7th Catfish Tourney on the Banks (To be held on October 4th, 2015)

Hello, Blog Readers!

Today I'm bringing you guys the official post for the "7th Catfish Tourney on the Banks." All rules and regulations are below!

The 7th Catfish Tourney on the Banks will be held on the Schuylkill Banks on October 4th, 2015 (between Locust and Chestnut Streets). The rain date for it is October 11th, 2015.

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 you can see, there are plenty of parking spots close to the competition site. 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 7th 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:

I. The seventh official Catfish Tourney on the Banks will happen between the Locust St and Chestnut Bridge on the Schuylkill Banks. This will be the second and last Catfish tourney series for the year of 2015. The official date for the event is October 4th, 2015 (a Sunday). In case of rain or extreme weather, the "rain date" is set to be one week after -- October 11th, 2015. In case of cancellation, participants will be contacted through e-mail and by phone one day prior to the event. Also, an e-mail will be sent out to all registered participants one day prior to the competition as a "gentle reminder" of the same. Please make sure to check your e-mail on the day of the competition, before leaving your house!

II. Contestants may enter the competition "solo" or as a "team" of two individuals. In the second case, the team will still be treated as a single unit; therefore, each team will still be subjected to all rules as one unit (i.e. 2 rods per team; same weight 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. Note that teams pay extra $10 because "4 arms are better than 2." That makes a big difference when it comes to playing 2 fish simultaneously or landing/netting a fish. The fee will be collected right before the beginning of the competition, during the check-in. The check-in will be stationed under the Walnut street bridge; although, I may walk around for it as well. Please note that this friendly tourney is profit-free! For more details, see the prize section (section #3). 

III. Public transportation around the area is available (i.e. Amtrak, Regional Rails, and Septa) and highly recommended. The distance between the site of the competition and the station is a brief 10 minutes walk. As mentioned previously, there's parking along the Walnut and Chestnut bridges for vehicles, as well as parking around 26th and Locust streets. Here's a link for parking spots that are close to the Schuylkill Banks. 

IV. The minimum number of participants for this competition will be 15 individuals and teams combined altogether. If there are not enough participants a day prior to the competition, all registered competitors will be informed about its cancellation via e-mail and by phone call (if phone number is provided). Regardless, participants should check the Extreme Philly Fishing Facebook Page on the morning of the competition to see the latest updates about the event. Note that a higher number of participants results in a higher amount of cash prizes (see prize section; section #3)! Thus, feel free to invite your fishing buddies and/or family members to come. :) 

V. Instead of the traditional tourney format of 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. (9 hours total), the 6th Catfish Tourney on the Banks will start at 9 a.m. sharp and end at 3 p.m. sharp (a total of 6 fishing hours). It's highly recommended for participants to show up 1 hour to half an hour prior to the beginning of the event in order to set up equipment and pick a good spot on the banks! Note: no lines should be in the water before 9 a.m. sharp! Late registered participants will not be disqualified; however, they will clearly have a disadvantage in terms of time and fishing location. Thus, plan your schedule carefully.

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

VII. Since this is a friendly competition, participants are free to leave the site at any given moment. Also, there's a restroom and drinking fountain between the Locust and Walnut streets, on the Schuylkill Banks trail. There is also a Rite Aid on the intersection of 23rd and Walnut streets, just in case anyone needs additional water or food. There's also a breakfast place on the intersection of 24th and Locust streets that opens until 4 p.m. (they also do take out). In other words, if there are small emergencies, participants may leave and come back during the range of the competition (9-3 p.m.).

VIII. 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! Note that the registration form and liability waiver will be sent via e-mail once you contact me about the competition. For more information on it, please see section 2.

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). Consequently, that includes having a valid 2015 PA fishing license for anyone who is 16 years old or above (as emphasized below)!

I. Emphasizing: a PA fishing license is required for anyone who is older than the age of 15. The license must be shown at the check-in -- before the competition -- and be placed on an outer garment during the entire period of the tourney -- 9:00-3:00 p.m. (with the exception of the participant having a 2015 pink fishing button). The license can be purchased online or in certain local stores (i.e. Dicks Sporting goods, Walmart, or local Bait Shops -- Brinkmans bait and Tackle, Bob's bait and Tackle; Sportsmaster; etc). Don't forget to support your local tackle shops! Small businesses need your help. :)

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

III. Although the PA law states that it's legal to fish in Philadelphia using 3 rods per person and unlimited 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 section 1.B.IV below). A second time will result in disqualification and no refund.

IV. 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 fish is successfully landed. 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. Thus, choose your fishing spot carefully and note that you will have to walk longer distances if you are further away from the Walnut street bridge (which is to your disadvantage if you are playing solo). Also, 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 total bag! Therefore, make sure that you bring all of your Catfish catches. 

