94 Pounds Wins Brandon Key Catfishing Tournament

Top team collects $5,300 for first place and big-fish honors.

GON Staff | July 1, 2020

If you noticed a large number of catfish noodles floating in Lake Sinclair the weekend of May 30-31, it was because the 5th Annual Brandon Key Catfishing Tournament was being hosted out of Crooked Creek Marina.

The team of Tremaine Dent, of Haddock, and Austin Martin, of Gray, won the event with a five-fish limit that weighed 94 pounds. They also had big fish for the tournament, a 31-lb. blue cat. All total, the pair collected $5,300 in the 42-boat tournament.

“We did do a little bit of rod and reel fishing, but 95% of the fish we caught were on jugs,” said Tremaine. “We used cut bream and shrimp for bait. We had tons of fun. It’s a great tournament, and it’s definitely a growing tournament.”

First Place: The team of Austin Martin (left), of Gray, Tremaine Dent, of Haddock, won the 5th Annual Brandon Key Catfishing Tournament with a five-fish limit that weighed 94 pounds. They also had big fish for the tournament, a 31-lb. blue cat. All total, the pair collected $5,300 in the 42-boat tournament.

The annual catfish tournament is hosted to celebrate the life of Brandon Key, who was a 15-year-old sophomore at Morgan County High School when he lost his life on Sept. 20, 2015 in a UTV accident.

“In 2013, Brandon attended a deer hunting event with 30-30 Ministries, and he absolutely fell in love with the ministry,” said Jonathon West, a close family friend who puts on the annual fishing tournament. “So the reasoning behind this tournament is to celebrate Brandon’s life but to also raise awareness and funds for 30-30 Ministries.”

30-30 Ministries is a 501c3 non-profit organization based in Eatonton that was established in September 2010. The ministries’ mission is to use hunting and fishing as a platform to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with youth 6-12 grade and their parents.

“Brandon went to a 30-30 Ministries’ Deer Camp in south Georgia, but they hunt and fish all sorts of things—turkey, rabbit, hog, crappie, sharks, and they even go to South Africa and use hunting to minister with local children through a partnership with a safari outfitter,” said Jonathon. “I’ve attended five 30-30 Ministries’ Camps with my daughter, and they are amazing. These weekends are free, and they feed you, lodge you and let you go hunting or fishing. For me, the best part of the Camps was spending time with her as we learned about Jesus together. My daughter recently got saved, and I know the seeds planted during those Camps played a big part in that.”

Brandon Key (far right) at a 30-30 Ministries Deer Camp in December 2013.

This year’s catfishing tournament raised a record-setting $22,235 for 30-30 Ministries. Those funds were generated mostly through tournament sponsorships.

“This fundraiser is huge for the ministry,” said William Black, treasurer for 30-30 Ministries. “Our 2019 budget was a little over $46,000, so it’s easy to see just how beneficial this fundraiser is to the operation of the ministry. We ran 23 Camps in 2019, so you can imagine that without Jonathon and his crew doing what they do, we wouldn’t be able to operate at the level we have.”

Before the tournament started on Saturday evening, Jonathon’s daughter, Georgia, 14, shared the story of when she got saved and the importance of 30-30 Ministries in her life. After that, she was baptized in Lake Sinclair by her pastor Terry Richardson with Centennial Baptist Church in Rutledge and Chuck Hester, a 30-30 Ministries’ board member. Also baptized was Brandon Key’s dad, Jamie, who was saved in 2006 but had never been baptized.

“It was good for those fishing to see just a little bit of what we do as a ministry,” said Chuck Hester. “Before the tournament started and before the baptisms took place, we had the opportunity to share the Gospel with everyone. Sharing Jesus with people through hunting and fishing is the sole purpose of 30-30 Ministries. If you take the Gospel out of it, then none of us want anything to do with it. God gave us our passions for hunting and fishing, and we want to use them to reach people.”

Before 9 a.m. on Sunday morning, tired anglers arrived back at Crooked Creek Marina and were greeted with warm sausage biscuits and hot coffee, compliments of the generous folks at the marina.

After 21 of 42 teams brought catfish to the scale, the top-five teams were announced and paid back using 100% of the entry fees. Below are the top-five teams, their weights and their cash winnings.

The 6th Annual Brandon Key Catfishing Tournament is scheduled for June 5-6, 2021. For more information, contact Tournament Director Jonathon West at 404.867.2455 or [email protected].

For more on 30-30 Ministries, go to

Georgia West: Georgia West shares her testimony at the rules meeting prior to the start of the 5th Annual Brandon Key Catfishing Tournament. Jamie Key (left), Brandon’s dad, listens.

Baptism: Georgia West (middle) and Jamie Key (far right) were both baptized in Lake Sinclair before the start of the 5th Annual Brandon Key Catfishing Tournament. Also pictured are (from left) Centennial Baptist Church in Rutledge Pastor Terry Richardson and Chuck Hester and Brad Gill with 30-30 Ministries.

Second Place: Dudley Spence (left) and James Harwood, both from Madison, finished 3 pounds out of first place with a five-fish limit that weighed 91 pounds. Their big fish weighed 25 pounds. They split $1,600 for the tournament.

Prizes: Between the weigh and the presentation of checks, there was several thousand dollars worth of hunting and fishing and fishing products given out to anglers. Here, Tournament Director Jonathon West (right) gives catfish angler Luke Johnson, of Madison, a Laser Genetics night vision scope that retails for $350.

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