ST. MARYS — A local lake will once again be filled with people seeking carp as part of a second-ever event.
The second-ever Get the Carp Outta Here fishing derby returns to Grand Lake St. Marys Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Last year, the event attracted close to 300 participants who helped remove 8,142 pounds of carp from the lake.
“We’ve got our fingers cross — we’ve been getting a lot of phone calls with people wanting to know more details and answers,” Auglaize/Mercer Counties CVB Director Donna Grube told The Evening Leader. “A lot of it will depend on the weather. Some people will probably wait until they see what the weather is going to do before making their plans. We are hoping that it will be good weather.”
By adding a third day, Grube said she hopes more participants sign up for the derby. While carp derbies were a part of Grand Lake St. Marys in the past, the events were put on hiatus until last year.
“This is an event we want to continue to build up,” Grube said. “There hasn’t been a carp derby for decades so we had nothing to go on so we were pleased with last year’s turnout. Last year, some folks in Mercer County brought some pictures of big billboards in the 50s and 60s so it’s a long tradition here — it’s just been a while. Some gentlemen told them how they remembered taking part in carp derbies — it’s just a fun thing to bring them back.”
Prizes will be awarded for the most fish and largest fish caught in adult and youth categories. There also will be daily prizes handed out. All fish must be caught by legal means and the most fish caught category will be determined by the number of fish — all of which must be more than 4 inches.
Grube said the event also is a way to showcase the improved water quality at Grand Lake St. Marys. During last year’s event, Grube said she received scores of positive feedback regarding the improvements.
“We had a group of professional carp derby participants from Dayton on the West Bank and they had all these gadgets and gizmos and they said they thought they were going to have to cut a hole in the algae to fish,” Grube said. “They told us how beautiful the lake was. We, as a CVB, hope that’s how it played out around the lake ... It’s definitely a goal of ours to get people back here and bring them back. Word of mouth is one of the most important things you can do in travel and tourism.”
There also are ancillary benefits to the derby. Grube said many of the participants are from out of the region, which means hotel check-ins and restaurant reservations.
“We know folks stay in local hotels and at the campgrounds,” Grube said. “They also have to eat while they are here. They are also out buying supplies ... Fishing tournaments bring in a lot of money into the area. I know when we had large, multi-day tournaments, we would see people out test fishing days before the event started. They don’t have a $50,000 bass boat without being willing to spend money on their sport. Carp may not be as fancy, but they are all having a good time and having fun on Grand Lake St. Marys.”
Grube also noted participants do not have anything to worry about regarding the recent round of testing for microcystin in the lake. While the samples — taken in early to mid-April — ranged from 36 to 46 parts per billion, the results were on par with samples taken from the lake during the early part of November last year.
“I think everyone would agree it’s been a strange thing having it in the 80s earlier this year,” Grube said. “We all know it took a long time for the lake to get into the condition it is in now and we are all impatient. The state has stepped up and we are going to have ups and downs. The tests that were just reported were before the alum distribution. Hopefully that will starve the algae. We have our fingers crossed and Mother Nature will do its part. We do have a long-term plan to get the lake cleaned up and get that phosphorus out and to keep more from coming in.”
The cost is $5 per person to take part in the tournament. Sign-up locations include The Outdoorsman, Grand Lake Boat & Tackle, The Convention and Visitors Bureau and Grand Lake St. Marys State Park on the east side of the lake, Kozy Campground and Big Bamboo’s Dockside Grill on the west side. Participants also can sign up at the weigh in stations at the west bank boat launch area and at shelterhouse No. 1 on the east bank from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The Celina Moose, HAB Aquatics, KCI & Associates and The Grand Lake Chapter of Ducks Unlimited are major sponsors of the event. An after tournament party with the winners’ payout and biggest carp on display is planned at Big Bamboo’s Dockside Grill on Sunday afternoon.
For more information, visit SeeMore.org or call 419-394-1294.