General Info About Paylake Carp Tournaments

About Carp Tournaments

(Looking for info on fishing/bait/supplies/recipes? keep scrolling down!)

Carp Tournaments are typically held in privately-owned, stocked, pay ponds lasting 5-12 hours. Winners are determined based on the weight of the fish. This style of fishing originated in North Carolina and also has popularity in states like Georgia, South Carolina, and Kentucky.

Example tournament formats could be:

  • 3 Biggest Total Weight
  • 5 Biggest Total Weight
  • Biggest fish every 20 minutes
  • Biggest fish every 2 hours
  • Closest to a specific weight
  • Placements for each of the biggest fish, could be 20 or more placements!

The information below is a shortened version from this website with more details:

Carp Fishing Style

Carp fishing doesn’t involved cast, reel, cast, reel like you would do for say, bass fishing. It also doesn’t utilize lures, Instead, a bait ball of ingredients is wrapped around a hook, “pickup”, and left to sink in one spot for 20+ minutes to then wait on a bite. This style of fishing is relaxing with the reward being a huge fish to reel in!


Each fisherman chooses their spot based on a random draw. Signups occur before the tournament and then the order is drawn. We use a peg board for each fisherman to claim their spot. This is where they will fish from for the whole tournament. (There are also sometimes rules that allow to move to a different spot later if desired.)

The skill comes in recognizing where the fish are biting and what they are biting. Just like people have different “moods” for flavors – fish do too!

Winning Paylake Tournaments:

Prizes are typically awarded for biggest fish in a certain time period as well as overall largest for the tournament period. Other prizes can vary and can include places for combined weights.


  • Rods – usually 7-8 feet, medium-heavy to heavy. Gives better control when catching a fish.
  • Reels – most common are bait casters (advanced) and open face (better for beginners).  It is all about preference.
  • Line – 12lb – 20lb breaking strain. High visibility lines do not bother carp and can aid the fishermen in recognizing a bite and reeling the fish in.
  • Rigs – typically on a barrel swivel with 2 leaders (optional), 2-5” in length. Adjusting to a barrel swivel with only one hook is beneficial for your hands when trying to unhook a wildly thrashing carp. Anyone who has been “hooked” knows it is not fun and will often use 1  hook afterwards.
  • Sinkers – Egg or No-roll in 1/8 to 1 oz weight. The benefit of the flat version is the fluttering as it falls/sinks which helps to expose the hook quicker.
  • Rod Stands – simple with a foot peg at the bottom to push into the ground. The top has a cupped area to prevent the rod from being pulled into the lake.
  • Alarms/indicators – some are LED with a sound element, others are a bobber style that dangles with no sound.
  • Landing Nets – Ed Cumings and Ranger nets are more popular. Designed for Salmon and Catfish, the 8 foot pole can assist with taller banks and heavy carp.
  • Carp Caddy / Carrier / Tote – typically a plastic cylinder designed to carry a fish head first. (Backwards/tail first can result in broken spines/backs which don’t heal) padding protects the fish and dunking the cylinder in water before inserting the fish into the cylinder also prevents burns to the fish in the summer heat.  It is common to see 1600 series electric scooters with an adapter on the back to carry the carp to the weigh station. Because the roads around the paylakes are usually gravel, a thick foam padding in the tote is especially important to protect the fish.

Making Bait: We have a stocked store with many of the items needed, including pre-made rice bait, but you will want to venture out into making your own bait recipes in no time!

Binders include: instant grits, soybean meal, panko, ground white bread, all purpose flour, cooked cracked corn, instant oats, break crumbs, powdered molasses, cake mixes, cookie mixes, chicken laying mash, trout chow, wheat bran, hulled millet, and ground cereals.

Wetters function as the glue and include: creamed corn, lake water, soda, fruit juices, pudding, baby food, karo syrup, molasses, maple syrup, alcoholic beverages, ketchup, eggs, vinegar, chocolate/strawberry syrup, agave nectar, Cottage cheese, milk, snow cone syrups, apple sauce, flavorings/boosters, liquid deer attractants.


Here are some simple recipes:


  • 1 box (36 oz) Instant grits
  • 1 lb quick grits
  • 1 bottle, light corn syrup
  • 2-3 oz flavoring – your choice


  • Millet Kit (available for purchase at lake)
  • 1 bottle, light corn syrup
  • 2-3 oz flavoring – your choice


  • 4 lb soybean meal
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 8 oz flavoring, your choice.

Fisherman Patrick Neese shows how to make some simple baits and more:

Danny S4E shows how to make a better pickup on his channel which is full of videos from Red’s Lake too!

Jalen Jackson shows how to make his trout chow:

Be sure to visit and scroll to bottom for ‘recipe’ ideas.