BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A gray morning with a bleak forecast pushed the 1st ever Dan Meyer Memorial Catfish tournament back a day, but that didn’t stop anglers from coming from as far as Wisconsin to pull channel cat from Pool 19 Sunday morning.
The first annual Dan Meyer Memorial tournament was met with some biting winds on the Mississippi, but more than 80 anglers showed up for a 7 a.m. start.
Annie Meyer, who helped put the tournament together with her husband Calvin, said the event raised a total of just under $2,000 for the fishing portion alone. There was also a free-will fish fry at the Eagles Club in Fort Madison where awards were given out and a raffle was held with proceeds going to help Dan’s son Easton. Calvin is Dan’s brother. Dan died unexpectedly this summer.
Dan was survived by his wife Shayla and their son.
Shayla said she was happy with the event turn out.
“This is awesome,” Shayla said as boats were waiting in line to ramp out of the river at about 12:45. “His brother Calvin put this together with his wife Annie and the turnout was just amazing. I didn’t think we’d get 40 teams and we did and that’s just so cool with the weather being the way it was.”
Annie said the family started planning the tournament in September and were hopeful for a strong turnout.
“We had a tournament at about this same time last year and it went over pretty well. It was just thrown together at the last minute, but we knew from that one that would could get a good turnout this year,” Meyer said.
The tournament was originally set for Saturday morning, but was postponed due to the inclement weather forecast for Saturday morning. But Sunday morning came, and after Carthage’s McKenna Merritt belted out the National Anthem, boaters took to the Mississippi River pool and Skunk River for six hours of fishing.
“We only had one team that couldn’t make it because of the weather because they had something else planned for the day. We had two other teams that couldn’t get their motor running so they weren’t able to go out,” Meyers said.
Each team paid a $40 entry fee and the score sheet showed 40 teams on the river. With additional monies donated by sponsors, the total raised was $1,920. Area fishing companies and businesses ponied up prizes and raffle items. $5 of each entry went to the biggest fish pot, which was inflated by business donations.
The top 3 teams were paid for total weight of five fish. There was even a $100 prize for the smallest fish weighed in. All fish had to be alive at weigh-in.
Annie said the family wanted to make the tournament an annual event.
“We’re trying to make it a yearly event,” she said. “We’d like to keep it going and next year we’d like to add a kids’ tournament out here. Hopefully we’ll get a little better weather next year.”
Mike Kuehl of Lindon, Ill., said it was the first time he’d been in this area for a tournament. Kuehl and his teammate Kassi took third place overall with 32.2 lbs of fish.
“It was our first time being down here, but we did alright,” Kuehl said. It was very windy, though.”
The biggest fish was caught by Annie at 12.7 lbs. Second place overall went to Ryan Daniel, Troy Hanson, and Ken Miller at 40.2 lbs. Calvin and Annie had the most weight overall with 45.1 lbs of channel cat. The two donated a portion of their winnings to the two teams that traveled the farthest.