Renowned angler, host speaks at Rotary Club; gives preview of upcoming catfish tourney

Published 11:28 am Saturday, April 20, 2024

The Bill Dance Mississippi River Monsters catfish tournament will make its return to Vicksburg this summer and the event’s namesake was in the River City Thursday.

Speaking to the Vicksburg Rotary Club, Dance – a renowned fisherman and the host of Bill Dance Outdoors show – told Rotarians he is excited to bring the tournament back to town.

A native of St. Louis, Dance said he has fished many waterways in his lifetime, but few compare to the Mississippi River.

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 “Today I want to mention another waterway that does the same on a much bigger scale,” Dance said of fishing in lakes and rivers in Tennessee. “The storied Mississippi River here in Vicksburg. The mighty Mississippi: There’s so much to say about it, but the thing I noticed about it on my first trip here was the kind people. A very, very warm welcome.”

Dance said the tournament bearing his name chose the Mississippi River for its many attributes, but singled out Vicksburg as a special spot to drop anchor.

“I do a lot of catfishing,” Dance said. “But catfishing on this body of water is about as good as you can get, right here in Vicksburg. What makes it so good is how and where the slow and fast currents run past Vicksburg.”

Dance said catching catfish that run anywhere from 50 to 80 pounds is not uncommon in the deep Mississippi River waters near Vicksburg.

 Dance added that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates there are as many as 10 million “avid” catfishers in the United States.

“And each of them have heard about Vicksburg” he said.

And that number could increase, he added, by being featured on Bill Dance Outdoors, which airs 12-to-18 times per episode in markets across the country.

 “And it talks about the river,” Dance said of his show. “It talks about the community; it talks about the city.”

In addition to the show, Dance said he boasts around 2.5 million followers on social media, all of whom are primed to hear about Vicksburg thanks to the upcoming tournament.

“I think what makes this area so great for catfishing is the number of arteries and small tributaries and big rivers that flow into this fertile body of water,” he said. “It’s an ideal location. And we love to report on the new places that generate tourism, and your area is a mighty good one. Me, personally, I think it can become one of America’s hotspots.”

This year’s tournament is scheduled to be held July 27-28, with a purse of $200,000, double last year’s. Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Laura Beth Strickand said the 50 teams already registered for this year’s tournament are coming over from the 2023 event, adding she thinks 2024 will bring even bigger success, due to a few changes in the schedule.

“It’s been moved up a week this year,” Strickand said, “So that should be a good week and since it’s moved back into the summer they think people will be able to bring their families and it won’t be just the fishermen.”

“This section (of the river) right here, it seems like the farther south we’ve gone, the better catfish we get,” Dance said. “And everyone talks about Vicksburg. I hear it all the time. And when we shoot a show here, we want people to know about your fine city.”

For more information on how to become involved in this year’s tournament, visit