CARP UNLIMITED™ STORIES ™
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The full moon and the warming river water triggered the carp into spawning this weekend. As I waded into the Brazos river Sunday there were carp everywhere in their full spawn mode. Giant carp and little carp and medium size carp were splashing in the shallows in multiple pods up and down the river as far as I could see.
During the brief spawn frenzy they pay little attention to people. I waded around and through them, with carp barely moving out of my way, sometimes with carp darting between my legs. It was an irresistible urge to cast a fly to them. Small hope of getting one to take the bait during this time, but there they were; and sight casting was too much to resist.
I cast to them, in front of them, in the middle of them and behind them, but no takers. After a long while I gave up and started fishing for the usual suspects – perch and bass. I had good luck too. I caught quite a few of each. During this time the carp continued to splash all around the area, sounding like cows falling into the river. Carp fins and backs humping up above the water were everywhere. I caught one particularly large black crappie and as I brought it in, a carp was shadowing it closely, as though curious about what it was up to. When I had fished the honey hole to a standstill I headed home.
I crossed over to the shallow water where I could wade with less resistance to head home, and of course I was wading through the carp again. Primitive instinct took me over yet again, and thought knowing it was useless I started sight casting to the carp. The last cast I made that day hooked a big one.
I was elated! I had a giant carp on my six weight fly rod with its four pound leader. This was going to be fun. It was too – for the first twenty minutes. The carp, on feeling the hook, surged into the deeper water immediately. Because the shallow water was roiled with mud from the multitude of carp spawning in it, I didn’t get a look at the one on my hook, and when it hit the deeper water (a little over waist deep on me) it hugged the bottom and I couldn’t see it. But it pulled with an intensity and ferocity that I had never before felt on a fly rod.
This carp surged up and down the river and side to side. It took off line so fast that it was stinging my hand. I watched as all of my fly line came off the spool and the carp continued to run off some of the backing line. I couldn’t pull too hard against the light leader without breaking it, so I followed the fish wherever it wanted to go, keeping as much pressure on it as I thought my light leader could bear.
The second twenty minutes or so wasn’t quite as much fun as the first. My arm was getting pretty tired pulling against the constant strain. I tried to switch to my left hand, but it was too awkward with the reel set up for a right hander. The carp led me up and down the river as it kept pulling like a tractor and not seeming to tire at all. By this time I was cussing at the carp because it had deliberately gotten me into this mess.
I am not sure how long I fought against it, but I am pretty sure it was over an hour before I actually saw it clearly enough to get a gauge on its size. It was huge, way over twenty pounds. I also got the first hint that it wasn’t hooked in the mouth, but foul hooked on the side just behind the gills. This placement of hook gave the fish enormously more leverage than if it had been hooked in the mouth.
By then I was pretty much past the “this is fun” stage and was well into the “I’ll be glad to get this over with” stage. I tried transmitting this telepathically to the carp. I kept sending it mental signals to come on in and I would remove the hook and let it go. Guess what, carp aren’t telepathic. I know this because it fought on and on and on without any lessening of strength.
Finally, long after I had willed it to be; the carp began to weaken and slow and come to the surface more often. I kept pumping it in until I got all of my line back and had the line as short as I could get it and still handle the fish.
After what seemed like a week from the first thrill of feeling it on the hook, it came up next to me and rolled over just right, and the hook slipped neatly out of its side. I use barbless hooks so it was only a matter of angle. A perfect release actually, as I didn’t have to horse it over to the bank and drag it out of the water to get the hook loose. The carp darted off and I headed home, completely worn out and steadily cursing all carp as I stepped over and through them on the way back.
I had caught one carp before on my fly rod, but it was about six pounds and that one was fun all the way.
This giant one though? That was another story. Or am I just carping?
Tight Lines, Mick
The snow is melting and mud everywhere! This can mean only one thing Wyoming, spring has arrived! As winter releases it’s frozen grip on the land and water, my thoughts, probably like most of you, turn to fishing. I have been over gear, check every ferrule and every wrap of my fly rod, cleaned and dressed the line on my reel, organized my fly box (three times actually), and checked my waders for holes and tears.
