8th Annual Brandon Key Catfishing Tournament Raises $60,000 For 30-30 Ministries

100% of entry fees returned to anglers in a tournament that’s been labeled as way more than just a tournament.

GON Staff | June 28, 2023

Dennis Johnson and his crew won first place and a check for $7,500 in the 100% payback Brandon Key Catfishing Tournament on Lake Sinclair June 10-11. The 8th annual tournament is a fundraiser for 30-30 Ministries, a 501c3 non-profit organization youth ministry whose mission is to use hunting and fishing as a platform to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with youth in grades 6 to 12 and their parents.

The annual event recognizes the life of Brandon Key, a former 30-30 Ministries’ camper who lost his life on Sept. 20, 2015 in a UTV accident. Brandon loved 30-30 Ministries, which is why his family and friends host this fundraising tournament every summer.

A record 111 catfishing teams took to the water at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 10 to chase a total purse of more than $23,000. Anglers were allowed 30 floats and six rods. The tournament paid back 10 places and two big-fish pots.

The tournament festivities kicked off at 4 p.m. on Saturday with tables full of raffle items. Part of those items included 11 guns, five guided fish trips, two bowfishing trips and a five-day vacation in Gulf Shores, Ala. Fishermen also enjoyed Christian music by duet Kelley and Georgia West, praise band members at Centennial Baptist Church in Rutledge. Hawkinsville’s Christian Friends Baptist Church Pastor Troy Davis shared the Gospel prior to the tournament. Then, Luke Laster was baptized in Lake Sinclair. Luke gave his life to Jesus a few weeks earlier after a 30-30 Ministries’ Catfish Camp on Lake Sinclair, and he wanted the hundreds of fishermen to know his decision to follow Jesus.

After the safety meeting and before blast-off, Tournament Director Jonathon West called Jamie Key, Brandon’s dad, to the stage.

“Jamie Key is a real man,” Jonathon told the crowd of 600 to 700. “What makes Jamie a real man is that he loves Jesus. As we get ready to go fishing, I want you to ask yourself, ‘are you a real man?’”

Even though 100% of entry fees are returned to anglers, through donations and raffles, the event raised $60,000 for 30-30 Ministries.

“Jonathon West is the hardest-working American I know,” said Brad Gill, director of 30-30 Ministries. “He simply gets things done. I’ve promised Jonathon every year that the funds he raises will go right back into the efforts of 30-30 Ministries, which is to use hunting and fishing as a platform for the Gospel to go out.”

Dennis Johnson (far right) and his crew won the 8th annual Brandon Key Catfishing Tournament with 91 pounds. First place paid out $7,500.

Travis Grindle with big fish in the tournament, a 30-lb. flathead.


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