Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why Fly Fish for Carp and Why Are They So Hard to Catch?

Via In the Riffle:

Over the past few years, I have been asked why I fish for carp and ridiculed for doing so.  Carp are viewed as trash fish and most anglers, especially fly fisherman, ignore them.  So I am going to spill the beans for you and give you the top 5 reasons on why to fish for carp.
Reason #1: Carp Get Really….REALLY BIG!Carp grow to enormous sizes. The average fish in the South Platte River is 8-15 pounds, with a large amount of fish growing to well over 20 pounds.  Catching a 20 pound fish, on a fly rod and in a river is very special.  To land a 20 pound fish, in moving water, your angling skills must be top notch.  Carp do fight hard.  Maybe not as hard as a Trevally or a Tarpon, but when you live in Colorado, a carp is the next best thing.  Carp are bulldogs, and fight just like it.  They play dirty, running into logs and wrapping you around rocks.  They use their weight against you and never seem to give up.  Carp are stubborn creatures and will fight till the bitter end.  Just as you think you sealed the deal, one flap of the tail and the fish is making another run!
Reason #2: Carp Will Challenge You and Make You BetterCarp are not easy to catch.  Everyone ignores this fact or does not believe it.  In a previous blog I explain Why Carp Are So Hard To Catch.  Fishing a unscented fly, on a fly rod and getting a carp to eat is not easy.  Carp are big targets and are easy to snag.  Snagging a fish is not the same as getting one to eat.  Scenting your flies or using bait is not the same.  Just as using the same tactic for trout is not the same.  Fishing for carp makes you a better angler….Seriously!  If you can consistently catch carp on a fly, then trout and other species will come much easier.  Carp fishing also makes you a more well rounded angler.  Understanding more about the sport and about how other fish act will give you a deep understanding of fly fishing.  Most people who turn their nose up at carp, cannot catch them in the mouth or have never tried it!
Reason #3: Carp Live Close to HomeWith gas prices on the rise, staying close to home is more important than ever.  For me, staying close to home means I get to fish more.  I am able to fish for a couple hours, before or after work.  Carp live in urban areas, such as the South Platte River in Denver.  Carp can live in ponds, rivers and reservoirs all the same.  This is what is so great about carp.  They can be found everywhere, big and small.  They live in golf course ponds right in your back yard.  Many people are less than 15 minutes away from a carp fishery.  Carp are spread though out the United States.  They can be found all over the place!
Reason #4: CrowdsFly Fishing has become a popular sport.  The growing number of anglers are beginning to crowd our more popular rivers.  This is not a negative thing, it just is what it is.  I welcome new fly fisherman and love teaching them the sport.  Carp fishing is a good excuse to get away from the crowds.  Our western tailwaters become very crowded on the weekends, and carp fishing a breath of fresh air.  I rarely see other anglers fishing for carp, and when I do I usually know them.  It is not something you have to do every time you go fishing, just do not be afraid to try it!
Reason #5: Carp Fishing is FUN!This is the real reason why I fly fish for carp.  I enjoy it!  For me, it is as simple as that.  Fly fishing is supposed to be fun.  Your fly fishing experiences are your own and no one can take that away from you.  For those of you who do not agree, that is fine.  You are entitled to your opinion and I am as well.  Most who do not agree, are fly fishing for the wrong reasons.  And that is perfectly fine.  Just leave the people having fun alone!
One of the arguments that I hear a lot is that carp are stinky.  Well..they may be, but every fish smells just like a carp…FISHY!  And yes they are slimy, but what fish isn’t?  Trout, Bass, Bonefish and every fish is slimy.  That is how they stay alive!  Carp are just big and come with more slime.  Everyone who trash talks carp, has never tried to catch one.
Why are carp so hard to catch on a fly?  Carp are a wary creature and can be very frustrating to catch on a fly.  We are going to explore why carp are so hard to catch and also gain a new understanding about this misunderstood fish.
People often ask, “why fly fish for carp”?  The answer is simple.  Carp are the largest readily available freshwater fish in the US.  They can easily reach weights into the 30-40 pound range and they pull really hard.  Carp are also perfect to practice on.  If you can catch a carp in clear skinny water then a bonefish, redfish or permit will come much easier.  Carp are extremely difficult to get to eat in clear water.  Carp are considered one of the most difficult freshwater fish to catch on the fly and there are several reasons why.
Carp have a massive lateral line.  This is what allows the fish to “feel” his surroundings.  Any vibration or sound in the water is felt by the fish.  This can be you talking, walking, wading or even your fly hitting the water.  Carp are most often spooked by your fly line and fly hitting the water.  Once you know and understand this, you can target carp much better.  Your fly must either land softly or land well away from the fish.  Same goes for you too.  Carp can feel you yelling and moving in the water.  I usually fish from the bank or in ankle deep water.  Try not to send waves across the water, that is an alarm bell going off for a carp.
Carp also talk to each other.  Well not by voice, but they do communicate.  Once you spook one carp in a pod, the entire group is spooked.  This is because carp emit an emergency pheromone once spooked.  This alerts the rest of the fish in the pod that they are in danger.  I try to find small groups of fish or single fish.  I like to avoid the large pods of cruising fish.  You make one mistake and you blow the whole thing.  A single fish that is eating off the bottom is usually my favorite fish to fish to.
Carp most often eat by smell.  Ever noticed the whiskery things on a carp’s mouth?  Those are barbels, which are scent glands.  Carp use them to “smell” their food.  This is also why carp are so easy to catch on smelly bait or garlic balls.  They cannot resist the smell.  But an unscented fly is a different story.  Getting a carp to see your fly is more difficult than you think.  The fly must be a foot to 2 feet directly in front of the fish.  If it is not, he will not see it.  Carp do not have the best vision down in front of them.  Once they see the fly and move toward it, do NOT move your fly.  If you do, they can often lose track of it.  They are relying on scent and feel to find your fly.  Once the carp is on your fly, do NOT set the hook.  Let him eat it.  They eat your fly by sucking it in.  I count to three once he is on it and then set the hook.  Do it to soon and you yank it right away from him.
Fly fisherman put a lot of emphasis on carp flies.  Really, it is not that complicated (at least in Colorado it is not).  Carp love to eat crayfish and worms, but they will eat just about anything.  Carp are opportunistic, they never really “key in” on a specific thing and ignore everything else.  If you make it look like food, they will usually eat it.  I carry just a handle full of flies with me.  Mainly Woolly Bugger variations in several different sizes.  I also carry worms, eggs and large nymphs.  There are certain times of year when you do need other flies.  Cottonseed flies come in handy during the spring.  The carp on the South Platte also eat Tricos in the summer, so Parachute Adams are a must have.
Carp will never get the recognition they deserve, and that is fine with me.  Once I introduce people to fly fishing for carp, they get it.  The eat and the pull of a carp speaks for itself.  Once you see your first tailing carp and it eats your fly, you will understand it as well.  Yes they are slimy, but what fish isn’t?  Everyone who knocks it, has never tried it.  Once you get past that, you are in for a real treat!


No comments:

Post a Comment