ST. MARYS — The third annual “Get the Carp Outta Here” Carp Derby was once again successful in its goal of removing as many of the bottom feeders as possible.
Two years ago, there were 8,142 pounds of carp caught by participants over the two-day event. Last year, the number was 12,831 pounds, and this year, participants caught 15,541 pounds.
Grand Lake St. Marys has been shown to have an imbalance in the number of carp that can be found in the lake compared to the number of other species of fish. Carp also add to the unwanted phosphorus in the lake. The fish feed off the sediment at the bottom of the lake, and when they die, their bodies leave behind more of the chemical than was present before.
The Lake Improvement Association and the Auglaize and Mercer Counties Convention and Visitors Bureau created the carp derby to help decrease the number of carp in the lake.
“It’s a neat community event — it’s been fun,” said Dan Manning, owner of the Outdoorsmen.
“People come from all over. I know there was somebody here from Tennessee yesterday. I know there’s a group of people from around our state that (does) this. They’ll travel from lake to lake to do this kind of thing.”
Manning and his wife, Brenda, were one of the many sponsors in the tournament.
Participants had from 4 p.m. Friday until noon Sunday to catch as many carp as possible and present the fish to the volunteers working the various weigh-in stations scattered across the lake, from St. Marys to Celina.
Greg Schumm, with the Lake Restoration Commission, was one of the volunteers helping count participants’ carp as they were tossed into round, orange barrels Sunday.
“I’ve helped with this for two years, and it’s enjoyable,” he said, noting that the biggest plus is that it brings people in numbers to the lake.
One group of anglers made the drive from Dayton to participate in the derby. Danielle Holley and friend Daniel Campbell caught 32 fish over the weekend.
“This was our first time,” Holley said. “(We) just thought it would be something fun, something different. Right now (the carp) are spawning and they’re all right by the banks so I think the only way to catch them is with a bow.”
Manning noted carp are fun fish to try to catch.
“They’re powerful, so when you hook one, it’s a blast, but the majority of the population fishes for other types of species,” he said.
“There’s no natural selection of harvest for them ... so we’re trying to create it with this event. Creating an event like this to weed them out helps. This may be a small attempt to help, but it’s at least creating an event and it’s getting people into the sport.”
Fishing for carp is growing as a sport nationwide, he said, and may have stemmed from this derby.
Awards were given out in two different categories: the highest number of carp caught and the heaviest-weighing carp.
For anyone still wishing to be a part of the carp-catching, there have been 25 carp marked with orange tags. Each one is represented by a sponsor and the individuals who catch them will be awarded $100 each.
One of these tagged carp was caught during the derby, but the rest are still fair game until July 4.