If you’re getting tired of catch-and-release catfish, it’s time to get back in fighting shape. Many different types of fishing tournaments are moving forward despite the pandemic, as long as participants follow safety guidelines. If you’re ready for competitive fishing, though, suit up so that you don’t catch something worse than fish. Judging by early October’s Destin Fishing Rodeo in Florida, the emphasis was on the “social,” not the “distancing.”
Whatever fishing you do, locally or elsewhere, keep a mask handy—even in the outdoors—and keep a respectful distance from other anglers. It may not sound difficult to do on the water, but that theory was disproven in August; hundreds descended upon the Illinois River’s White Trash Bash with an abundance of alcohol but very few masks.
We’ve listed a few outstanding excuses for a road trip below. It may be too soon to make concrete plans for these tournaments, which may still face cancellation if the COVID-19 threat continues. But annual events of this magnitude deserve a permanent place on your calendar. In the meantime, check the events’ websites for updates, and keep practicing.
Midwest Open Ice Fishing Tournament
Shanties pop up all over Wamplers Lake in Brooklyn, Michigan, for the yearly two-person team event. Only one line is allowed in the water at a time, and you can choose to fish with or without a shelter. Anticipation runs high for this competition, with $20,000 for first place. A lack of ice necessitated the cancellation of last year’s tournament, with the teams invited to return this year, but no other details are yet available.
The Muzzy Classic
For more than 20 years, Eddyville, Kentucky, has hosted a big-money tournament that attracts hardcore bowfishers from all over the country. You can expect 100 boats to take to Kentucky lakes and the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, to show off the unique mix of archery, hunting, fishing, and bravado that comprises bowfishing. Almost $30,000 went to winners in the last tournament.
The Redneck Fishing Tournament
No fishing poles are necessary at this event in downstate Bath, Illinois. Competitors in colorful costumes use nets to catch Asian carp from the Illinois River—the boat motors cause the fish to jump skyward. Winning boats have caught hundreds of fish in just a few hours. The carp are a safety risk in warmer months, so since 2006, the Redneck Fishing Tournament has served to decrease their numbers and raise money for veterans in need.
Mountain Music Kids Fishing Tournament
Outdoor enthusiasts 16 and under have come to Douglas Lake in Sevierville, Tennessee, for 30 years. Of all the different types of fishing tournaments, this one undeniably has the best outcome: Every child who participates receives an award and a photo with their catch. The top 100 catches get cash prizes.