Cape Gazette

Chester River Catfish Invitational draws hundreds

By Dennis Forney | Sep 03, 2012
Photo by: Dennis Forney Ben Herr, right, presents his hand-crafted catfish trophy, and congratulations, to Chester River Catfish Invitational winner Doug Riordan of Centreville, Md. Jeff Newell, left, served as master of ceremonies for the event.

Chestertown, Maryland — Hundreds of anglers aboard at least 60 boats crowded for space on the upriver side of the Chester River Bridge on Maryland's Upper Eastern Shore at noon on Sunday. With an outgoing tide draining the river, captains worked their anchors to put fishermen close to the concrete bridge structure where lunker catfish cool in the shadows.  The goal?  Catch the day's biggest catfish and head home $1,500 richer than when the Fifth Annual Chester River Catfish Invitational started at 5 a.m. Sept. 2. Weigh-in on the banks of the river started at 1 p.m. so the last-minute rush to the bridge offered the last chance for many of the anglers to cash in.

When tourney founder Ben Herr finished weighing entries by about 2 p.m., he pronounced Centreville, Maryland's Doug Riordan as grand champion with an 11-pound two-ounce channel cat.  Kim Hall won bragging rights with the largest fish caught on an all-female vessel while Dutch Nickerson and Hill Peace found themselves in the money for, respectively,  the junior 10-15 and under-10 divisions.

It's safe to say anglers pulled nearly a ton of catfish out of the Chester using baits and chum ranging from oatmeal, steamed shrimp and peeler crabs to clam snouts, buggies (also known as menhaden) and yellow perch. Most of the fish were stashed in coolers to be given to catfish aficionadoes throughout Kent and Queen Anne's counties.

Ben Herr weighs Riordan's winning entry - an 11-pound, two-ounce channel catfish.
The upriver side of the Chester River Bridge drew anglers for a last-minute chance to catch a winning fish lurking in the shadows of the concrete structure.
Allison Hall and Craig Fleetwood prepare a cooler-load of catfish for distribution to catfish fanciers in the surrounding area.
Casey Owings, left, pays Dennis Forney $100 to honor his side bet for the combined weight of the team's top-two catfish. Fishing on the Coakley team, the winners' top-two fish edged the Owings team's fish by one ounce.  David Herr, left, makes sure Owings lets go of the money.
Coakley team captain Mike Coakley heads downriver to a catfish hotspot while Tom Herr, left, and Mike Pearce rest up for the next angling foray.
It's tough to catch catfish when crew members eat the bait before it's hit bottom.  Tom Herr is famous, even among catfish, for his steamed shrimp.
As a boatload of anglers ferried their way back to a flotilla of rafted vessels anchored 25-yards offshore, someone on another boat hollered out: "Hey, you all just get here from Cuba?"
This was the scene on the banks of the Chester after the winners were announced and people began celebrating.
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