Calvert County’s 2nd Annual #DOITFORROPER Catfish Tournament

This is the weigh-in station. Pictured is the basket from the winner of the bag of 5.

This is the weigh-in station. Pictured is the basket from the winner of the bag of 5.

Ashley Whitley

After waiting weeks for the day to come, it is finally here. A busy and chaotic weekend of slippery, oozy, thick fish. It’s a beautiful, perfect day out and everyone is so excited.



Friday, March 18th from 6 pm to 8 pm, and Saturday, March 19th at 7 am, we had the in-person registrations. A small number of people showed up because most people registered online. We had 3 tables set up, one was for the in-person registration, the second was to get your booklet and weigh-in time, and the third was to buy bait. The bait we were selling was shad, a sport fish, for $5.00 each. They are very slimy, wide fish that are very good to use as bait. In total, 164 people registered.


The Day of…

Grill Sergeant’s food Trailer.

Saturday, March 19th, was the day of the tournament. At 8 am, everyone who entered the tournament was supposed to drop in their lines. From 8:00 am – 2:30 pm is when everyone relaxed before people started arriving for weigh ins. In the meantime, some people were playing cornhole, or sitting around talking, and the little kids were playing on the jungle gym. For the hungry fishers who were on the water all day, Grill Sergeant’s Food Trailer was provided. Grill Sergeant’s food is very delicious and very tasty! As Bo Brady says, “Put some south in your mouth.”

2:30 rolls around and people are starting to show up.



This is the weigh-in station. Pictured is the basket from the winner of the bag of 5.

I worked with four others at the weigh-in station. Meanwhile, Colby Ireland and Jeremy Simpson were taking laundry baskets and filling them with one fish or five fish. Each contestant had a choice depending on how many fish they caught if they wanted to weigh in a single fish, which was their biggest fish, or if they wanted to do a bag of five, or they could do both. From there, we were writing the scores on a paper. We had to write the contestant’s name, the weight of the biggest fish, and depending on which category they were in, only adult boaters were allowed to do the bag of 5 weigh ins. Then, they had to sign their name at the bottom due to the complications from last year. In the end, the biggest fish weighed 29.38 pounds. The heaviest bag of five was 71.92 pounds, almost 80 pounds!

We did run into some issues with a few people trying to “cheat.” You can definitely tell when someone catches a fish off a trot line instead of catching a fish with a fishing rod and a hook. A group of people came in to weigh-in and they put the fish in the basket, and we did not notice it. When we took it over to the cleaning station, one of the guys who was cleaning fish noticed the big hole in the fish’s mouth, which looked like it was caught with a grapple hook. One of the hosts confronted the guy about it and the contestant asserted, “That’s from the hook when we caught it.” Even though the situation was a little sketchy, we still let him compete in the tournament.

Other than that set of circumstances, the day went on to be an outstanding and fortunate tournament.


Gutting And Cleaning the Fish

This was at the gutting and cleaning station, 6 fish ready to be cleaned.

Underneath a tent wrapped around with tarps (with one opening in the back) was where they were slaying the fish for the fish cleaners to filet. After Robert Whitley slaughtered fish, he would throw them in a cooler and the 3 fish cleaners, Jerry Denton, Shawn Clifton, and another individual, would come grab at least 4 at a time and bring them on the other side of that tent. On that side of the tent there were 4 tables set up underneath another tent, but this tent wasn’t covered. This was the cleaning and filet station. People had the option to get their fish cleaned so they could take them home with them or donate them to Sunday’s fish fry. One of the individuals working at this station was teaching some of the kids how to fillet fish, which was really outstanding and nice of them to do so. Over 200 pounds of fish filets were donated.

This was under the tent where Robert Whitley was slaughtering the fish so that the cleaners could gut them and filet them.
The gutting and cleaning station.













The Fish Fry

Sunday, March 20th was the ceremony for the awards and the fish fry. Since we got there 2 hours late there was barely enough time to soak the filets in saltwater and still have time to start cutting them up for the event. So, we had to compromise and soak everything. We cut filets into nuggets, then put them back into the bowls to soak. Soon, we started running out of time, so we just started frying fish, only to realize that the fryer wasn’t on the whole time (even though the fire house said it was). Everyone was rushing around the kitchen trying to figure out what was going on with the fryer. Finally, we got the fryer on, and we started frying fish. Some of the people were getting very annoyed with the other volunteers because they were rushing everyone to get things done because people kept ordering to go.

Everyone helped cut the fish and cook the food.

As people started showing up, we finally had enough fried fish so people could get a plate. A plate was $12.00 each. The plate included fish nuggets, whole buttered and garlic potatoes, green beans sautéed in bacon fat with butter, and a roll. There was also a dessert table on the side that had carrot cake, red velvet cake, regular golden cake with chocolate icing, blueberry muffins, and an Oreo cake. There was even a DJ, raffle games, and cornhole. As it was getting closer to 1:00 pm, people had already found their way to their table with their plate of food.

Families outside playing cornhole.
Families and friends at the fish fry patiently waiting for the award ceremony to begin.

Ceremony And Awards

The first place winners for Bag of 5, they caught 71.92 pounds!

It was now time for the awards. Since the competition was split into 6 different categories, more people had the chance to win a prize. Coming in first place for adult boater single fish was 29.38 pounds. The look on the man’s face was delightful as he walked through the crowded firehouse to get his prize, smiling from ear to ear, and happiness filling his face. For adult boater with a bag of 5 fish, the winner coming in first place was 71.92 pounds. For child boaters who could only do a single fish, first place winner, Tyler Droneberger, caught a fish that weighed 19.92 pounds. For adult shore fishing (they were also single fish only) 12.18 pounds came in first place. Then for the child shore single fish only, first place winner was 9.12 pounds. Last but not least, the kayak single fish category, coming in first place, and the only one who participated in the kayak category, was 8.9 pounds. Even though he was the only one who was in the kayak category, he was still very happy to win the prize. “Watching the winners walk up on stage with smiles drawn on their face was very heartfelt and exciting,” Bo Brady states.

Tyler Droneberger, first place winner for child boater.

For the adult boater category, the bag of 5 first place winner won $681. The adult boater single fish winner prize was $681 as well. For adult shore single fish, the first place winner won $325. For child shore single fish, the winner won $163. Child boater single fish winners won $175. Finally, for kayak single fish, the winner won $25. The winners for adult boater category and kayak donated their winning prizes back to charity! Overall, this tournament raised $2,050 for charity, and $1,025 for Birthright of Prince Fredrick and $1,025 for Calvert Hospice. In total this tournament raised $4,100.

This tournament is a fun charity, and I would highly recommend participating in it next year and the years to come! I’m sure everyone had a blast and can’t wait until next year!