Iíve been carp fishing this year more than years past. Typically, I donít target carp specifically. Theyíre more of an opportunistic situation. If I chance on active fish, itís hard to pass them by. Letís face it, they can be challenging to catch consistently, especially with flies. Further, once hooked they are tough to land, pulling hard right up to the end.
This year Iíve chased carp at Jackson, Prewitt, and North Sterling. Jackson is a consistent producer of nice fish up to 32 inches and 20 fish days are possible. Prewitt had a lot of fish, but it was high and muddied when we were there and the carp smaller, 24 inches or less.
I had been avoiding North Sterling due to the massive fish kill in 2012. I figured it was still in a rebuilding stage and it would be a while before it was back to its old self. In terms the wiper and walleye, I think thatís still true. Not so with sunfish, crappie, drum, and especially carp, they are fishing well. In fact, Iíve never before experienced carp fishing like I did last Saturday.
Not sure what others would consider a great dayís carp fishing, but for me catching one or two an hour is very good, catching two or three an hour is great fishing, potentially two dozen fish in a dayís fishing.
Few fly fishers ďblindĒ fish for carp, something I do successfully. Itís easy to do. Locate areas with good numbers of active fish, use high contrast patterns that get to the bottom, and fish them with short non-aggressive retrieves. Itís highly effective in situations where sight fishing is difficult, such as stained waters. The drawback in those situations, especially during spawn, is carp will slap the fly rather than eating it. This results in foul-hooked fish, something I hate. If most of the fish are being foul-hooked, I fish elsewhere.
Back to Saturday at North Sterling, I started out working down the dam face around 7:30 in the morning with a sinking line and it wasnít a half dozen casts before I had my first hookup, a good start to the day. I noticed there were gulls randomly picking off shad, but no signs of boils. However, there was a lot surface action that I soon figured out was carp. A goodly number of them were chasing shad. I started casting to the carp ďrisesĒ with my sinking rig and to my surprise I got strikes, sometimes on the drop, others after a few strips. If a saw a cruising fish, a cast to it often resulted in an aggressive take. The action was so good that by 10:30 Iíd landed two dozen carp. Yes, I was counting.
Most of the fish were near the surface, so I changed tactics and went to a floating line with a combination of a carp slider and peacock woolly bugger, a slow sinking rig. This made casting to rises and cruising fish even more effective. Enough so that Iíd quit counting after three dozen and that was before lunch. The action never let up. I fished until 6:00 p.m. before calling it. I was tired and by my estimation, I landed five to six dozen carp, plus a half dozen drum, a few crappies, and a number of sunfish.
The day wasnít all glory. After landing a carp, I noticed the screws were loose on my net. I laid the rod down and proceed to repair the well-used net. Unfortunately, I didnít pay attention to where my flies landed, which happened to be over the side of the boat. A carp took the fly along with my rod, reel, and line on a trip to Davy Jonesí locker. Later, I broke another rod while landing a carp. While Iím suspicious it was defective, as ferrules rare break in my experience being down two rods on the day wasnít good. Plus, I persisted in fishing two flies which resulted in a number of double hookups. I saw the two hooked carp, but only ever landed one, if that. It took a number of break offs before I went to a single fly.
It was a day that memories are made from, some great, some not so great, but all making for great stories.