our winner!
The Higgenbothems got their female cat, Precious, in on the judging. They liked Long’s story, but also thought Michan’s Alaska story was championship stuff. So they placed both on the floor, treats on each story, and let Precious do the judging.
The Higgenbothems did extra duty and picked a third story they liked, one by Marvin Wilber of Maysville. Wilber wrote about a bass fishing trip with his late wife, Billie, at Lake Eucha in Oklahoma.
Thanks to everyone who entered the contest. So while Long basks in fish story fame, it’s high time to get out on the water and gather material for next year’s contest. Could be your picture here next year, fish story champion, published author and winner of the grand prize.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @NWAFlip
Sports on 06/27/2017