Recreational catfishing continues to grow, often in a family way. Tournament teams are frequently brothers, fathers and sons, husband and wife, or some other combination of family members. When boat number 7 at Monsters on the Ohio launches on Oct. 8, 2016 it will be historic. The first ever all female team to fish the Monsters event will be competing that day on the Ohio River.
GTO Fishing is the sister team of Jessica Little-Oakley and Reesha Little-Oakley. “We have always fished and hunted since we were very young,” said Jessica. “We always loved it. Fishing was our favorite and we would fish for anything.” The sisters cut their tournament teeth in the bass arena, but enjoy fishing in general. “We participated in bass tournaments for a few years,” continued Jessica. “Day to day we fish for anything and everything, including musky, crappie, bass and catfish. We bow fish for carp and gar and love to gig frogs. We love it all.”
When asked where the GTO Fishing name came from Jessica and Reesha revealed a heart-wrenching story. “We recently lost our baby brother,” disclosed Jessica. “His name was Grant Thomas Oakley – GTO. He LOVED to hunt and fish. He was killed at work on November 3, 2015.”
Grant was only 17 years old and was an avid outdoorsman. He loved spending time with his sisters and loved everything about the outdoors. “He was amazing at all of it,” said Jessica. “He was a natural. We took him with us and taught him how to fish and hunt, but his favorite was catfishing.”
“He loved it so much that all of his friends knew him as “Catfish,” added Reesha. “He even had a decal that he drew out on the back of his truck,” explained Jessica. “It was an outline of a catfish with his nickname “Catfish” inside it. Soon after his death, me and Reesha had his catfish drawing tattooed on our shoulders with our nickname for him, ‘Brother Bear,’ in place of the word ‘Catfish’ that he had on his truck.”
Jessica is an FMD/MSD teacher for Garrard County Schools. Reesha works at Jeff Jones Marine in operations and sales. Both were born in Mt. Sterling, KY then moved to Menifee County where they live now. Since their loss of “Brother Bear” the sisters have started catfishing more and learning new methods for catching them.
“When the opportunity presented itself for us to be a part of one of the biggest catfish tournaments of the year we were a little intimidated as well as excited,” offered Reesha. “There are so many skilled and experienced fisherman involved in Monsters on the Ohio. We feel very honored to be a part of this event as the first all-female team and we are extremely grateful for everyone in the catfishing community for being so receptive and supportive of us joining.”
“We want to honor our brother and continue what he loved,” added Jessica. “This is why we call it GTO Fishing. We drew the #7 spot, which is another story in itself. It is an inside-type thing we had with Grant. We call little things like that the staples that keep us together. So, not only is it something we enjoy immensely, we get to continue in his name and it seems almost like fate. We get to do what we love and we get to honor our brother and his memory. We are completely humbled by this opportunity and forever grateful.”
Team GTO Fishing will be hittin’ the river with one goal in mind. “Our goal is to enjoy it,” stated Jessica. “We want to have fun and help others have fun. Do we want to catch some fish? Absolutely! We always want to catch fish! We don’t expect to win and we may not do that well, but we’re going to give it our all and just enjoy it. We do it for fun because fishing is something we love.”
“We are excited for the opportunity,” added Reesha. “We will have a great time whether we catch fish or not. So, I guess we approach the tournament with an open mind as we look forward to being around so many other people with common interests.”
Aaron Wheatley, Monsters on the Ohio tournament director, had this advice for the sister team. “With this being their first catfishing tournament, I’d say staying close would be a good plan. Ledges, wood and rock piles would be my main focus. Drifting up and around all three types of structure and hitting that Spot-Lock button some. They can do it within 5 miles up or down the river from the launch.”
Team GTOs main sponsors are Jeff Jones Marine, Monster Rod Holders, Carrot Stix Rods and YETI Coolers. Their jerseys also carry the logos of GTO, HydorWeb Release Nets, Blue Water LED, and Catfish Conference.
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