Wednesday, June 1st, 2011
Luring lake visitors
Tournament aims to 'Get Carp Outta Here,' create fun
By Nancy Allen
GRAND LAKE - Celina resident Milt Miller remembers as a boy using a pitch fork and cherry bombs to catch carp for derbies on Grand Lake in the 1950s.
Though explosives aren't allowed anymore, this weekend's Get the Carp Outta Here tournament should still be a blast, he said.
Event organizers want to accomplish two things: bring people to the lake for an enjoyable weekend and reduce the amount of rough fish.
"Most importantly we want a fun day at the lake," Miller said. "As most people know, the last two years have been very strenuous so we need to bring back the fun."
Water advisories from algae blooms the last two summers have reduced visitation, poisoned business profits and dampened the lake community's spirit.
Anglers will vie for more than $2,000 in cash and prizes during the three-day event that starts Friday. Cash prizes for the largest and most carp caught each 24 hours and total tournament prizes will be awarded. Youth participants will compete for prizes in their own category and hundreds of dollars in door prizes will be given away in a random drawing.
"It will be a hoot," said Dan Manning, a community member helping to plan the event. "It's already bringing people to town that aren't the average fisherman, the guys who bow hunt for these fish ... it will be a different breed of fisherman we're attracting and get to see."
Manning said tournament participants with special rigs and boats have been visiting the lake for weeks to scope good spots. He even sold one a boat motor. He's fielded many calls from people wanting to know the rules and how to register.
Once participants and visitors get to town, they often spend money at local gas stations, restaurants and stores.
"It could be bigger than we think," he said.
Professional carp anglers often consist of a team of two to four people, some of them armed with bows and arrows.
"One guy drives the boat and the other guy or guys shoots from the boat," Manning said. "Their boats are set up with lights on the front so they can night fish ... they're really into it."
Once the tournament starts, participants may fish for 24 hours before each 5 p.m. weigh-in. Participants may use spears or traditional rod and reel to land carp.
The tournament is not a catch and release event, Manning noted. The event was planned to reduce the amount of rough fish.
Studies show that reducing rough fish can improve water quality. Their waste contains phosphorous, algae's main food source, and they continually uproot aquatic habitat and re-suspend phosphorous from the lake bottom. They also increase the water's murkiness and make it hard for game fish to find food.
Carp are overly abundant in the 13,500-acre lake; state officials estimate by weight as much as 90 percent of the fish in the lake are rough.
Miller said he remembers packs of kids wading into the lake, spearing carp and loading them into gunny sacks tied to their waists. A lot of kids buried the carp they caught in their parents' vegetable gardens as fertilizer, he said.
"Back then it was a fun event to get carp out of the lake, and the state would bring in dump trucks to strategic locations and they'd take the fish," Miller said. "The state recognized back then carp were a nuisance."
For this weekend's tournament, G.A. Wintzer & Sons rendering facility in Wapakoneta will pick up the fish daily to be turned into poultry feed.
Rough fish removal is one part of a multi-faceted plan to restore the water quality in Grand Lake. State efforts to entice commercial carp fishermen to the lake have been unsuccessful. Staff at Grand Lake St. Marys State Park have removed more than 9 tons of rough fish (gizzard shad, carp and quillback carp suckers) from the lake using nets.
If you go:
What: Get the Carp Outta Here fishing tournament
When: Friday, Saturday and Sunday on Grand Lake; weigh-in by 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Winners announced at 6 p.m. Sunday at Big Bamboos Dockside Grille, Celina.
Where: Weigh-in at East and West Bank boat ramps; public invited
Cost: $5 per team for entire weekend
• More than $2,000 in cash and prizes awarded in adult and youth divisions, including those for most fish and largest fish caught.
Places to register/get rules:
• The Outdoorsman, St. Marys, 419-394-5769
• Auglaize & Mercer Counties CVB office, St. Marys, 419-394-1294
• Celina/Mercer County Chamber, Celina, 419-586-2219
• Southwestern Auglaize County Chamber, New Bremen, 419-629-0313
• Grand Lake St. Marys State Park office, St. Marys, 419-394-3611
• East Bank boat ramp, St. Marys, and West Bank boat ramp, West Bank Road, Celina, each day of the tournament during weigh-in hours.