Chester River Catfish Invitational draws hundreds

Ben Herr, right, presents his hand-crafted catfish trophy, and congratulations, to Chester River Catfish Invitational winner Doug Riordan of Centreville, Md. Jeff Newell, left, served as master of ceremonies for the event. BY DENNIS FORNEY
September 3, 2012

Hundreds of anglers aboard at least 60 boats crowded for space on the upriver side of the Chester River Bridge on Maryland's Upper Eastern Shore at noon on Sunday. With an outgoing tide draining the river, captains worked their anchors to put fishermen close to the concrete bridge structure where lunker catfish cool in the shadows.  The goal?  Catch the day's biggest catfish and head home $1,500 richer than when the Fifth Annual Chester River Catfish Invitational started at 5 a.m. Sept. 2. Weigh-in on the banks of the river started at 1 p.m. so the last-minute rush to the bridge offered the last chance for many of the anglers to cash in.

When tourney founder Ben Herr finished weighing entries by about 2 p.m., he pronounced Centreville, Maryland's Doug Riordan as grand champion with an 11-pound two-ounce channel cat.  Kim Hall won bragging rights with the largest fish caught on an all-female vessel while Dutch Nickerson and Hill Peace found themselves in the money for, respectively,  the junior 10-15 and under-10 divisions.

It's safe to say anglers pulled nearly a ton of catfish out of the Chester using baits and chum ranging from oatmeal, steamed shrimp and peeler crabs to clam snouts, buggies (also known as menhaden) and yellow perch. Most of the fish were stashed in coolers to be given to catfish aficionadoes throughout Kent and Queen Anne's counties.