Nine years of battling carp in the Illinois River

By Joe Bennett

August 4, 2013 Updated Aug 4, 2013 at 10:48 PM CDT

BATH, Ill -- The Redneck Fishing Tournament has hooked another successful year for depleting the number of Asian carp in the Illinois River.

Although last year's tournament brought more than 10,000 fish out of the water, this year's less impressive number still helped the fight against the flying fish.

Nine years ago Betty DeFord and her husband took some friends on their 16-foot boat to show them the then-recent invasion of Asian carp in the Illinois River.

"We were going to show them these stupid fish that jump in the boat, you know out of the water, and we ran into a school of them and we ended up almost swamping our 16-foot jon boat,” DeFord recalls. “We couldn't get out of them."

After fighting them off, DeFord says they still had 38 fish in the boat, and as she put it, "The war was on."

"And that's how it started,” explains DeFord. “We had just one little tournament, and we called it the Redneck Fishing Tournament, and we went out with five people that time and they caught 100 fish or 200 fish in an hour's time."

In less than a decade, the tournament has lured fishermen from all over America to net more than 8,000 Asian carp this year alone.

Every Sunday after the carp are captured to be turned to fertilizer, the tournament continues for kids who want to carry on the family tradition of fishing along the shores of Bath.

"It's pretty fun,” says 12-year-old Kolby Shaw. “The last time I was here, like two years ago, you couldn't even walk down here without tripping on someone's pole."

DeFord says the relief of angling something other than some type of Asian carp is short-lived.

She says the tournament is popular, but it barely makes a dent on the unwanted carps' population.

"You go out there fishing; you only catch more silver carp that are jumping in your boat than what you are the native fish that we have."

DeFord says she'll continue to cast the carp away each summer, doing her part to fight the battle against the flying fish that are flooding these waters full of family tradition.

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