For an entry fee of $110, a boat could be entered with one or two men. A five-fish limit was observed, and prizes were awarded for greatest total weight, and for the first and second largest individual fish. The total purse for the event was $12,870, first place worth $3,000, second worth $2,000, and third at $1,000. The tournament paid the top 23 finishers.
The event attracted professional fishermen with corporate sponsorships, as well as recreational amateurs from Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and Indiana. In all, 117 boats entered into the catch-and-release contest.
Unpredictable Kentucky spring weather proved to be as much of a curse as a blessing. The team of Fred Sykes of Morganfield and Cliff Burleson of Sturgis brought in a catch of 14.7 pounds earl into the weigh in.
“It felt like the North Atlantic out there when the wind got up,” said Burleson of the wind and drizzle.
Consistency in the weather was missed. Stephen Nesmith of Madisonville explained, “There would be a lot more big fish caught if the weather had stayed cloudy. I caught a lot of small fish that I had to throw back.”
For Nesmith, the tournament was more personal than winning or placing in. “I lost my mother-in-law to cancer two years ago. Relay for Life helps raise money for a great cause. If you’ve ever had your life touched by cancer, then you can appreciate that. I will come back next year just for the cause. If I could only fish in one tournament, it would be this one right here.”
For over an hour, boats pulled in and weighed their catches. Local businessman Rick Chidester presided over the weigh-in and acted as the master of ceremonies.
For the rest of this story, please see this week's edition of The Cadiz Record.