For about a decade, boaters have gotten together in Bath, Illinois, to participate in the Redneck Fishing Tournament. This year, the event ran from August 7 to the 8, but it did a lot more than provide ample fishing opportunities for local enthusiasts.
The main goal of the tournament is to collect the largest amount of carp in the two hour time limit given.
However, there is a catch (pun intended): boaters are not able to use fishing poles. Instead, participants must catch the fish as they jump in the air.
According to Peoria Public Radio, creator Betty DeFord started the tournament in 2005 in an attempt to rid the river running along to town from an invasive species of Asian carp.
“We started this as a little fishing event to rid these rivers of the Asian carp so we could take our grandkids fishing,” says DeFord. “We had 1,000 people show up that first event that we had, and it’s just grown every year since.”
The invasive Asian carp species has been killing off large numbers of native fish that are the most desirable to those who fish for work or sport. The carp also pose a threat to boaters, as the 40-pound fish are known to leap out of the water when startled by boat engines.
And it is that same leaping that makes catching them so easy. The carp are able to feel the vibrations of the boat engine, which can cause them to jump out of the water. Once in the air, the fish can be caught with a net.
Freshwater fishing is the most popular type of fishing, with more than 28 million fishermen and women devoting nearly 467 million days to the sport. This is how DeFord knew the tournament would work.
“We look forward to doing it ever year,” said Albert Johnson, a regular competitor. “The whole family: wife, grandkids, daughters, all of that’s here. The sites, the excitement, the fish flying in the air, it’s just lots of fun.”
During the last tournament, participants cleared nearly 10,000 Asian carp out of the river.