ARCADIA, Kan. - The Thursday night catch-and-release tournaments at Bone Creek Reservoir between Fort Scott and Pittsburg provide an opportunity for anglers and youngsters alike to practice social distancing, get outdoors, and have some fun.
The usually weekly Bone Creek Tournaments took a few weeks off due to stay-at-home orders, but with some input from officials, has returned. While May 7’s event only saw 24 boats due to weather concerns, the tournament had been seeing up to 35 boats, an increase over last year.
For those who’ve been to one of the weekly tournaments before, but not this year, organizer Kevin Shaffer said a few procedural changes have been made to help with safety. In the past, participants frequently met to chit-chat both before and after the tournament while competitors put their boats in the lake.
Participants still meet at Rocky Point Boat Ramp (N 200th St on the south end of the lake), but they now meet organizers at the road. After registering and paying the entry fee, one at a time participants are directed to immediately put their boat in the water.
Afterward, if they don’t have a fish, they load up immediately and are not allowed to wait around in the parking lot. If they do have a fish, Shaffer personally takes the fish, weights it, and returns it so that it can be released back into the lake.
"They're going to go fishing anyway,” Shaffer said. “We're controlling them, and these guys know if they don't follow procedure, I'll ban them. They know I’m a stickler on rules and that's what made this so popular for 40 years.”
While the entry fee is $10 per person, kids 12 and under with an adult fish free.
Shaffer said that is intentional, because they want to encourage more kids to get out and fish, while also recognizing the preservation efforts and seeing the beauty of the outdoors in the area.
“If a child catches the biggest fish, he or she gets the winning money, I don't care if its a 5-year-old,” Shaffer said. “We've got to get these kids involved.”
The Thursday tournaments meet at Rocky Point Boat Ramp at Bone Creek Reservoir, about 16 miles north of Downtown Pittsburg. Registration begins at 3 p.m. The tournament begins at 6 p.m. Entry is $10 per person, while 12 & under fish for free with an adult. Boats are required to have an aerated live well.
For more and update information, visit bonecreektournaments.com. They also have a Facebook Group – Bone Creek Tournaments.