The Wild Carp Club of Central New York will host the Wild Carp Classic from May 8 to 11 along the Seneca River in Baldwinsville. The event draws more than 300 anglers into town. (Submitted photo)
Hundreds of anglers will set up camp along the Seneca River between May 8 and 11 for the Wild Carp Classic, and tournament organizers Paul and Ginny Russell are hoping international fishing officials will want to drop anchor in B’ville, too.
The 50 team slots — called pegs — for this year’s tournament sold out in a record 3.5 hours, but the Russells are hoping this year’s event will lead to an even greater accomplishment.
“Paul and I would love to make Baldwinsville the carp fishing capital of the United States,” Ginny Russell said.
“Baldwinsville’s located right at the dam — they kind of get stuck at the Red Mill. It’s just loaded with carp,” Paul Russell said.
Through the Wild Carp Club of Central New York, the Russells have run the Wild Carp Classic and the fall Ed French Open for the past three years. In that time — and in Paul’s experience as a guide for fishers from all over the world — they have piqued the interest of the United States Angling Confederation and the Fédération Internationale de la Pêche Sportive en Eau Douce (FIPS, or the International Fresh Water Sport Fishing Federation). FIPS is scouting locations for the 2021 Carp Fishing World Championship and has narrowed down its choices to Italy, Russia and the United States.
To that end, representatives from the U.S. Angling Confederation will attend the Wild Carp Classic in May to evaluate the Seneca River and Onondaga Lake as a possible host site for 2021.
“Baldwinsville would be the starting line and the lake would be the finish,” Paul Russell said.
Claudio Matteoli, an Italian FIPS official, will visit the Ed French Open in October to check out Baldwinsville as well.
“When they had the worlds in Serbia they didn’t catch any fish — not what they catch in our tournaments,” Ginny Russell said.
The Russells recently attended a carp fishing conference, and the Seneca River frequently came up in conversation.
“It’s taken for granted here. In Europe, they talk about the Seneca River. You have these famous rivers for carp all over the world and the Seneca River is definitely one of them,” Paul Russell added.
Carp angling is a thriving sport in Europe and other areas abroad.
“Wild carp is pretty rare now. A lot of it is stocked,” Paul Russell said. “These guys have to pay [to fish in certain areas]. It’s almost like a membership at a golf club.”
If U.S. Angling and FIPS decide to hold the 2021 Carp Fishing World Championship here, Central New York will reap the economic benefits.
“Europe is a multibillion dollar industry for carp,” Ginny Russell said. “If the Worlds come here, it’s really going to be a boon.”
The Russells have been in talks with Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon about making Onondaga Lake accessible for the world championship.
While bringing Worlds to Baldwinsville is a goal for the Russells, their immediate focus is preparing for the Wild Carp Classic in May. They said the event draws more than 300 anglers, who fish in teams and camp at Mercer Park during the tournament. Those anglers, the Russells said, are big fans of B’ville.
“We love the village. Everyone’s always so nice to us,” Ginny Russell said. “They love, love, love the village of Baldwinsville.”
The diversity of the fishers makes the Wild Carp Classic a mini-international festival, the Russells said. Romanians share their smoked beef, Polish anglers contribute kielbasa, and fishers from the South offer up their homemade moonshine.
If you missed out on signing your team up for a peg, there is still hope. The Russells are seeking additional locations, especially along Van Ness Road South in the town of Van Buren.
“We are looking to add more. We actually have 10 people on the waiting list,” Ginny Russell said.
To sign your team up for the waiting list, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Even if you aren’t an angler, the Wild Carp Classic is open to spectators.
“We’re going to distribute maps around town. We’ll have them at the Red Mill Inn, we’ll have them at the B’ville Diner, the library,” Ginny Russell said. “[People] can go out anytime and watch people fish.”
The event also will include a casting competition at Paper Mill Island and youth fishing workshops. The tournament is still in need of sponsors and volunteer weigh marshals.
Outside of its spring and fall tournaments, the Wild Carp Club hosts regular meetings and is seeking new members. Starting in April, the club will hold one to two shootouts each month. Anglers can vie for cash prizes at each shootout and rack up points for a chance to compete in the WCC Championship on Oct. 27.
“If you’re just getting into carp fishing it’s a great way to start. We’re all friendly,” Ginny Russell said.
To learn more about the Wild Carp Club of CNY and its events, visit wildcarpclub.com.
Ashley M. Casey is a reporter for The Baldwinsville Messenger and The Eagle Star-Review. She graduated from Le Moyne College in 2012 and previously worked for the Scotsman Press.