V. 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. As a matter of fact, Catfish in general are tough fish; therefore, there shouldn't be any major incidents! Please follow the appropriate guidelines for safely practicing CPR - "Catch, Photo Release."

VI. A net is highly recommended for landing big fish (drop net or 8-feet long net for the Schuylkill Banks). Believe me -- you do not want to take your chances by pulling a big fish by the line. Think it this way: that could take your winning chance away! Finally, note that high tide on October 4th will be at 7:03 a.m., and low tide at 2:15 p.m.. Again, a drop net or a 8-feet long net is highly recommended.

VII. Only Catfish will be counted as part of this tourney's weight bag. Thus, 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 (Ictalurus furcatus) in the Schuylkill River. Each participant must weight-in all of his/her Catfish catches from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.! The five biggest ones in terms of weight (lbs) will determine the final bag/result for given participant/unit. 

2. Registration

In order to register for this event, please send an e-mail to "sheng12182527@gmail.com" with "7th Catfish Tourney on the Banks" written on the subject line. Also, please write on the e-mail if you are registering yourself as "solo" ($20) or "team" ($30). Additional note: you will be asked to register on site if you have registered for a previous competition and were absent in it. Just like everything else in this world, trust is earned. As a reminder, the Catfish Tourney series only happens if there are 15 participants/teams registered prior to the beginning of the event, and you will not be counted among those 15 if you were registered and absent in a previous competition without a reasonable argument!

Once the initial e-mail is received, a proper response will be sent back in a range of 1-5 days. It will contain a formal Microsoft Word registration file (.docx) with the registration form and liability waiver. Once the competitor fills up the registration file and e-mails it back to me, the same will then 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! Finally, you will receive a confirmation e-mail indicating that your registration process is done.

On site registration will be available on Sunday, October 4th, from 8:00-9:00 a.m.. I'll be under the Walnut Street Bridge with printed registration forms. 

3. Results and Prizes

I. The prizes will be distributed for the following positions: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places, as well as the "Big Fish" prize (biggest Catfish of the day, in terms of weight and not length).

II. Note that the 7th Catfish Tourney on the Banks is a non-profit competition, meaning that Extreme Philly Fishing makes no money out of such an event! 20% of the total cash rendered will be donated to the SRDC non-profit organization, which focuses on maintaining a clean environment and trail for everyone. You can 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.

III. 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

Therefore, the minimum prize amount for the 6th 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=$120

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! 

4. Additional Information

Here's a list of "helpful tips" for every participant in the competition. If this is the first fishing competition of your life, you should take the information below in consideration.

Some of my YouTube videos portray Catfish from the Schuylkill River. If you have never been down there, this is a great source of information for you. :)

-- 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 the following: chicken liver, cut bait, live fish, soap, nightcrawler, bagel, bread, hot dogs, etc. Do not forget that Catfish in general are classified as bottom feeders. So, they find food mainly through their sense of smell (note: this concept doesn't entirely apply for Flathead Catfish). For more information on how to fish for Catfish, you may read my didactic Catfish post here.

-- Try different types of rigs: the idea that Catfish "always bite on the bottom" is a myth! Catfish will eat suspended baits that are close to the bottom! 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, depending on the time and season of the year! 

-- Never keep slack line. Unless you are fishing for the giants, slack line is never a good idea. By having slack line, you are basically giving the smaller fish enough time to chew on your bait and leave. The big ones can even swallow the hook, leading them to death! And the worst thing? You don't usually notice the bite if your line is slack! Therefore, I recommend the use of 1-2oz weights on the Schuylkill Banks and keeping a straight and tight line. 

-- Try different casting distances: somehow, most anglers believe that casting out there brings in bigger fish! Well...casting farther doesn't necessarily mean that. On the Banks, I've caught many 5-7lbers along the walls by simply dropping my line straight down! Soap is a killer bait for this technique, since American Eel (Anguilla rostrata) ignore it. If you use chicken liver or cut bait around the walls, soon you will get a snag. Why? Because the American Eel dragged your hook into 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 debris tend to concentrate in those areas. As mentioned above, the Schuylkill River does have a nice population of American Eel, 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 (Size #4 to 5/0). Leaving your rod unattended can certainly result in a bad snag.

Below are a couple photos of Catfish that were caught between Locust and Chestnut streets -- the site of the competition:

Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus):













Flathead Catfish (Pylodictis olivaris):




White Catfish (Ameiurus catus):

Note: this White Catfish measured 4.58lbs on the scale, only 0.04lbs smaller than the state record for the Bullhead Catfish Species (Ameiurus spp.)

I'll see all the participants in May! For those who are willing to participate -- best of luck for you guys!

Long Days and Pleasant Nights!


Leo S.


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