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Carroll Outdoors: Undercover with carp mafia

Most CM associates will not show their face in venues outside of common carping.
Most CM associates will not show their face in venues outside of common carping. (JIM GRONAW PHOTO, Carroll County Times)

Well, wouldn't you know it, just so happens that what comes around, goes around, and I am back at the same seedy locations, hangin' with the same shady bunch that I thought I'd left forever. Not so! Like a bad cold ... you just can't shake the grip of the Carp Mafia.

My most recent dealings with this group of bottom feeders resulted in the usual array of jokes, antics and even some big fish. These jolly corn chuckers gathered for a lengthy session and had to go 'way down' on their list of potential angling partners before they approved the likes of me and my kin. Here's how the day started off.

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'Hey. Jim, I'm gonna' run in town and grab a sandwich, watch my rods 'til I get back" said one of the higher ranking members of the CM group. That was cool with me, because no sooner than the high-ranking member of the CM left the parking lot one of his bite alarms went off and I somehow out sprinted my 'track star' son to the rod rest.

Setting the hook, I realized it was one of the beefy carp that the Mafia boys had told me about. After a lengthy fight, and the arrival of the high-ranking member of the CM in dismay, I finally beached the overgrown goldfish and then the jokes began. Stuff like ...

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'Wow, he played that fish so long, I thought we'd have to get a 2014 license to make it a legal catch' and 'I don't know if I want to touch that rod after 'he' handled it' and the ultimately insulting ...

'I'll bet that's the only fish he catches today.' See what I mean. Never mind that the high-ranking member of the CM got his sandwich, never mind that the weather was beautiful and the storms held off. And, let's forget totally about that outstanding monster carp the mere rookie just skillfully banked, getting it out of heavy weeds not once, but twice.

Nope. No high fives, no pats-on-the-back or even a 'nice fish' comment from the pit of vipers. As I cracked open a soda, to at least celebrate on my own, one of the low-lifes said, 'did you bring enough for everybody?' Sheeesh!

But that's how it goes when you're hangin' with the carp mob. You gotta' be thick of skin, and thin of wits to tough it out with these guys. Later, my son managed to hook an excellent fish, one of three he would bank that afternoon, and managed to land it when the hook had not made contact, yet entangled on the top dorsal fin of the runaway brute, making numerous long runs.

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Patience won out, along with good 'fish-play' coaching from that same high-ranking member of the Carp Mafia. Funny, everybody seemed happy for his catch, and congratulatory remarks were rendered. Meanwhile, I remained in the gutter. 'Matt's gonna' be a good carper' exclaimed one of the members.' He ain't nothin' like his dad' quipped another. Sheeesh!

Meanwhile, bite alarms were going off left and right for some of the group. A couple spots just seemed to hold more fish than the others, although everybody caught fish. They were nice fish - many in the mid- thirty-inch category and a few bigger. Most were pre-spawn females, heavy with roe, and fought like freight trains, taking off on long runs and occasionally burying in the weed beds, making landing chores challenging.

Before the dust settled from the Mafia's' fury, a group of six fishermen had banked 33 carp out of 44 runs. Bass anglers take note, at a conservative estimate of 12 pounds per fish, that comes out to 528 pounds of fish for a nice, easy chair, soda-sipping, and sandwich -searching afternoon on the bank. No park fees, no closing time and no hassles other than a bunch of guys that just want to rib and kid about successes, and failures in the world of carping.

As for me, well, yes ... that was the only fish I landed. But all is well for the Carp Mafia!

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