5th Catfish Tourney on the Banks (To be held on March 23rd, 2014)

Hello, Blog Readers!

I'm bringing you guys the official post for the "5th Catfish Tourney on the Banks." All rules and regulations are below!

The 5th Catfish Tourney on the Banks will be held on the Schuylkill Banks on March 23rd, 2014 (between Locust and Walnut bridges). The rain date for it is March 30th, 2014. I expect the weather to be much warmer by then! The fish should be biting great. 

Side note for the winners of the 1st Catfish Tourney on the Banks: since the first competition was a "test" to see how well this tourney project would go, your prizes were different than all other competitions. Thus, I've purchased a set of trophies for you guys. Linda Z., Don G., and Kevin W. -- please contact me to pick up your trophies. Since you were the winners of the original Tourney, your names are engraved in the trophies.

Side note for the winners of the 4th Catfish Tourney on the Banks: please know that your trophies are available to be picked up. Pedro R., Jose N., Lowell and Joe -- please contact me to pick up your trophies. 

For information regarding previous competitions, you may click on the links below:

Regarding parking: since the 1st Catfish Tourney on the Banks, a lot of people have been asking me about "parking" around the Philadelphia Center City area. Therefore, here's a link for parking spots that are close to the Schuylkill Banks. As one can see, there are plenty of parking spots close to the competition site, not to mention that it's free parking on Sundays! Myself, I would recommend parking on top of the Walnut or Chestnut street bridges.

Now, let's go for the complete set of rules and additional information regarding the 5th Catfish Tourney on the Banks. Interested readers and future participants: please read it carefully -- there have been some changes since the previous competition!

1. The Event and the Rules.

A. The Event:

-- The fifth official Catfish Tourney on the Banks will happen between the Locust and Chestnut Bridges on the Schuylkill Banks. This will be the first Catfish tourney series for the year of 2014. The official date for the event is March 23rd, 2014 (a Sunday). In case of rain or extreme weather issues, the "rain date" is set to be a week after -- March 30th, 2014. Registered participants will be contacted through e-mail and/or phone call one day prior to the event, in case of bad weather and/or cancellation. Regardless, an e-mail will be sent out to all registered participants one day prior to the competition as a reminder of the same. Thus, make sure to check your e-mail on the day of the competition, before leaving your house.

-- Contestants may enter the competition "solo" or as a "team" of 2 individuals. In the second case, the team will be treated as a single unit; therefore, each team will be subjected to all the other rules stated below as one unit (i.e. 2 rods per team; same lb bag per team; etc). The entry fee for the competition is $20 for "solo" (one person), and $30 dollars for a team (2 individuals) -- cash only. The fee will be collected right before the beginning of the competition, during the check-in around the Walnut street bridge. Notice that this friendly tourney is profit-free! For more details, see the prize section (section #3). 

-- Public transportation around the area is available (i.e. Amtrak, Regional Rails, and Septa), and it's highly recommended: the distance between the site of the competition and those stations is a brief 10 minutes walk. For vehicles, there's parking along the Walnut and Chestnut bridges, as well as parking around 26th and Locust streets. Here's a link for parking spots that are close to the Schuylkill Banks. Note that parking is free on Sundays! 

-- The minimum number of participants for this competition will be 15 individuals and teams all combined. If there are not enough participants a day prior to the competition, all registered competitors will be contacted about its cancellation either via e-mail or phone (if provided). Note that a higher number of participants results in a higher amount for the cash prizes (see prize section; section #3)! Thus, you are free to invite your buddies and/or family members to come. =) 

-- Instead of the traditional tourney format of 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. (9 hours total), the 5th Catfish Tourney on the Banks will start at 9 a.m. sharp and end at 3 p.m. (6 hours total). It's highly recommended for people to show up 1 hour or half an hour prior to the beginning of the event in order to set up or pick a good spot on the banks! Late registered participants will not be disqualified; however, they will clearly have a disadvantage in terms of time and location. Therefore, plan your schedule carefully.

-- Prizes will be awarded up to half an hour after the end of the competition, in situ. The winners: 1st, 2nd, 3rd place, and "Big Fish," will immediately walk out of the event with their prizes: cash and trophies. The distribution of the cash prizes are defined in section #3. 

