The Tidal Delaware River offers incredible opportunities for outdoor recreation. It’s waters entice paddlers and motorboaters alike. Several areas on the river are known for their excellent wildlife viewing. In 2014, the Bassmaster competition brought 37,000 fans to the river, and on Saturday, June 18, Cabela’s King Kat Tournament will be taking to the Delaware out of Chester, PA. Why are so many anglers flocking to the Tidal Trail? The Philadelphia Inquirer found out and wrote about the event in this excellent article:

“Your waterway there, the Delaware River, is super-good for the sport of catfishing,” says Darrell Van Vactor, operations manager at Kentucky-based King Kat USA.

“It’s a great location, central for a lot of people,” on a stretch of the Delaware that otherwise has limited public access, Eric Williams, a Cabela’s marketing manager, told me.

King Kat runs catfish tournaments sponsored and staffed by Cabela’s. Most are in the Midwest, or down South.

On Saturday, the King Kat “Tournament Trail” makes its only East Coast stop this year in Chester, where three dozen teams of catfishers from several states, and their motorboats, have registered for the daylong competition.

Boats will steer from the state pier at the foot of the bridge, by the Philadelphia Union soccer stadium, at 6:30 a.m. A “fishing rodeo” for kids under 13 (adult companions required) will run from 8 to 11 a.m. at Ethel Waters Park, 291 Edgmont Ave. Cabela’s will give out some rods. Zitner’s will pass out candy. Competitors will bring their five fattest live fish to the Harrah’s casino at the north end of town for weighing and awards at 4 p.m.

 

Homola will team with Mike Del Rossi at Saturday’s event. He says they are “strictly catch and release,” though Van Vactor says some fry and eat their extras. There are state guidelines limiting consumption of river fish, Homola notes, given the Delaware’s industrial history and lingering toxic elements, though he says the waters have cleared and produced more fish as industries shut and “crick” dams are cleared. Delaware River catfish don’t grow to teenager-sized Mississippi River proportions, Van Vactor acknowledges. But Chester is much more convenient for many current and potential anglers.

The 2012 tournament was suggested to Chester leaders by then-State Rep. Bryan Lentz (D., Delaware). “We contacted Cabela’s 18 months ago,” said Drake Nakaishi, the city’s economic-development director. “We wanted to create opportunities to get a positive story out about Chester.” The city located hotel space with secure boat parking and lined up business sponsors.

Rob Zarko, who lives in Wallingford and owns Ship Bottom Brewery in Beach Haven, is giving contestants beer. He told me he’s scouting Chester as a site for a second brewery.

“It’s not a big economic engine in itself; it won’t drive a lot of sales,” Nakaishi acknowledges. “But we want people to see what the city is, and the attraction of Chester’s waterfront.”

 

Find out more about the event here.