WADDINGTON, N.Y. - In a sport where the luck of the draw is key, two of the planet's most accomplished carp anglers drew the best fishing hole to dominate the World Carp Championship.
Tim Paisley and Steve Briggs of the United Kingdom, the 2000 champions, caught 1,591 pounds, 5 ounces of carp over five days, nearly double the second-place finishers. The largest of their 80 fish weighed 34 pounds, 8 ounces.
"We've got a lot of experience, and we know what it takes to catch carp," said Paisley, 67. "You have to put the jigsaw puzzle together and it all fell into place."
Paisley and Briggs won $25,000 and two Chevy pickups.
None of the 100 two-man teams approached the New York state record of 50 pounds, 4 ounces, worth $1 million. The largest fish - 43 pounds, 7 ounces - was caught in the waning moments of the tournament by Piotr Kuprel and Ryszard Konieczny, Polish immigrants who live in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The St. Lawrence River lived up to its tough-to-tame reputation. The cold, wet spring delayed spawning and wreaked havoc with tactics. High winds pushed water from Lake Ontario into the river, dropping the water temperature and swamping fishing areas.
"It was hard fishing, the hardest fishing either one of us had ever seen," said Paul Pezalla, a carp bait and tackle merchant from the Chicago suburbs, who caught three fish with his partner Al St. Cyr of Dallas.
Maryland's team of Mark Metzger of Silver Spring and Tommy Robinson of Baltimore was one of 17 teams that came back empty-handed. The partners drew a fishing spot on the northern side of Ogden Island, facing the Canadian border. The fish remained in deep water, about 225 yards out and beyond their best casts.
"We tied for 84th. The bait we put out there the first day is still there," said Metzger, as he loaded his van for the ride home.
"The only bites we had were mosquito bites," Robinson added.
The winners drew a "peg," or fishing spot, on a point by a spawning cove on the south side of the St. Lawrence River. They reeled in more than a half-ton of fish by Tuesday afternoon but didn't let off.
"You can never rest in this game. If we could do it, someone else could do it," said Paisley, who learned Thursday that he became a grandfather.
Two American teams finished second and third. Stewart McKenzie and John Tilbrook, from Northern Virginia, caught 46 fish with a total weight of 849 pounds. Matt Coll and Louis Cook from Philadelphia caught 36 fish weighing 830 pounds, 4 ounces.
McKenzie and Tilbrook took up residence in the top five early in the tournament and started the final day in fourth place. McKenzie changed bait, location and tactics. Within minutes, he was hauling in fish.
With 15 minutes to go, "I took the ball of bait, kissed it and sent it out. I said to myself, 'This one's for my son,' and it all came into place," McKenzie said of the 25-pounder that put an exclamation point on their effort.
Even though Metzger and Robinson didn't catch a thing, as members of Team Capital with the second- and third-place finishers, they won the Nations Cup.
"He can ride our coattails," said McKenzie, laughing.
"Those are nice coattails," replied Metzger. "I'd be glad to."