-- Since this is a friendly competition, participants are free to leave the site at any given moment. There's a restroom and drinking fountain between the Locust and Walnut streets (on the Schuylkill Banks). There is a Rite Aid on the intersection of 23rd and Walnut streets, in case anyone needs additional water or food. There's also a breakfast place on the intersection of 24th and Locust streets (they do take out). If there are small emergencies, participants may leave and come back as far as they come back within the range of the competition (9-3 p.m.).

-- Children that are 15 years old or below are highly encouraged to participate in a team. According to the PA Fish and Boat Commission's laws, they are not required to have a fishing license in order to fish. Note that the parent/adult is responsible for his/her child's safety in situ! See the liability waiver in the registration form for more details (this document will be sent via e-mail once you contact me about the competition).

B. The General Fishing Rules:

Important Note: All fishing participants will abide by all PA Boat and Commission regulations and safety guidelines (click here for more details). Thus, that includes having a valid PA fishing license for anyone who is 16 years old or above (as emphasized below)!

-- A PA fishing license is required for anyone older than the age of 15. The license must be shown at the check-in, before the competition, and placed on an outer garment during the entire period of the tourney (9:00-3:00 p.m.). Participation without a license will not be permitted. The license can be purchased online or in certain local stores (i.e. Dicks Sporting goods, Walmart, or Bait Shops -- Brinkmans bait and Tackle, Bob's bait and TackleSportsmaster; etc). 

-- Fishing spots will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis; therefore, no one has rights to complain if the same comes late! You are being advised way in advance and you should time yourself for the event. Also, for more comfort and better fishing, the spots will be divided in sections, so all anglers can stay at least 10 feet apart from each other.

-- Although the PA law states that it's legal to fish using 3 rods per session and 3 hooks per rod, the competition will work on the "2 rods per unit" and "2 hooks per rod" rule, with the purpose of preserving space for all competitors. Anyone who disrespects this rule will be given an initial warning and a penalty of 2lbs on the total weight of the bag (see weighting below). A second time will result in disqualification and no refund.

-- Weight-in: there will be a fixed weight in station under the Walnut street bridge! Instead of the traditional weight-in system in competitions, which happens at the end of it, the weight-in for this specific competition will happen just after each successfully landed fish. In other words, after properly unhooking a fish, the participant should walk towards the weight-in station. I'll eventually be on "lookout mode" as well, walking around to see if anyone is catching fish. Every Catfish will be measured and recorded in paper (this is a must). Take in consideration that even the smallest Catfish may contribute greatly for your fish bag! Therefore, make sure that you bring all of your Catfish catches. 

-- There will be a penalty for mishandling fish. Every fish should be perfectly CPRed (caught, photoed, and released). In case the fish swallows the hook badly, the line should be cut. In case a fish is heavily injured and dies, there will be a severe penalty of 5lbs per incident. Catfish are tough fish; therefore, there shouldn't be any incidents! Please follow the appropriate guidelines for safely practicing CPR - "Catch, Photo Release."

-- A net is highly recommended for landing big fish (drop net or 8-feet long net for the Schuylkill Banks). A Balzer fishing net is highly recommended. Believe me -- you do not want to take your chances by pulling a big fish by the line. That could take your winning chance away! High tide on March 23rd will be at 6:48 a.m., and low tide at 2:48 p.m.. Again, a drop net or 8-feet long net is highly recommended.

-- Only Catfish will be counted as part of this tourney's bag. That includes the following Species of fish from the tidal Schuylkill River: Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), White Catfish (Ameiurus catus), Flathead Catfish (Pylodictis olivaris), Brown Bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus), and Yellow Bullhead (Ameiurus natalis). Note that there are no Blue Catfish in the Schuylkill River. Each participant must weight-in all of his/her Catfish catches from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.. The five biggest ones in terms of weight will determine the final bag/result for given participant. 

2. Registration

In order to register for this event, please send an e-mail to "sheng12182527@gmail.com" with "5th Catfish Tourney on the Banks" on the subject line. Also, write in the e-mail if you are registering yourself as "solo" ($20) or "team" ($30). 

Once I receive the e-mail, a proper response will be sent back. It will contain two formal Microsoft Word registration files (.docx): one with the registration form and liability waiver, and the other document with this set of rules. Once the competitor fills up the registration file and e-mails it back to me, the same will be officially registered in the tourney! In case of a team registration, please make sure to include the names of both participants in a single file.

