CANTON - In the summer of 2004, Connor Loomis of Waddington won the St. Lawrence International Junior Carp Tournament. This summer, he will be Grand Marshal of the Aug. 18-20 event, the nation's largest carp fishing tournament for kids ages 11 to 18.
Now a 19-year-old at SUNY Potsdam who is just finishing up his freshman year and eyeing a future as a veterinarian, Loomis has "aged out" of the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce tournament. But fishing is still one of his passions and one of his goals this summer is to catch every fish species the St. Lawrence has to offer. And while bringing in a muskie is at the top of his list, he is still hooked on carp fishing - and happy to still be involved in the carp contest that seven years ago netted him nearly $15,000 in prize money.
In 2004 Loomis was the first and only Junior Carp contestant to win the Grand Champion title, plus an extra prize for the angler who hauled in four fish that weighed 100 pounds or more in total. He participated in the Junior Carp Tournament every year from 2003 to 2009. In keeping with a tradition that may have started with carp-loving British anglers, Loomis kissed every carp he caught as a tournament contestant. The fish "won me a good prize," he says. "I think they deserve a kiss."
A graduate of Madrid-Waddington High School, Loomis is the son of Scott and Mary Loomis of Waddington. As Grand Marshal of the August tournament, he will monitor the two days of fishing along a 30-mile stretch of the St. Lawrence, assist with the awards and presentations, and generally be a spokesperson for the contest.
The tournament's first Grand Marshal was British actor Tom Felton, best known as the sinister Draco Malfoy in all the Harry Potter films. The St. Lawrence International Junior Carp Tournament began in 2002, after Felton and his brother visited the St. Lawrence River for a carp fishing holiday.
He pointed out to the county chamber that there were no carp fishing tournaments for young people, and so the chamber established the event.
Register now for this summer’s contest
Young anglers are encouraged to register now for the 9th Annual St. Lawrence International Junior Carp Tournament, set for August 18 to 20 on the St. Lawrence River.
The nation's largest junior carp fishing contest lures kids ages 11 to 18 to northern New York to compete along a roughly 30-mile stretch of the St. Lawrence River, from the village of Massena to the city of Ogdensburg.
Past tournaments have brought together more than 100 local young anglers and contestants from Canada, England, Italy, and across the U.S. to experience some of the best carp fishing in the world.
The contest attracts all levels of skill - from veteran young carp anglers to those who are new to fishing for any species.
Participants can download a registration form by visiting the Chamber website, http://www.northcountryguide.com/Visiting/Fishing/JuniorCarpTournament or can call the Chamber at 315-386-4000 to request a form and more information.
Sponsors and volunteers are needed for the event, too; for more information call the Chamber or visit the website. Entry fees remain the same as last year: $100 if registration is received by July 15, or $125 after that date.
Contestants can register to fish individually, with a friend or as part of a four-person team.
Registration covers participation in all tournament-related events during the three days, including a pre-tournament fishing school sponsored by Mort Backus & Sons and the chance to learn about carp fishing from local experts.
All carp caught during the tournament are tagged and returned live to the St. Lawrence River.
A range of prizes are awarded in divisions for boys, girls and teams.