DIXON – It was about 5 p.m. Saturday when a light rain started to fall on the Rock River. The boats and pick-ups and people all started clearing out of Page Park.
The announcement had been made, and it was official: For the second year in a row, Joe Dyer and Dan Dippel were taking home the big money – $4,500 – in the Cabela’s King Kat Tournament Super Event in Dixon.
The first-place winners, from Rock Falls and Ottawa, respectively, have been competing in the catfish tournament since it started in 2009, and they’ve placed in all but one year.
This year, over the course of 2 days, their fish weighed in at 72.50 pounds, and they caught about 15 total, though only 10 of them could be counted in the final weigh-in. Of the final 10, Dyer and Dippel brought in three channel catfish and two flathead catfish on Friday, and two flathead catfish and three channel catfish on Saturday.
The second-place team of Brock Law, of Rock Falls, and Aaron Schrader, of Sterling, trailed by just 1.98 pounds – all the edge Dyer and Dippel needed to win.
The tournament champs had been fishing in shallow water, they said, about 6 to 9 feet deep, hanging around near tress and other underwater structure south along the river, near Moline. Competitors could fish anywhere on the Rock between Oregon and Milan.
Dyer has been a guide on the Rock River for more than 20 years. Once, he said, he caught a 73-pounder in 2005 near Lyndon.
He caught a few big fish Saturday, too. Well, almost. Two 30-pounders got away, he said.
The next biggest fish the duo caught weighed in at 23.02 pounds, the third largest fish caught during the tournament.
The total purse for the tournament was $11,800, with the top nine teams earning payouts, and the top 25 teams qualifying for the Western Championships in the Quad Cities this fall.
The 2-day event also included a Cabela’s King Kat Kids event Saturday at the weigh-in site in Page Park.
The top nine teams in the 2-day King Kat Tournament along the Rock River split the purse of $11,800. They were:
1st: Joe Dyer, of Rock Falls, and Dan Dippel, of Ottawa (72.50 pounds; $4,500)
2nd: Brock Law, of Rock Falls, and Aaron Schrader, of Sterling (70.52; $2,200)
3rd: Dustin Westbrook, of Rock Falls, and Phil Westbrook, of Dixon (65.90; $1,200)
4th: Stan Bennett, of Kingston, and John Rudecki, of Stillman Valley (59.50; $500)
5th: Tom and Clint Walker, of Sterling (51.42; $500)
6th: Larry Morine, of Erie, and Ray Graham, of Fenton (47.22; $400)
7th: Matt Jones, of Prophetstown, and Cru Scridner, of Polo (43.42; $400)
8th: Robert Clapper, of Peoria, and Taylor Richards, of Rock Falls (42.06; $400)
9th: Jeremy and Cory Diehl, of Milledgeville (41.48; $400)
Big Fish: Dustin Westbrook, of Rock Falls, and Phil Westbrook, of Dixon (25.20; $1,270)