Asian Carp have been flying into boats, pummeling people and messing up the habitat in the Illinois River. After the carp hit Betty DeFord’s grandkids when fishing she took matters into her own hands and planned the first Redneck Fishing Tournament. This year was the 9th hillbilly fishing event held in the little town of Bath, Illinois where the participants use nets and no poles.
I attended this event to cover for Farm World and was delighted at the fun event that had two purposes, one to remove the carp from the river, and two to raise funds for homeless veterans. Third I suppose I should mention was just for a good time
August 1 and 2nd 2014, the 9th tournament was held. I expected Illinois residents from far and wide, but to my surprise I was interviewing fisherman from all over. Russell Ricker from at home Ricker fishes for trout and small mouth bass after hearing about Redneck Fishing on TV and the Internet and said, “It looks like a blast,” he laughed.
Five other individuals from Key Largo, New Mexico, Nebraska and Kansas City said they that met “In different stages of life.”
Last year the group went alligator fishing and this year the Red Neck Fly Fishing Tournament won out.
Contestants stayed in nearby hotels and many just camped at the park and in lawns in Bath. The entire town turned into this weekend event that has been profiled on ESPN and an array of media outlets.
Betty DeFord said that competitors try their luck in two heats a day and the team that scores the most fish in the winner. They have 1st – 4th places. Besides the fishing contest, there was also a costume contest. While I was only there the first day of the event, I saw one group with Mohawks, another dressed for tennis and some veteran fisherman were returning and were ready for the danger the big flying carp could present. “We are from Litchfield, Illinois,” they said. “We brought our football helmets, I got hit in the head last year and it hurt!”
Two young women, Tracie Glick and her friend Lee Ann Wright were decked out in their ”rebel costume” of red, white and blue and “redneck solider princess costume”. The two said they are regulars at this event.
“We have been here the last few years,” Glick said. “We meet up with regulars; we come to see the people more than anything.”
On Saturday, chefs came to prepare the carp and give away samples promoting the fish as a viable market.
This is just one of the websites you can log on to find out more information about the tournament, http://www.redneckfishingtournament.com/. Also stay posted for my in depth article that will run in a future issue of Farm World!