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World Carp Championship
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FishGuys Across 'Merica!
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<2002 - photos
Almost a year ago, and before any of us from fishguys.org had ever been in a tournament, Matt and I heard that for the first time ever, the World Carp Championship was coming to the USA. We immediately saw this as a golden opportunity as we were not likely to be able to travel to France or Romania any time soon for fishing. So we spent months planning, got all the extra gear we needed, and saved up the $2500.00 entry fee. It was an exciting but also intimidating endeavor. The tournament lasts for 5 days, 115 hours straight. Teams were to be placed on islands, and deep in the wilderness. We would have to find a way to safely store our fish for up to 12 hours, without risking injury. We knew that we'd be up against the greatest anglers in the world, on a prolific but challenging water, the St. Lawrence River in upstate NY. 103 teams from 29 countries showed up and fished their best. We couldn't be more happy with every moment of the event. There were struggles, triumphs, and new friends from far away places... Below is a pictoral account of the trip from start to finish.
First, we need to recognize our only sponsor who was crazy enough to lend us a van, www.dugancom.com. Please visit them for any of your web and network related needs.
So here is the dugancom van, ready for takeoff. Inside are hundreds of hooks, probably 50 lbs of lead, 11 rods, 200 safety clips, 800 lbs of bait, a turkey fryer to cook the bait, and tons of other potential necessities. Half of our strategizing done by the time we drove off.
We stopped in the Poconos to do some leisurely fishing and clear our minds before hand. Pines Lake is right down the street from my parents vacation home. We have fished this lake many times. We usually catch one giant fish between us, and that's it. This night things were different. We landed 7 walleye over 20 inches, all thin, but long. Matt caught a nice largemouth, and I caught my best pickerel. It's not big, but I have been looking to catch a better Pickerel for a while and this will do. If this luck kept up, we thought we'd be in good shape!
Then we were off to drive the 6+ hours to Waddington, NY, the
WCC headquarters. When we arrived at our hotel, the
attendant wanted $150 for a night... at the super 8! We haggled
with him and as we started walking out the door, he agreed that
we could pay $65. Things were looking better every minute. We
had to pre-register at the Akwesasne Mowhawk Casino. This is
where most of the events would be held. When we arrived, We each
got $25 credit to gamble with for free. We walked out with almost $100
in winnings between us. Better every minute...
Later that night was the peg draw. Teams pull numbers for their location on the bank. we got peg 82, it seemed ok on the depth contour map.
We were lucky to not be stuck on an island. Those teams had to be shipped slowly and tediously via cattle barge to their locations. We did have to drive several miles down treacherous dirt roads, but it was worth it to have the comfort of our van should we need it. As we closed in on where our peg should have been, we found a barbed wire fence. "It can't be in here, can it?" We waited around a bit and finally a marshal drove up and informed us that our peg was in a cattle pasture... "They're friendly." Yes they were. We had to chase them away from our bait a few times.
The St. Lawrence is called a "Seaway." That's just how big it is. You could almost run and jump from shore into 20+ feet of water. 30 feet from shore, it was over 30 feet deep. Anglers have to keep their rod tips high to stay above the sharp zebra mussels that lie on the edges of the steep drop-offs. Many huge ships floated by and sent waves crashing on our bank.
By the end of day one we were one of only a few teams that had fish on the bank. This had us in second place. I caught 2 channel cats bigger than I have ever seen. Both over 10 lbs. Our conditions soon worsened with 25 mph winds, strong current, and large clumps of weeds that caused us to loose over 20 fish by the end of the tournament.
We spent Monday trying to keep our gear from blowing away, and visiting the Romanian team. They were the only competitors within walking distance. Here is Soren, our new friend with a 30+.
Tuesday night our super support staff, Donnie, showed up. As our official runner, he was not allowed to touch any rods, bait or rigs. But this boy can cook a mean camp meal. Salmon with asparagus in cream dill sauce, was one of many fine meals we enjoyed between fish. He was allowed to hold a fish for a picture too...
Here is our shanty town where it all went down.
Don brought with him some good luck too. The winds died, current changed and fish started screaming the minute he showed up. This one was going to be big. We knew it.
It weighed in at 37lbs 4 oz, but we didn't have it weighed until the next day. We were convinced it was over 40, and the big fish leader until then. It ended up being the 5th biggest of the tournament.
Tuesday night and Wednesday morning our fishing really took off. The conditions were much better, and we had figured out the patterns of the fish in our swim. Our weigh in Wednesday morning was over 200 lbs. The picture below has some of those fish. Included are a 29, a 30, and 3 over 25.
I bet you are wondering where we kept 7 fish overnight. Matt had custom fish sacks made so we could safely store the fish. This is a common practice in Europe. The sacks are made of soft mesh that water passes through freely, and won't injure the fish. Because of the waves from the wind and ships, we wanted to make sure the fish were in deep water and would not be smacked into rocks. So we built this buoy-rope system that kept them high in several feet of water. When the weigh marshal came, we put the sacked fish on a floating mat, and floated them to shore.
By Thursday night we had caught over 700 lbs. But it hadn't registered online yet. We knew we were in the top 3, but no one else did. We had to tell the marshal that our "live" weight was off by over 200 lbs. Despite a horrible thunder storm, we caught another 30 Thursday night, and several more by Friday morning to put us up to 830 lbs 4 oz.
We had 36 fish, despite loosing over 20. 3 were over 30 with
plenty of 29 and 28 lb fish. Our average was over 23 lbs. The
update mix up made people think we caught 400 lbs in one night.
Some teams even thought there was a conspiracy. We did our
best until the end, and hoped that we would hold our current
position of 2nd place! We packed up, and left for town. Many
results were still not in. we found that we had dropped to
third, beaten by 12 pounds by one of our fellow team USA
members. We wouldn't find out the results until the ceremony
back at the casino. Talk about a nail biter!
Matt and I at the podium, thrilled to be in third.
Team Capital members John Tilbrook and Stewart Mckenzie, who overtook us for second.
One of our new friends, Przemek from Poland.
The well deserved winners, Steve Briggs, and Tim Paisley, 2 real stars in the carp world.
Then it was back into the casino to celebrate at the bar with all of our friends, old and new. What a scene. No cameras allowed though...
We left bright and early the next day on our return trip. We again stopped in the Poconos to relax and gather our wits. This time, Pines lake was also generous. I landed a largy easily over 4 lbs, and a bullhead. Matt caught a nice crappie. In the two trips we made to this lake, we landed a respectable fish of every species in this lake, except for sunfish and yellow perch.
After that, we slept in, and headed to the Lehigh River below Francis E. Walter Dam. We caught a few nice smallmouths and called it a day.
Overall this was the experience of a lifetime. I can't put into words just how much this trip meant to me. I hope we can do it again next year in South Africa. This time we'll be shooting for first!