But this year has been different. Normally during this ritual my thoughts focus on large wild trout, wide red slabs laying in the rocks, speckled browns rising to a dry fly, and the leap of running fish. This year, however, I close my eyes and I see a large golden slab of pure muscle, tail up, nose down in the rocks, I hear the scream of my drag as the fish runs from the hook up, and I hear the hum of overstretched fly line slicing through the water. I see the big round trumpet snouts gulping the surface of the water, and my size 2 dry fly disappearing into the gaping maw. All of this action is set close to home, right here in Wyoming, and yes I am dreaming of the lowly carp!
You see, last season, on a whim, and a bit of a dare, I spent a day with Mark fishing for carp at Pathfinder reservoir. That day of fishing rivaled any of the saltwater trips I have taken, and most of the trout fishing I have done. It was sight fishing at its best. Stalking tailing fish in the shallows, and throwing drys to gulping pods of fish. The day was one long battle after another as fish from 6 to 15 pounds took my fly and ran for deep water. By the end of the afternoon my arms were so fatigued and shaking I could no longer cast. But this does not mean that the fishing was easy, these fish are spooky and run from the slightest disturbance, and even when feeding they will not come to a fly, the presentation must be perfect, just in front of the fish, but not close or they spook.
This trip was more than just arm busting fun, it was also a great educational experience. I have done some saltwater fishing on the fly, even with some success. After my day of carp fishing with Mark, I am sure that my saltwater success will increase dramatically. Mark taught me new techniques for casting, something he called the Tarpon roll, I can now start with a fly in my hand, and in one motion make a 50 foot cast to a tailing fish. I have learned how to stalk fish in the shallow flats, and how to present a fly to a tailing fish. This information alone was worth the trip. Anyone who is planning a saltwater trip, especially to the flats needs to spend a day chasing carp with Mark first. This is the best tune up there is for bonefish and permit. Mark is a great teacher, I look forward to more trips with him this summer.
So, this year, as I organize my fly box, it is not the size 22 nymphs that are being matched by color, it is the size 2 weighted wooly burgers, it is not the size 18 mosquito patterns that are being checked over, it is the size 0 royal wolfs. Trout fishing has become a way to get ready for the heat of late summer and tailing carp.
I was on a trip this weekend to the Big Horn and while nymphing for some trout look what I found. This fish was taken with a Winston BIIx 5wt with a Ross Evolution reel using 4x tippet. He hit on a tan sow bug at a depth of eleven feet. Not familiar with carp but to me this guy was a heck of a big fish and a great fight. This fish was pulling the drift boat around. It was the second carp my guide has taken in tens years on the river. But by far it was his largest. He was pretty excited.
So today I thought I would go out and break in my new custom made 3# 7’5” fly rod on some trout. Unbeknownst to me there was yet another fishing addiction lurking in the waters of the North Platte River. I saw some carp under the bridge rising to small flies. I had recalled seeing some carp unlimited stickers on a truck around Casper, and had read some stories on the website, and so I thought, what the hell? I am hooked!!! I caught 4 in about a two hour time frame!!! My muscles screamed for respite, my reel screamed as we went to the backing time and time and time again! All I can say is I am ecstatic! Exhausted and exhilarated. I will be stalking more carp, no doubt about it!!!! Thank you for informing us about Carp fishing with fly rods. Genius!
Nathaniel W. Dorr
You will like this fish story. Remember that 11 foot Sage XP 6 weight fly rod that went missing from the drift boat on our way back to your fly shop and then they found on the dirt road behind your place? Well, I can confirm it is OK, no damage to it at all. I went on a guided float trip on the lower Yakima River with Steve Worley of the Worley Bugger Fly Co. in Ellensburg, WA. We were down near the Tri-Cities area, fairly close to the mouth of the Yakima River where it dumps into the Columbia River. It was my first Samllmouth Bass trip and I was having a blast catching 2 pound and smaller bass. As I was stripping in my large streamer and it was around 40 feet in front of the boat, a huge golden flash came ripping across the water at a 90 degree angle and slammed the streamer really hard. As soon as it felt the hook it took off downstream almost taking me into my backing. Steve was rowing as fast as he could to keep up with the fish. I finally got it stopped and started reeling it in, very slowly with a ton if resistance and fight. My poor old rod was literally bent double the whole time I fought that fish. But we finally got it netted, a 12 pound Carp.OK, now I have some serious respect for Carp. It made me a believer.
WYOMING STATE RECORD - POSTED BY WYOMING GAME AND FISH - 11/10/2005
FIRST DAY EVER OF WYOMING FISHING PRODUCES NEW STATE RECORD CARP RIVERTON - A one-day fishing license produced an all-time state record for Bobby Brown of Harrison, Tenn.
