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Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Fishermen hooked on carp

Anglers hope to catch the big prize in Get the Carp Outta Here tournament

By William Kincaid

Rick Cox, left, and Joe Wright on Friday prepare to fish during this weekend's G. . .

CELINA - Carp fishermen Rick Cox and Joe Wright practice their own form of CPR - catch, photograph and release.
But this weekend, the two men are willing to keep as many of the rough fish as they can in an attempt to win money and prizes as part of the three-day Get the Carp Outta Here tournament on Grand Lake.
"We're coming here to take your money and help out," said Cox with a smile.
The tournament is part of a multi-faceted effort to improve the lake's water quality. Rough fish such as carp excrete phosphorus and stir up sediment in the bottom of the lake. Phosphorus feeds the toxic algae that has plagued Grand Lake for years.
The 54-year-old truck driver, and Wright, 42, fish exclusively for carp throughout Ohio. The pair love the thrill of catching the large fish, which they normally release back into the water so others can have the same experience.
"They get big and they fight hard," said Cox.
The Hamilton resident said carp have a processing tube instead of a stomach, which allows them to essentially eat non-stop and grow large. State officials estimate by weight as much as 90 percent of the fish in Grand Lake are rough.
"He's got a 40-pounder under his belt," Wright said about Cox, known as River Rick to his fishing buddies.
Carp fisherman are more likely to catch more and larger fish than other anglers, Cox said.
The sport is increasing in popularity around the world. The pair recently took two Englishmen fishing for carp.
Carp can coexist with other sought-after fish; but when the watery environment gets out of balance - like at Grand Lake - they become a problem, according to Cox.
"You got too many," Cox said.
The two heard about this weekend's tournament from a friend in Columbus and scouted the lake last weekend to find a good spot with quick access to the water from their vehicles. The two found a spot in West Bank Park, where they caught 10, 8-10 pound carp. They returned to the same spot on Friday.
"It's a beautiful lake," Cox said.
Equipped with European rods and reels designed for carp fishing and 20 to 30 gallons of bait, the two set up and settled in for the weekend. They plan to fish for hours both day and night. The tournament concludes at 5 p.m. Sunday.
The standard bait among carp enthusiasts is chum - a compacted ball of grounded corn placed over a weight.
"Chum and they will come," Cox said.
They also add their own special ingredients discovered through trial-and-error. Wright keeps a 200 gallon aquarium at home to study the fish and test various ingredients.
The duo brought a meat grinder to process the corn. They compress two to three ounces of ground corn around a river-rock on a hair-rig, which also contains a small hook. The concoction hangs from a 15-pound fishing line.
The chum slowly dissolves in the water and the carp are caught by the hook. The anglers also will dispense food 70 to 80 feet around their fishing area to lure the carp.
The men are members of a national non-profit advocacy organization called Carp Anglers Group, which facilitates several family-friendly tournaments in Ohio.
Though their wives don't join them on fishing trips, they support their hobby and help them pack for their weekend sojourns.
"They know we're not running around," Cox said.
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