Catfish Pirates Gathering and Tournament Event Returns
Writer & Photographer / David Fennig
For the last nine years, Catfish Pirates, a group of local conservationists and fishing enthusiasts, have held an annual overnight competition to raise awareness for the health of our local waterways. Now, in partnership with the Veterans Association of America, they are raising funds to benefit veterans.
The founder of the Catfish Pirates, Roger Allen Dytmire Jr., says that in 2022 they raised just over $5,000 that went directly to the Veterans Association, and this year they are aiming to reach $10,000. Having grown the event from a few fishermen gathering to pursue their passion into a two-day gathering with hundreds of attendees and more than 140 sponsors, he is optimistic about the growth of the event. The group itself can be found on Facebook under the name Catfish Pirates, and has more than 3,000 active members.
“Our main concern is the health of the fish,” Dytmire says. “Commercial fishers catch [catfish] out of our public waterways and then sell them to these private pay lakes. Then people catch them over and over again until they die. That’s what we are trying to stop. It’s awful to see.”
It can be hard to get the public informed about a conservation issue that is often far from the public eye.
“People seem to think you can keep taking and taking and taking, and there will be no repercussions for it, and that’s furthest from the truth,” Dytmire says. “They did that with the buffalo. It’s the same kind of thing, just a different breed of animal. We have the Muncie Parks Department and Prairie Creek Reservoir Park working closely with us. The biggest thing I want is to get this event out in the public more, because a lot of people still don’t know that we are doing this.”
The event expanded its reach and impact last year when it partnered with the Veterans Association to start raising funds for local veterans. The money goes directly to veterans in the community, helping to put roofs on houses or pay off utility bills of struggling vets.
Along with the fishing tournament, the event includes a motorcycle ride that leaves from AMVETS Post 12 on Saturday morning at 10 a.m., and ends at the Prairie Creek beach area.
“We had 25 bikes last year come in, and it’ll be even more this year,” says John Reeder, Sons commander at AMVETS Post 12. “We are thinking out of the box to help veterans.”
The event is open to the public, and includes a hog roast dinner along with door prizes donated by sponsors and raffles. The tournament guarantees a first-place prize of $2,000, and offers both boat entry and bank entry options. The event takes place on Saturday, May 27 at Prairie Creek Reservoir Park, located at 7801 South County Road 560 East in Selma. More information can be found on Facebook in the Catfish Pirates group.