Between the traveling evangelist's Riverton services, Brown was guided on what was supposed to be a trout fishing trip by Forrest Kuhn of Riverton to Pilot Butte Reservoir Sept. 28. Only one fish was caught that morning - and that wasn't a trout, but officially 34 pounds, 15 ounces of new state record carp.
"I said 'that's a big carp' right after I hooked him and saw his tail," Brown said. "But Forrest said 'No can't be. There aren't any carp in the lake.'"
After 30 minutes of following the fish's runs up and down the shoreline, Brown proved there was at least one carp - a 35.4-incher -- in the impoundment near Morton, about 25 miles northwest of Riverton. The fish took a night crawler on the end of 10-pound-test line.
The articulate 71-year-old tries to work some hunting or fishing into his travels. He was deer hunting in Virginia when interviewed about his first day ever of Wyoming fishing and had a Florida deep sea fishing trip grounded by Hurricane Katrina. He landed a 20-pound carp in North Carolina once, but the Wyoming carp is the biggest freshwater fish of his life.
In getting the fish with a 26.5 girth officially checked and weighed, Brown said, "Everyone was so gracious and interested. It was just delightful to have the experience."
Dave Dufek, Wyoming Game and Fish Department fisheries supervisor in Lander, didn't think there were carp in Pilot Butte Reservoir, either. "Although we'd heard a few reports, we had never seen carp in the reservoir," Dufek said.
Brown's fish replaced a 32.09-pounder on the record books that was caught Aug. 1, 2004 in Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
The North American record carp weighed 57 pounds 13 ounces and was caught in a tidal basin near Washington, D.C. in May 1983.
(contact: Jeff Obrecht)
MEMORIAL DAY CARP
My buddy Jeremy and I went out Memorial Day weekend with the goal of catching a “Citation” carp— in Virginia a trophy fish award is given for carp of 20 lbs or 34”—on a fly rod. We started the weekend catching smaller carp 16-26 inches from around a few docks, testing the limits of my 6-weight in keeping fish from wrapping us around the pilings. We landed our first few fish using a trout-sized net, which wasn’t easy to say the least, but it still beat trying to reach into the water from the dock or boat to pull the fish out. Realizing that we needed an upgrade in equipment if we wanted to accomplish our goal, we went to the local fishing store and picked up a large striper net. Our wives laughed at us for even dreaming we’d need a net of that size. We knew what we needed though and got the last laugh. With the net we learned to push our limits to land and release the fish quickly without tiring them out.
All the practice paid off when we finally spotted a carp that we knew would surpass the size minimum for a citation. I made a good leading cast to him but a much smaller carp beat him to the fly as it dropped. I was crushed since I knew that fighting the small one would spook the bigger one for the rest of the day, but set the hook anyways. What happened next taught me a huge lesson. The second I set the hook I heard a loud CRACK. Sure enough, my tippet had snapped and I lost my fly as both fish darted away. I retrieved my line and noticed that all the previous fish and pilings had really taken a toll on the last 3 inches of tippet, explaining the first lost fly of the weekend. Thankfully I had another white bead-head bugger in the same size, so I clipped the worn portion and tied it on, using an improved clinch knot this time since these fish weren’t 6 inch brook trout any more. I won’t put off re-tying flies when fishing for big fish ever again.
That being said, I’ve never been happier about a snapped line—5 minutes later the big fish actually cruised back in and I made a perfect cast that only he could take. He inhaled the fly on the drop, just as I’d been envisioning in my dreams the previous few nights. I strip-set and drove the hook home as he darted for deep water under the floating portion of the dock. His first run wrapped the line three-quarters of the way around a piling but Jeremy was able to maneuver the boat in such a way that I regained a direct connection to the fish quickly. Oh yeah, our boat motor was virtually inoperable so his maneuvering throughout the fight consisted of propelling an 18-foot Boston Whaler with a canoe paddle. It will never cease to amaze me that the fish ran for the deep, relatively open water under the floating dock rather than into the piling-infested shallow water right by it. Nonetheless, fighting a trophy carp under a dock from a boat with a six-weight was difficult enough. My rod tip had to go in the water as far as I could extend to keep the line from hanging on the underside of the floating dock and to make sure that he didn’t stay near the surface where he could break off on boat props. Having learned a lot about how much pressure I could apply palming my heavily-set drag, I kept the fish out of my backing by resolving to keep a stalemate of gaining a few yards followed by his heavy-handed run in response. A tip from Lefty Kreh’s book, Fly-Fishing Techniques and Tactics, worked amazingly on turning the big fish from side to side to tire him out quicker. The fight endured for a few minutes until I realized that he was moving out from under the floating part of the dock, towards another piling where he’d be able to break me off. We could see my fly line in the water as he swung around, but we realized that the fish was spooky enough that if Jeremy got on the dock and jumped up and down the fish would make a run in the opposite direction from where he was. Jeremy got on the dock by the piling and made as much noise as a carp-obsessed fly-fisherman can make, spooking the fish back under the floating portion without hanging up.
