St. Lawrence International Junior Carp Tournament

Emma Plumley 2016.

The St. Lawrence River between the United States and Canada is one of North America’s best carp fisheries — and, each summer, home to North America’s biggest carp tournament for kids.

The St. Lawrence International Junior Carp Tournament has brought nearly 1,500 boys and girls to the banks of the river since it started in 2003. Youngsters from Great Britain, Europe, Russia, Japan and Canada have participated in the annual event alongside local youth who grew up with the St. Lawrence in their backyard.

This year, nearly 100 kids are expected to test their skills on August 17 to 19 along a 30-mile stretch of the river on the United States side, from Massena to Ogdensburg. The tournament is open to boys and girls ages 11 to 18; parents and guardians can sign up, too. Contestants register to fish individually and may also register as part of a two- to four-person team. Registration covers all activities, including the popular Mort Backus & Sons Fishing School led by local adult carp anglers.

The tournament was the brainchild of a young visitor from England: Tom Felton, the British actor known as the sinister Draco Malfoy in the “Harry Potter” films. A devoted carp fisherman, Felton and his brother Chris had fished the St. Lawrence River in 2002 and broached the idea of a local carp tournament for youngsters to the local St. Lawrence County (New York) Chamber of Commerce. Tom Felton was Grand Marshal of the tournament in its inaugural year.

Since that time, the county Chamber has hosted the event. In 2015, the international Carp Anglers Group (CAG) officially took the reins of the event with the Chamber remaining involved as co-host. Part of CAG’s mission is to promote catch-and-release carp fishing to young anglers, which the tournament certainly does with its emphasis on camaraderie, fun, and appreciation of the river and its plentiful carp.

The 2016 tournament saw 99 boys and girls reel in a total of 2,593 pounds of fish — a new record for the two days of competition. An 11-year-old first-time participant, Tanner Smith of Waddington, NY, claimed the Grand Champion Trophy and grand prize of $2,300 when his top four fish had a combined weight of 80 pounds, four ounces.

There have been other milestones over the years. The biggest fish caught to date was a 44-pound, 8-ounce common carp caught, kissed, and released by Millie Ma-son of Hyde Park, NY in 2004. In 2011, Tyler Mitchell of Hogansburg, NY pulled in a 40-pound, 8-ounce beauty. Cash prizes are usually several thousand dollars for the grand championship, although one year the haul for young angler Connor Loomis of Wadding-ton, NY was $15,000. He won the grand championship plus a special cash prize when his four biggest fish tipped the scales at more than 100 pounds. In 2012, the tournament saw its first female grand champion, Bryaunna Murray of Massena. The tournament even has produced one marriage!

Find out more about the Junior Carp Tournament, and carp fishing on the St. Lawrence – visit CAG at; the St. Lawrence County Cham-ber of Commerce at www.NorthCountryGuide; or to learn about all the incredible fishing possibilities in St. Lawrence County, NY.