Every August, hundreds of fishermen, boaters and spectators descend on the tiny village of Bath, Illinois for a weekend of fun — and to try to catch the most invasive Asian carp.
Talking about climate change at ‘redneck’ fishing tournament
By Austin Keating and Becca Fanning
Every August since 2005, hundreds of fishermen, boaters and spectators descend on the tiny village of Bath, Illinois – population 333 – for a weekend of costume contests, live music and carp-catching. What began as a way to eradicate invasive Asian carp from the Illinois River has become a much-anticipated yearly reunion for fishing enthusiasts and carp-haters from around the country and the world.
In 2017, the race to net the most Asian carp in four separate heats resulted in a catch of more than 2,700 of the fish. Teams sped after deep wakes produced by lead pontoon boats, which in turn caused carp to jump out of the water and into the nets of the sportsmen.
Bath stretches along a seven-mile branch of the Illinois River. Small houses back up against the river, the yards barely sitting above water level. In spring, the basements of these houses fill with water, the river overflows its banks, covering the grassy yards.
Long-time residents of the community and the sportsmen say they’ve seen the climate of their area shift, with more flooding and less snow than they grew up with.
We asked them for their thoughts on climate change. (Note: Expletive at 0:30.)