15 minutes and several close calls later, I finally worked the fish into range of our now-inadequately-sized striper net. Jeremy made a well-timed stab as I slid the fish over the net, but the second the fish felt aluminum he bolted, this time straight for the row of pilings I feared from the beginning. The fish was worn out as he turned a quarter, half, three-quarters and all the way around a piling 10 feet from me. Everything moved in slow motion as I realized that he was worn out but had finally gotten me in the position where I was powerless. Relaxing the pressure, I let him swim for a few seconds without strong resistance, hoping that I could ease off and rotate him back around the piling the way he had come. Sure enough, easing off helped me coax him back around. We repeated this exchange of moves once more before I finally swung him close enough for another attempt at netting. This time there was no doubt we were landing it, until the net started to strain under the weight of the fish. We weren’t going to lose the fish to a broken net, so we team lifted the carp with the net underneath him into the boat. After a quick trip in our live-well (sized for offshore, no way would he have fit in a bass boat live-well) to the local marina, he measured an official citation length of 37.5 inches and a weight of 32 lbs, 5 oz. A few pictures later, we revived the fish until he swam off on his own strength. We must have been a funny sight to watch, but all the luck fell our way and the fish really was a miraculous catch that made it a Memorial Day to remember.
" ADDICTED TO CARP"
BY TONY ERICKSON
I found a small 'flat' in an urban lake near my house that was right next to the fishing pier. The water was shallow so everyone walked past this spot to go fishing at the end of the pier. I would chum the area with canned corn to call in the fish and then sight cast either nymph or corn patterns to individual fish. (Chumming is often needed in large urban lakes to get the fish in shallow)
The average size of the fish at this spot was about five pounds. I used my short 4 wt trout rod because of the great sport and never had much trouble landing these fish. That changed when a 30+ pound carp decided to sample my chum field. I made a half dozen horrible casts before dropping the corn fly in just the right spot and the fish vacuumed up my fly. All heck broke loose when I set the hook. The fish headed for deep water at high speed. The first run never ended. That fish took me deep into my backing and when the end of the spool came...snap. I was hopelessly outclassed and very happy.
After that day I switched to a six wt with stout leaders and landed a 20+ pound fish the next week. That fish turned on a dime and rushed a couple of yards to slam my bonefish fly hopping along the bottom. During the 20 minute battle, a crowd gathered around and they ended up being as excited as I was. All were amazed that I was fishing carp with a fly rod and nearly everyone asked "did you snag it?"
We have much educating to do.
Big, strong, spooky, smart, readily available fish are hard to pass up and I have come to have great respect for carp.
Four Rivers Fly Fishing, Inc
heres the story,
went up to the reef, and fished in between alcova and reef dam. fished it pretty much all day and couldnt even get one of the hogs to bite. i threw everything i had at em, and no takers, not even on a bugger. So we decided to go up and try Alcova, since it was to late to float the river. we decided to try black beach because of the big brown mounted in the corner store. we set out on our pontoons, and went trying for some browns. started off in the deep water and caught a few stocker rainbows. then that damn wind kicked in, and it was pretty rough on the lake. so i decided to just throw on a tube jig and drift with the wind and jig. i ended up in the cove that is really muddy, and noticed a fish feeding towards the shallows. i hurried over and threw the tube jig at it and ......FISH ON.... the fish took off dragging my pontoon.... i thought i had hooked into a monster brown. fought the fish for quite a long time, the fish would come close then run.... all i could see was gold flashes, so i was pretty sure it was a brown..... but when i got it close enbough to land it, it was a monster carp......lol..... a LITTLE disapointed but it was still a rush, and lots of fun
By Mark Boname