The 3rd Annual #DOITFORROPER Catfish Tournament 


Catfish tournament logo

The early sun is coming up and the river is smooth like glass. Eight thirty am comes around and you’re dropping lines in the water waiting for the end of the fishing rod to tug down. “FISH ON” – you reel it in fighting the slimy beast, struggling, questioning your strength as the fish fights the hook. Finally, it is reeled enough to bring the fish onto the boat. The blue catfish definitely put up a fight.

Another year, another Saturday. On March 25, 2023, at Benedict Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, Jeff Cunningham and Bo Brady hosted this year’s third annual catfish tournament. It was a twenty-five-dollar entry fee with online or in person registration. Fifty percent of the proceeds benefit Calvert Hospice. Mud shad was sold as bait the night before and the morning of the tournament. The tournament raised over two thousand dollars and one thousand three hundred and fifty dollars went to Calvert Hospice. There were eighty-four adult boaters, thirteen adult shore fishing, six child shore fishing, and ten child boaters. Over two hundred pounds of fresh catfish filets were delivered to the St Francis DeSales Food Pantry.

The catfish people were donating or getting cleaned (Ashley Whitley)

For the heaviest fish in the adult boater category, the winners were Andrew Kosa, Travis Barry, and DJ Windsor. Kosa won first place with a catfish weighing thirty-seven pounds and ten point five ounces. Barry won second place with a catfish weighing thirty-three pounds and thirteen ounces. And coming in third place DJ Windsor with a catfish that weighed thirty pounds and five point five ounces. Heaviest fish for child boaters, went to Tyler Droneberger, Baylee Dempsey, and Braden Smith.  Droneberger won first place with a catfish weighing twenty-one pounds and five ounces. Coming in second place, Baylee Dempsey brings in a catfish weighing nineteen pounds and seven ounces. Lastly, Braden Smith came in third place with a catfish weighing sixteen pounds and zero point five ounces.

Andrew Kosa with his winning catfish! (Ashley Whitley)
Baylee Dempsey with the second-place child boater catfish! (Ashley Whitley)

In the Chesapeake Bay, blue catfish are considered an invasive species. They have expanded their range and population so much that they are more likely to create a huge negative impact affecting the Bay ecosystem because they eat so many native species, such as striped bass, blue crab, shad, herring, and Atlantic sturgeon.

Jeff Cunningham and his wife Angela Cunningham learning how to clean fish (Ashley Whitley)

The tournament had two tents set up. One for weigh-ins and one for donating fish or getting your fish fileted for you. As one of the volunteers there, I got stuck battering the fish with Lauren Comer, another host. Along with two fish cleaners, Jeff Cunningham and his wife Angela Cunningham were doing weigh-ins. The weigh-in tent was weighing the fish that were brought in to get the results of the winners and then the anglers were told to take their fish to the cleaning tent to either donate their fish or if they wanted to, get their fish cleaned.




Overall, this was a fun and exciting experience for everyone who attended and volunteered. A fourth tournament is in the works for the fall and/or next year. I would recommend signing up and entering for the tournament to experience the fun!

The cleaning tent where the fish cleaners clean the fish the anglers donated or wanted to get their fish fileted for them (Ashley Whitley)