On site registration will be available on Sunday, March 23rd, from 8:00-9:00 a.m.. I'll be under the Walnut Street Bridge with printed registration forms. However, please note: I would prefer everyone to sign in in advance since the event will not happen if there are 15 or less participants a day prior to the event!

3. Results and Prizes

The prizes will be distributed for the following positions: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places, as well as the "Big Fish" (biggest Catfish of the day, in terms of weight).

Note that the 5th Catfish Tourney on the Banks is a non-profit competition, meaning that Extreme Philly Fishing is making no money out of such an event! 20% of the total cash amount will be donated to the SRDC non-profit organization, which focuses on maintaining a clean environment and trail for everyone. Read more about it here. In other words, $4-$6 dollars of your registration fee will go directly to a local non-profit organization. That part of your money will be focused on the well-being of the local community. 

The remaining amount will be put together for the remaining cash prizes.

Summarizing, the prizes will be distributed as it follows (in cash, at the end of the event): 

-- 20% of all proceeds gathered in the tourney will go to the Schuylkill River Development Corporation non-profit organization. Therefore, as mentioned above, the "Catfish Tourney on the Banks" series is a profit-free event.

After subtracting 20% from the final amount of cash gathered, the remaining will be distributed as it follows:

1st place: 40% of remaining cash + 1st place Trophy
2nd place: 30% of remaining cash + 2nd place Trophy
3rd place: 20% of remaining cash + 3rd place Trophy
Big Catfish: 10% of remaining cash + Big Fish Trophy

Therefore, the minimum prize amount for the 5th Catfish Tourney on the Banks will be (based on 15 participants and no teams):

15 participants = $300
20% of 300 will go to a non-profit organization: $60

The remaining $240 will be distributed as it follows:
1st place: 40% --> $96
2nd place: 30% --> $72
3rd place: 20% --> $48
Big Catfish: 10% --> $24

Note: if, for example, the first place is also accounted for the biggest Catfish of the day, that person will be taking $96+24, and he/she will be receiving both trophies.

Another example: if the number of participants are actually 20 instead of 15, with 8 teams: 8*30 + 12*20= $480. The same calculation is performed. Therefore, the higher the number of participants/teams, the higher the amount of money distributed.

A formal e-mail from the non-profit organization will be requested after the donation is in, so every participant will receive a gesture of gratitude.

4. Additional Information

Here's a list of "advices" for every participant in the competition. If this is the first competition of your life, you should take in consideration the sentences below:

- Bring different types of bait: I would suggest 2-3 different types of bait for the competition. If they are not biting on one of them, switch! Trying different approaches is always a good idea. For bait choices, I would recommend: chicken liver, soap, nightcrawlers, bagels, bread dough, hot dogs, etc.

- Try different types of rigs: the idea that Catfish "always bite on the bottom" is a myth! Catfish will eat suspended baits! Therefore, if your rig on the bottom is not working properly, why not try to leave your bait a couple inches suspended from the bottom? Skuke Catfish can also be caught on a float.

- Never keep slack line: unless you are fishing for the giants, slack line is never a good idea. You are basically giving the smaller fish enough time to chew on your bait and leave. The big ones can swallow the hook. And the worst thing? You don't usually notice the bite if your line is slack! Therefore, use 1-2oz weights on the Banks and keep a straight line. 

- Try different distances: Somehow, most anglers believe that casting out there brings in bigger fish! On the Banks, I've caught many 5-7lbers along the walls -- simply dropping my line straight down! Soap is a killer bait for this technique, since American Eels ignore it. If you use chicken liver or cutbait, soon you will get a snag. Why? Because the American Eels dragged your hook to their holes!

- Avoid snags: there are very few snags from Locust to Chestnut. The snag area is really around the bridges, since a lot of people tend to throw trash in those areas. The Schuylkill River does have a nice population of American Eels, and those little fellas can easily drag your hooks into their holes, resulting in a nasty snag. Therefore, be attentive to fish bites and use bigger hooks for the Catfish. Leaving your rod unattended will certainly result in a bad snag.

I'll see all participants in two months. For those who are planning to participate -- best of luck for you guys!

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Leo S.