Bayview resident Chad Cadnum pulled off what his friend and Bayview celebrity Ralph Jones had done for more than a decade before passing the torch.
Jones died last spring and his OktoberFish big rainbow tournament, an area staple for 14 years, was in jeopardy of passing too.
Cadnum, though, wouldn’t let that happen.
So, when Sunday rolled around Cadnum was there to congratulate the winners of this year’s tournament and assure anglers and townspeople that — just as this autumn — the tournament will go on.
“It’s really a tribute to Ralph Jones,” Cadnum said this week, after closing ceremonies and photographs that culminated, officially, the latest chapter of OktoberFish.
“It’s hard to believe it’s over,” Cadnum said. “What a huge weekend it was for everyone out fishing.”
This year’s turnout of 120 adult anglers and 20 youths was the largest in history, and so was the payout.
Matt Blackstone earned first place honors with a 23.16-pound Kamloops rainbow. He won $5,000 for his efforts. James Chapman took second place with a 20.14-pound fish and Ethan Downing placed third with a 17.52-pound rainbow. Second and first place finishers earned $3,500 and $2,500 respectively.
The fishing started out slow and the rainy weather added to a grinding, dreary and gray beginning, but before the first day was over the skies had cleared and Downing’s 31-inch fish was in first place.
With his catch, Chapman pulled into first place.
Cadnum, wanting the tournament to post more stellar results, more indicative of the size of fish he knew were out there, gave a little prayer to his pal, Ralph Jones, for a blessing of sorts.
“I just asked Bayview Ralph for a fish bigger than 22 pounds,” Cadnum said.
And it happened.
Blackstone’s 23-plus rainbow is the biggest yet in the tournament’s history.
“We have a new record as far as the biggest fish ever weighed in during the derby,” Cadnum said. “Very impressive.”
Cadnum, who isn’t a fisherman, but who has worked as a derby volunteer since the event began, wanted to thank a couple people in particular for their help in this year’s OktoberFish.
“To Calvin Nolan, I appreciate everything you did,” Cadnum said. And a special thanks was reserved for the man who started it, and was there in spirit, he said.
“Ralph lives on through great memories and I am proud to make it happen, year after year, for such a great community.”
Youth A Class winners included: 1st Place, Ashlynn McCorkle, 2nd Place, Issac White, 3rd Place, Sammantha Day. Youth B Class: 1st place, Jacey Chapman, 2nd place, Caylee Laybourne, 3rd place, Madison Clary.