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ST. MARYS — For the past three days, anglers from around the Midwest convened on Grand Lake St. Marys to participate in the second-ever “Get the Carp Outta Here” fishing tournament.
With the sunny weather, anglers were bringing in fish by the dozen.
“The numbers of people fishing are down, but we’re on pace to weigh in more fish,” co-organizer Dan Manning said on Sunday. “There are people from all around to do this — they’re professionals.”
Manning said he had seen people from the local area, as well as participants from out of town.
“We have a lot of people from out of town,” he said. “I know some folks from Indiana have traveled here to do this.”
Even though the number of participants was below 2011’s numbers, Manning said the negative publicity surrounding Grand Lake St. Marys could have had something to do with turnout.
“We thought for our second year we would build bigger numbers,” he said. “I think all the negative publicity is hurting the numbers — even though what we’re doing is trying to help the lake. But I really think this is something that will grow year after year. We’ve heard people saying they will come back for it next year.”
Carp, Manning said, disrupt the lake’s ecosystem.
“It’s a large species — the lake’s ecosystem gets out of balance,” he said.
“With our lake, we have an imbalance of rough fish, like carp, versus game fish, like crappie, bass and bluegill. These things also disrupt our fish’s nests — they eat the other fish’s eggs. Carp also eat up the bottom of the lake, and they stir up the phosphorus. It’s also a large fish — they create a lot of phosphorus.”
Manning noted not many people eat carp these days and people don’t usually keep them if they catch them.
“The state doesn’t do things to manage carp like they do with other fish,” he said.
“There’s no natural selection for carp. Usually, most people just throw it back in.”
The carp collected during the tournament will go to G.A. Wintzer and Son in Wapakoneta.
“This is a small effort but a fun one,” Manning said.
“The guys doing this love it, they’re into it. Every little bit helps.”
Chris Law and Walter Hallum traveled from Columbus to Grand Lake St. Marys this weekend to participate in the tournament.
“We exclusively fish for carp,” Law said. “Usually there’s a cheap entry fee and a big payout. Plus, this is a really nice lake, a large lake, and this helps the lake. There’s some good fishing here.”
This was the first year the two participated in “Get the Carp Outta Here,” they said, but Law noted they heard about it because of his brother who came up for last year’s tournament.
“My older brother did it last year,” Law said. “He got us to come this year.”
Hallum noted the two use a European-style method to carp fishing.
“There aren’t many tournaments here in Ohio,” he said. “We do a lot out of state. It’s big over in Europe and that’s the method we use.”
St. Marys resident Jim Schnarre participated in the tournament with his son Michael.
“It sounded interesting,” Michael said, noting he caught 13 fish over the weekend.
It was the pair’s first year participating in the tournament, and Schnarre said Michael fared better than him — he caught four during the tournament.
“It sounded interesting, it sounded like fun,” he said. “We thought it would be time for us to spend together for three days and a way for us to help with the lake.”
He noted the lake’s asset to the area.
“We would like to see the lake improve, and if we can get a few of the trash fish out, it’s a way we can help,” Schnarre said.
He noted Michael likes to fish at the lake.
“He spends a lot of time out here fishing, and I don’t want to ruin it for him and for future generations,” Schnarre said.
“It would be nice to get it turned around and to see it headed in the right direction.”