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Bowfishing Tournament Debuts in Central Illinois

The Flying Fish Festival kicks off tomorrow morning with a bowfishing tournament.

EAST PEORIA A new fishing tournament is happening this weekend and has a big goal to help get rid of the Asian Carp, making so much trouble in the Illinois River.

It’s central Illinois’ first Flying Fish festival and bowfishing tournament.

Teams were already starting to show up Friday night to get their boats inspected for tomorrow’s competition.

The tournament gets started tomorrow morning at 5 a.m.

The Illinois River is still pretty high, and one local bowfisher said the height of the river is a twist the competitors are just going to have to deal with.

 "Man, it's just not happening today, very much," Capt. Zach Nayden said.

The Illinois River is still high after a wet June, which means the Asian Carp, also known as silver carp, are not jumping as much.

"I know the silvers are the big attraction, obviously, because they are more exciting and fun to shoot at, but I think the tournament is going to be won in the backwaters," Nayden said.

It will be a fierce competition Saturday.

Nayden said traditional bowfishers are going to have an advantage for the tournament. They won't have to rely on the fish to jump out of the water.

But those jumping fish are the reason Nayden and some East Peoria city officials wanted to bring the tournament to central Illinois.

"We're trying to break into a different market to make these fish, you know, turn them from a nuisance into a viable commodity," he said.

Bowfishers from all over the Midwest are competing for the first time here Saturday, but Nayden hopes they will all keep coming back, along with many others.

"We're going to keep pushing it, and hopefully it becomes a yearly thing, and hopefully maybe put Peoria on the map for something a little more unorthodox i guess,” he said.

More than 30 teams are scheduled to compete tomorrow with four people per team.

It is a "Big 20 Format," which means a team’s 20 biggest fish will be weighed.

The weigh-in is at two in the afternoon at Bass Pro, and the first place prize: two-thousand-five-hundred-dollars.

There is also a net fishing tournament for fun from 9 a-m to 1 p-m tomorrow with the final count at two. This competition is based on the number of fish, not the weight.

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