Super Flyin Rubber Lips on the Splatte!
by: Scott Thompson 5/13/2012
I am beginning to lose interest in those little hardly fighting trash fish we call trout. “Blasphemy Scott, A traitor!” I can hear all of you screaming right now. How can a Colorado fly fishing guide say such a thing! Well, I am only half serious. Which half I do not know. I am simply trying to make a contrast to a fish that I have come to admire more than any other in our great state. The Carp.
For those of us lucky enough to live in the Mile High City, we have one of the greatest urban carp fisheries in the world. The urban South Platte or "Splatte", as I affectionately call her, is home to miles and miles of prime carp fishing that can be as rewarding and challenging as any that I have ever fished in my 33 years of fly fishing. In fact, when I get a call from a client that can really make the cast and wants to hook big fish, it is the Splatte that I try to steer him or her towards.
The Splatte from Chatfield reservoir all the way to Commerce City is loaded with common and Mirror carp in the 4 to 20lb class with some, I am sure, even larger. Getting them to take a well presented fly in low water is a thrill that you have to experience to believe. These are extremely wary prey that will not stick around long if anything goes wrong. Lining them, bad drifts, being spotted, and bad casts are just a few that I can mention. When all goes right you then have to deal with the next problem. How do you land a pissed off 15 pound torpedo that knows how to swim into rocks, and sticks, and garbage to get rid of the thing that is hurting him? I have even seen them leap up onto the bank and bounce around on rocks to throw my fly.
So how do you successfully Carp fish? I have personally hooked more carp nymph fishing a pink San Juan Worm than any other method and it’s not even close. I have hooked them on dry flies, I have hooked them on streamers, especially crayfish patterns, but nymphing really works well for me. A couple of things about the nymph rig. Make sure that if you have to use an indicator that it is small and not easy to spot. I like the small glow in the dark Thingamabobber because it looks just like an air bubble when riding down the current. This way I can set it at two and half times the depth of the water and really see the takes, which can be some of the most subtle in the fishing world.
Another trick that I use is to tie on my nymphs with a loop knot. This is critical for the nymph to drift naturally without any drag whatsoever. These fish can spot anything that looks unnatural believe me. The Duncan loop is my go to knot but I am sure there are dozens of other quality ones to choose from. What I like about the Duncan Loop is that you can adjust the size of the loop after finishing the knot. Using the loop knot also means that you can go heavy on the tippet if it is fluorocarbon. Once the water warms above 60 degrees, I do not go smaller than 2x. As for rods I am going to use a quote from Jaws here. “Were gonna need a bigger boat.” For the love of God do not use a 5 weight trout rod to fish for Carp. I have seen many rods destroyed by angry rubber lipped footballs charging downstream. It is my opinion that a medium action 7 wt is perfect for the Splatte.
You also will have to know how to recognize which fish are worth your while and which ones are not. Just recently the water temps on the Splatte hit 68 degrees which in the Carp world means time to make babies. If you see a pod of fish chasing each other around nose to tail don’t waste your time. Those males are hornier than Pee Wee in a movie house. Instead focus your attention on tails. If you see a fish that is angled downward with the tail up, it means that he is actively feeding. You can also target fish that appear to be just lying on the bottom facing upstream. These fish will usually not refuse a well presented meal.
I have to mention here that the Splatte is not the prettiest river in the world. Especially as you head downtown and below. There are also a lot of homeless people that use the river as a camping area. Aside from that and the garbage, and the smell, and the drug addicts it’s actually quite nice. I personally don’t care what it looks like as long as old rubber lips is in the mood to play.
Blog content © Scott Thompson
FlyFisha900, CO 5/13/2012 8:47:33 PM
I love carp and believe they are way to underrated. Great blog, but I do disagree with you on rod weight. I have caught 10 plus pound carp on my 5 weight, which I also use for trout. Great blog though!
tbblom, CO 5/13/2012 10:16:40 PM
I just started finally figuring out carp in ponds. Up to 6 this season so far.
Combining a river drift with the rest of carp fishing sounds like a blast, can't wait to give it a try some day.
I had a feeling about nymphs and worms, might have to try the san juan in ponds too...
Funkybug, CO 5/14/2012 7:23:47 AM
Great blog Scott...That last photo gives a new meaning to "the stiff arm". Haha
Scott Thompson (comedyfisher), CO 5/14/2012 9:56:20 AM
Thanks for the comments! Some day your gonna break that pretty little 5wt FlyFisha900! Ha ha
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