The Ohio River Cats hosted a record-breaking event at 14th annual catfish tournament.
The fish were biting and the weather was great for the 14th Annual Rising Sun Catfish Tournament. The Ohio Valley River Cats presented the Sept. 7-8 event in Rising Sun, IN. Always a popular tournament, 2019 was better than ever.
When the two-day event was over more than 6,840 pounds of catfish were weighed in by the 183 teams that competed. The 183 teams were made up of 429 anglers, which is a new tournament record. Nearly $43,000 was distributed to the winners. The first-place big fish alone paid a whopping $6,290.
The top spot at Rising Sun went to an angler who is very familiar with the winner’s circle. Dale Kerns teamed up with his son Matt to take the first-place hardware home to Norris City, IL.
“We have fished many tournaments around the country for many years,” said Kerns in a Facebook post. “[I] …believe that the tournament is only as good as the promoter. I will say this, Stephen Paul Hannan and family is a class act. Rising Sun should be proud to have this family running the show. GREAT JOB!”
“Matthew kicked my butt with them Bear Planer Boards,” continued Dale, referring to his son. “[T]hey are unique and very impressive, now I just got to figure out what rods to drag them with. Thanks, everyone and see ya at the next 1.”
The runner up spot went to Marty Kraus And Ginger Chapman. Ginger also claimed the Female Champion title. They fished above Tanners and about a mile above the 275 Bridge in waters that Kraus knows very well. The team from Brookville, IN weighed a two-day total of 142.2 pounds to claim the second-place spot.
“The weather was great the first day.” Reported Kraus a converted bass and walleye guy. “It was overcast and we did our best on day one. There was a lot more sun on the second day. We lost some good fish on day two.”
Kraus and Chapman drifted most of the time but occasionally anchored up. They were fishing from a boat that Kraus had just fixed up this year and he was not yet familiar with the boat and was not happy with it as they were having some issues with it.
“It took me about a mile to get the boat up on plane with a limit of fish in my live well,” Kraus said. “I was afraid I wasn’t going to make it back to the weigh-in.
Chapman moved to the bow of the boat and sit there to even out the weight distribution. The boat slowly rose to plane and they continued to the scales, but at a much slower rate than Kraus would like.
“The weather couldn’t have been better,” confirmed Chapman. “But we were having issues with our boat and were limited in the places that we could fish. We were afraid that we wouldn’t make it back to weigh-in on time.”
“The first thing I think about the tournament is the great job that Stephen and Amber Hannan did,” said Chapman. “I like the added prizes for youth it’s just great to get the youth into the sport and recognize their effort. Also, Steve’s sense of humor just livened things up.”
Chapman is new to the catfishing game, but loving it. She recognized Kraus for introducing her to the sport.
“I absolutely love it,” declared the new Rising Sun Female Champ. “I’m so glad Marty introduced me to the sport. I have been pond fishing for as long as I can remember, but getting on the biggins out in the river—that’s been in the last 3 years. And I’m definitely hooked!”
Third place went to Jamie and James Shields from Eminence Kentucky. They brought a two-day total weight of 114.8 pounds to the scales to earn their spot.
Big Fish of the Tournament went to the team of Edward Browning and Walt Ross. They were boat number 163 so thy waited patiently as the countdown continued launching the boats on Saturday morning.
“Everyone took off in order,” reported Browning. “They finally got to me and we took off downriver toward Patriot, Indiana. I fished the area the week before to scout the area since we had never been there before.”
Browning and Ross started drifting around North Landing Rd. They were using a variety of baits, including bluegill and skipjack, mostly skipjack. About 8 am they drifted past a creek opening and around 9 am they had 2 hard bites and were engaged in a double hook up.
“I grabbed one pole,” reported Browning. “My partner, Walt Ross grabbed the other. We were wrestling two fish in. We both saw Walt’s pop up and how big it was. I quickly grab the net and netted my fish and then turned to net his. It was a great experience.”
Ross’s big cat pulled the scales to 53.6 pounds and earned big fish of the tournament.
“Skipjack was the ticket for the winning fish,” concluded Browning. “It was a 1-inch square piece of skipjack. It was a pretty small bait for such a massive fish!”
Shannon and Bob Davis had the second big fish of the tournament. Their big cat weighed in at 46.5 pounds.
The number 10 team of Eyre-Massman-Eyre traveled from Mt. Orab, OH to fish the Rising Sun Tournament. Significantly, their team included Blake Eyre who earned the Youth Champion title.
Tournament Director, Stephen Paul Hannan, was pleased with the tournament and praised the City of Rising Sun Council and Mayors Office and Ohio County Tourism for their outstands support of the tournament.
“The whole weekend went about as smooth as you could possibly imagine,” recalled Hannan. “My family and helpers stepped up and were fantastic. The fish were biting for the most part. And the atmosphere was terrific.”
“I expected this year to be a nightmare with it being a transition year,” continued Hannan. “But it was the exact opposite. It was a dream. My mind was blown when they told me the total of anglers and boats.”
The weigh-ins were handled efficiently both days. The volunteer team weighed 141 boats on Saturday in 2.5 hours. The only hiccup of the two-day tournament was provided by Mother Nature. Sunday morning, day-two, experienced an hour-long fog delay. That pushed Sunday’s weigh-in back an hour to cause the minor glitch in the schedule.
“The anglers were great and I am truly grateful for their participation,” offered Hannan. “Seeing them happy and energetic and eager to be there makes me excited for next year.”
Hannan had a lot of help in his inaugural year of directing the popular Rising Sun Tournament. He was quick to recognize their support.
“I have to give a huge shout out to my wife Amber for being so supportive,” Hannan said. “Thanks also to my parents. Cody Miller was fantastic with our computer work, and Don Irrgang is the only reason our stage looked as good as it did. He was a lifesaver in more ways than one. I thank them all.”
“This weekend was so magical that all thoughts and talks about not having this event anymore are no longer thoughts or even being discussed,” pronounced Hannan. “We will be back with a 15th edition of the Grand Daddy of them all in 2020. The tournament, like always, will be the weekend after Labor Day, September 12-13. We hope to see everyone there again along with even more teams. And stay tuned because we have a few things possibly in store this winter.”
Hannan sent out a special thank you to all of the tournament sponsors for making the event possible.
“I especially want to thank the City of Rising Sun, Council and Mayors office, Main Street, and Ohio County Tourism,” Hannan said. “A big thank you to the community too. The crowds at the weigh-ins were big and cheerful.”
For more information on the event call (812) 290-7972. Information on lodging and eateries is available through the Rising Sun/Ohio County Tourism Visitors Center at (812) 438-4933.