The Halifax Volunteer Fire Department held their 19th annual fishing tournament last weekend at Staunton River State Park.

This years tournament was rescheduled from the original date back in May due to COVID-19 but that didn’t stop a record 93 boats from participating in the event.

Fire department member Wendy Jones said that they were unsure how well the tournament would do due to COVID-19, but they were thrilled with the turnout. “This was the biggest tournament we have had in 19 years,” Jones said.

Each year the tournament averages about 45 boats that participate, and they have had as many as 60, but the 93 that participated over the weekend was by far the largest number they have ever had.

With the fishing tournament being the main fundraiser for the fire department they also sold food at the event and sold raffle tickets to give away prizes that were donated by local businesses. That is along with the entry fees for the participants to fish.

Jones said that they pay back 70% to the winners of the tournament. This year first place won 40%, second place 20% and third 10%. This year Jones estimated that first place won close to $2,000 for the winning fish.

Richard Hamlett, Jason Lloyd and Andrew McCann were the first place winners in the tournament, bringing in a 42.60-pound blue catfish. A.J. Price won second place with a 38.10 flat, and Tyler Slabach and Craig Roberts reeled in a 36.90-pound flat for third place.

The rules for the tournament were fish had to be caught by boat and participants were allowed to have as many fishing rods on the boat as well as fisherman as long as it was deemed safe. Fisherman were only allowed to turn in one fish to be weighed at the end of the event.

Johnathan Kirland is a sports writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him Follow him on Twitter @JohnathanK_GV