Combat Fishing, Redneck Style

The Redneck Fishing Tournament takes on Asian carp.

They storm the river, armed with only nets and baseball bats. They’re not after zombies or some sort of swamp creature. This is the Redneck Fishing Tournament in Bath, Illinois, and they’re fighting a jumpy invasive species called the silver Asian carp.

“The Redneck is our way to get rid of these stupid fish,” said Betty deford, who owns Bath’s Boat Tavern. She came up with the idea after the electric impulses from her boat’s motor caused a rainstorm of carp.

“There were so many jumping, they almost sunk us,” she recalled. The carp also eat the same algae favored by baitfish that local gamefish feed upon, decimating native fish populations. So in 2005, the Boat Tavern hosted the first Redneck — no rods, just nets and bats (protective gear recommended). Five boats took 200 fish that year. Word got out. In 2011, 5,000 people showed, and more than 200 boats took on the carp.