What with the holidays and all, you probably missed out on some news that has rocked the sportfishing world. You might want to sit down before you read this. Okay, here goes: There is a scandal brewing in the World Carp Fishing Championships.

Wait, don’t tell me you didn’t know there was such a thing as the World Carp Fishing Championships? Well, there is. No, seriously, there is actually a fishing tournament where people actually compete to see who can catch the most carp.

In fact, at this year’s world championship, there were some 21 different countries competing in the tournament. Luckily the United States was not one of them because, as it turns out, there was something, ahem, fishy going on. It seems there may have been some shenanigans by the host country. And the rest of the carp-fishing world is not happy.

Here is what was alleged to have taken place, but first a little background. This most recent tournament was the 14th annual edition of World Carp Fishing Championships. The event drew carp-fishing teams from Portugal, Latvia, Bulgaria, Croatia, England, France and many more. Sanctioned by the International Carp Fishing Federation, this year’s contest was held on Lac Corbu in Romania in September.

Two-person teams from the different countries draw for fishing stands. These are basically an awning set up over a cleared out area in the cattails along the shore of the lake — no boats are allowed in this competition — where they set out several rods with bait.

Once the starting gun goes off, teams have 72 hours to catch as many carp as they can. The team with the most weight at the end of the tournament wins the big prize — which, as far as I can tell, is a giant bronze sculpture of, you guessed it, a carp.

“Honey, look at what I won at the World Carp Fishing Championships!”

“You’re not putting that ugly thing in MY house.”

And this year, in what can only be described as a first in carp fishing championship history, something besides the bait, the catch, and a few of the contestants, smelled a little fishy.

It seems the team from the host country of Romania wanted to catch carp so badly it created a bit of an advantage in winning the event. Or, at least, that’s the carping coming from a few of the other teams.

The defending champions from England, who were odds-on favorites to win the world championships due to their carp fishing techniques and experience, has filed a complaint that the Romanians knew what the carp were going to eat ahead of time.

Wait, isn’t that what makes any good angler successful?

According to the complaint by the English competitors, the Romanians had been feeding the carp in Lac Corbu one single type of soluble bait since the fish were stocked in the lake two years ago. And that bait is what Team Romania used to sucker the carp — and the rest of the competition.

A few of the other teams who went to Romania in advance of the championships to practice fishing for carp (yes, they actually practice carp fishing) on the lake learned what bait was being fed to the golden trout, and they, too, used it in the competition. And they too out-fished the English gentlemen.

How does the old saying go ... when in Romania, do as the Romanians do?

All of this leads to a few questions.

First, how come the United States doesn’t have a team competing in the World Carp Fishing Championships? We have over 33 million anglers and somewhere there must be someone who actually fishes for carp. Certainly we could find a couple of guys who might want to buck up and represent the good old red, white and blue.

The hang-up here might be the status of carp in America. In these parts carp are about as low on the “wanna-catch” scale as there is. But I guess in Europe, where there are very few trout or bass or walleye or salmon or steelhead or just about any other kind of fish to fish for, carp is it.

The second question is, don’t they have any worms in Romania? I know for a fact a carp will eat a worm. Up at Potholes Reservoir you can catch carp after carp after carp on a worm. And it’s my guess that if the English team members had strung a big, fat nightcrawler on their hooks and dropped them into Lac Corbu, any carp living there would swim right by some synthetic bait — especially if it had been eating it for two years — to slurp up a juicy worm.

Finally, one has to wonder what they do with all the carp they catch in the World Championships. In bass and walleye tournaments here, the fish are kept in live wells, weighed and put back in the lake or stream. At many salmon tournaments, on the other hand, the fish are bonked, weighed and prepared for the grill.

Grilled carp is not on any menu I have ever seen in the U.S. Who knows, though, they may make a mean blackened carp in Bucharest. If I’m ever there, I’ll have to see if it’s on the menu. Because, as they say, when in Romania ...7