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You are here You are here The Red Mill Inn News 2009 News 2009 Archive - Story  Story

It's all about the carp

By Jeff Kramer, Contributing Columnist
May 19, 2008

It's all about the carp


Everyone knows I'm all about giving back to the community, provided there are no long-term commitments and no conflict with the NBA playoffs TV schedule - and I can get a column out of it. That explains why today's discourse is about my apprenticeship as a carp weigher at the Northeast Regionals carp fishing tournament in Baldwinsville.

All philanthropic pretensions aside, I've been fascinated by our local bottom-feeders since a pair of them approached my car at a stoplight in the village last year and squeegeed my windshield. Nervously, I dropped a few quarters into their gaping maws and hit the gas. They were laughing so hard, liquefied vegetation shot out their mud veins.

Carp, of course, have become a big deal around here almost overnight. Long derided by locals as trash fish, our Seneca River uber-specimens have been discovered by anglers from Asia and Europe, where wild carp are prized - even revered - and sometimes scarce. Thus we have been treated to the spectacle of foreign fishermen - and, yes, that includes the French - kissing the rubber-lipped leviathans on the mouth before tossing them back in the river.

It's a cultural thing. Personally, you'd never catch me kissing a carp other than one regrettable episode in Luxembourg in 1984. What can I say? I was a young man, and I was lonely.

So very, very lonely.

Let's move on.

I reported for carp-weighing duty on Thursday at the Red Mill Inn, and was promptly deployed to Lions Community Park. There, I was placed under the command of veteran carp marshal Vinny Jeffeys, of Lowell, Mass.

"Don't drop the fish," was Vinny's advice.

Actually, carp-weighing is less complicated than you might think. A competitor reels in a carp and places it on a protective mat. The angler nudges the carp into an official weighing bag held by the weigher. The weigher then lugs the bag-o-carp to a portable tripod scale and weighs it. Occasionally, ominous plumbing noises emanate from the bag.

Not all carp endorse the American Carp Society weighing method. One 15-pound troublemaker was so agitated that I had to maneuver its slimy, gross body with my bare hands and admonish it to "Get in the damn bag!"

But most carp get it: The sooner the carp's weight is recorded, the sooner it can be released back into the water so it can be re-caught by a teammate or rival. And so it goes for 50 hours (I lasted two).

This was the second straight year B'ville hosted the tournament, and it's only going to grow. So, do yourself a favor. Stop wallowing in the silt of apathy and get involved the next time the world comes for our noble carp. Besides, this isn't just about catching slow, ugly fish. It's about the people you meet, people like Romanian immigrant Radu Georgescu, a violinist with the Nashville Symphony.

"I long for silence," Radu said between annoying beeps of his battery-powered carp alarm. "I'm used to working around so much noise."

I don't mean to carp, but maybe the Nashville Symphony should practice more.


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