With 191 teams competing, only one pound separated the first and second place teams.
The Ohio River Cats hosted a record-breaking event at their 15th annual catfish tournament in Rising Sun, Indiana. The two-day tournament began on Friday, September 11th with registration and ended with fishing on Saturday and Sunday with more than $50,000 up for grabs. The big fish of the tournament earned a whopping $6,775!
The always popular tournament, with relatively low entry fees, attracted 191 boats to the River Front at Rising Sun. In this year of the pandemic, a few changes had to be made in the interest of participant health. All were asked to wear masks when around other people.
The fish were biting, and the weather was great on day one. The Ohio team of Tom and Samantha Petrowski and Henry Neafus led the competition at the end of the day with 141.59 pounds that included Big Fish of the tournament at 51.99 pounds.
When the two-day event concluded, more than 8,719 pounds of catfish were weighed in by the 191 teams that competed. That was nearly 2,000 pounds more than in the 2019 event.
Tom and Samantha Petrowski and Henry Neafus held on to their day-one lead to win the two-day tournament. They had a two-day weight of 170.24 pounds, and their Big Fish from day one held up as Big Fish of the tournament at 51.99 pounds. They also won the Driftmaster Bonus.
“The tournament this year was one of the best,” said Tom Petrowski. “Fishing went well for us the first day. We fished above the dam and below the dam with skipjack.”
The team used both suspending and drift fishing to catch their fish. Their good lead on day one and the additional fish they caught on day two was enough to win by only one pound!
“We had an unusual day one,” reported Tom. “We returned to the weigh-in with less than a minute to go before getting disqualified but we made it! My wife Samantha and Henry Neafus fish this tournament every year and we always have a lot of fun.”
“A special thanks to the city of Rising Sun,” concluded Tom. “And to Stephen and everyone that helps run one of the best catfishing tournaments in the country.”
When all was said and done, the team earned $10,000 for First Place, $6,775 for Big Fish, $1,000 for Top Woman Finisher, $500 for Top Veteran/First Responder, and $400 for the Driftmaster Bonus.
The runner up spot went to Scott Wilson and Ray Butler. The Kentucky team made it close with a two-day weight of 169.24 pounds, just one pound out of the lead! They made the run at the leaders from 12th place on day one.
“My partner, Ray Butler, and I decided on an area we were going to target,” reported Wilson. “It offered a lot of depth changes and structure. On day one the river had a water temp of 76 degrees with a mild current around .6 mph.”
Wilson and Butler worked through some different depths and bait sizes to find the bite. They tried both suspended drifting and dragging. It didn’t take them long to figure out that the fish wanted big baits. They reported 75% of the hookups on heads in 42 to 48 feet of water.
“We caught around 15 fish in the 8- to 10-pound range and one in the low 20’s,” continued Wilson. “We did have another fish which I’m sure was in the 20’s spit the hook after a minute or two. We settled for a day one total of 61 pounds.”
On day two the team repeated their day one strategy. They went directly to the same depths with big baits. The current appeared to slow down a little and there was a slight breeze blowing upriver. The breeze kept their drift at about .2 mph. Wilson got a rod hung and at the same time noticed one of the others bent over with the line moving upriver.
“I suspected I didn’t get it far enough off the bottom,” explained Wilson. “When I initially pulled back on the rod, I still thought it was hung and then felt a little head shake. It ended up being a nice flathead around 25 pounds.”
Wilson and Butler celebrated with a couple of fist bumps only to see rods getting hung up again. As Wilson work to get a dragging rod put out, another rod went slowly and steadily down. Butler grabbed this one and boated a 35-pound flathead. They finished the day with 20 fish and another blue in the low 20’s and a day two total of 107 pounds.
“I want to thank Ohio Valley River Cats and the City of Rising Sun for another great event and continuing a 15-year tradition,” offered Wilson. “Also, a shout out to Camp Shore Campgrounds for accommodating a bunch of us and making our stay memorable.”
“Missing First Place by a pound is a tough pill,” concluded Wilson. “But we were pretty tickled with getting that close after being 80 pounds off the winners on day one!”
Kevin Childress and Justin Arthur were in third place after day one and managed to hold their position to claim the spot on the final day. The Indiana team added about 70 pounds on day two and finished with a two-day weight of 162.42 pounds.
4th Place – Holding-Peterson 143.56
5th Place – Miller-Marshall 127.44
6th Place – Tallon-Tolson 122.18
7th Place – Bell-Duncan 121.11
8th Place – Benningfield-Baker 120.37
9th Place – Kraus-Chapman 119.32
10th Place – Fountain-Fountain-Tinsley 116.28
Top Veteran – Top Woman Angler
The wooden American Flag went to Samantha Petrowski as the Top Finishing Veteran/or First Responder. She also won the Top Finishing Woman award.
The 2020 Youth Champion was Katherine Reynolds. She is shown above with tournament director, Stephen Hannan.
By all accounts, the 15th Annual Rising Sun Tournament was a huge success for participants, spectators, and all involved. It was summed up well by one of the anglers, Tyra-Eger Williams.
“I’d like to give a huge THANK YOU to Stephen Paul Hannan,” said Williams. “…and all of the people that make this tournament possible including the city and mayor of Rising Sun, Indiana. We had a great time catching up with old friends and making new ones. We are looking forward to next year!
Events like this do not happen in a vacuum. The Ohio Valley River Cats, the City of Rising Sun, Ohio County Tourism, and tournament director Stephen Hannan and all his volunteers, deserve much credit for supporting this traditional and highly successful fall tournament. And now the plans begin for next year.
For more information on future events call (812) 290-7972. Information on lodging and eateries is available through the Rising Sun/Ohio County Tourism Visitors Center at (812) 438-4933.