FLY ◎ BAIT ◎ INNOVATE
MARK ERDOSY “Mr P” )TONY. . $.CARTLIDGE /012 ) ,, JUSTIN WATKINS * $+ ’( ) $ % %& PAUL ROSE JOHN MONTANA CHRIS CARDEN
* ) ( $’ % & #% $ # # " !
BIG GUN ALERT!!
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) 2 1 MEGA CARP 0 / . $ ..
CELEBRATION COMING SOON!
REELY? BIGGER TEXAS IN
TEXAS 44 ACTION plus WE TALK TO TEXAS PARKS & WILDLIFE
MARIO DAMIAN & MIGUEL RUIZ GO BIG OR GO HOME
Contents 8 | Editorial - Dan Frasier 14 | What The Fork - Tony Cartlidge 30 | Orvis Carp Celebration 38 | I find myself closer... - Mr P 44 | Cali Gold Rush - Miguel Ruiz
52 | Low Vis Carpin’ - David Wratchford 64 | Contemplation - Justin Watkins 70 | Obsessed in Texas - Barry John 80 | Helios2 Review - John Montana Bartlett 84 | Carping the Column - Mark Erdosy 92 | Cash in the Corners - Chris Carden 96 | Conway on Carp - Dan Frasier 104 | The Carp Doldrums - Zach Jansen & Ben Muraski 110 | Training Yourself - Paul Rose 116 | Texas Parks & Wildlife - Tony Cartlidge 128 | Reely? - CarpPro Prostaffers
Cover: Mark Erdosy author of the acclaimed “Carping the Column” articles
TONY Cartlidge - Lead Editor Tony Cartlidge is a writer, editor, journalist, blogger and marketing specialist who started fishing as a kid in the city parks of Liverpool, England. He caught his first carp at age 12 and has been hooked since. Having lived in the US for almost two decades, Tony moved to Texas in 2008 and now targets smallmouth buffalo just as much as carp
DAN Frasier - Editor Raised in South Dakota, Dan was introduced to fly fishing on a family trip to Breckenridge Co. Coming home to South Dakota, he knew he wanted to fly fish but the only obvious species was carp. Dan taught himself to fly fish on those carp over the course of a decade. In the process he began to blog about his exploits and became friends with some of the most influential fly fishermen for carp in the game. Dan found the CarpPro.net forum and quickly became integrated as part of the team. When CarpPro began looking for an editor specifically geared for the Fly Fishing niche, Dan was brought in to fill that role.
DAVID Smith - Layout & Design After founding USCARPPROmagazine David soon realized that fly fishermen were targeting carp. He made every effort to connect with this branch of the sport through regular articles, even making the long trek to MI from his home in California to meet David McCool and wade the freezing cold flats of an early spring Traverse City. A bait angler for over 30 years he understands the rise of the sport and the passion carp anglers develop for their quarry. CARPPRO™ and it’s contents are copyright to USCARPPRO llc 2013 all rights reserved. No material may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher. We’ll accept unsolicited manuscripts and photographs but accept no responsibility for their safe return. The views and opinions expressed in these pages are those of the authors and not necessarily USCARPPRO llc or it’s affiliates and employees. Enjoy.
Editorial ☀ CARPPRO ✍ 2013
’m in the middle of a serious ice/ snow storm here in South Dakota, complete with downed power lines and people with real problems. You would think that would give me pause before bitching about something as inconsequential as my ever-shortening carp season. Well… you would until you got to know me better. It’s been a rough winter here and approaching the beginning of the season is like approaching a blackhole; the closer I get the more time seems to slow down.
So I’m iced in, bored and can’t think about much other than getting on the water. My boxes are full so I can’t even bring myself to tie flies. It got so bad that earlier I was looking back through my instagram pictures and I stumbled upon one that’s labeled “winter induced fly tying.” It’s from 20 weeks ago. 20 WEEKS! It’s been a long winter but it will end; Hell, it has most places. Many CarpPro ProStaffers are already getting productive time on the water.
Trevor Tanner has managed some fish despite tough conditions and limited fishing time this spring. Adam Hope is just CRUSHING fish in Pennsylvania and Mark Erdosy is finding them too, despite putting in more time after toothier critters early on (read he is jonesing for a musky). John Montana has been putting up epic numbers in the Pacific Northwest (no I will NOT get more specific about his location... I value my life too much) and all our pros on the bait side in Texas and California are into fish. The rest of us will just have to wait. Luckily, patience is the only discernible virtue with which fisherman are credited. I’ve handled the winter months in the usual way. I’ve vacillated between being happy for the break; having time to tie and write… oh and be a present boyfriend, and being despondent about my lack of fishing time and the length of time until spring. A trip to warmer weather to fish and having all the usual fishing
related winter activities have kept the insanity at bay. But now I’m ready. My gear is cleaned or swapped out for new. It’s all organized and stowed in places that make perfect sense and just won’t feel right when I’m on the water. I’ve used Google Maps to electronically scout some new water that deserves a look and planned a couple of carp trips for the coming summer that will be fun, should be good and could be life changing. I’m as prepared for a season of hard fishing as I get and now it’s time to just wait.
❝ But now
That said, things may look a little different out there than they have in the past. Here at CarpPro we’ve seen an absolute explosion of interest in chasing carp on the fly. Our forum is adding new participants every day. New fishermen with new flies and new ideas will be out in force in some places. We are consistently fielding questions about what flies carp eat, where and how to fish them and what is the right tackle to use. The industry is noticing. Major manufacturers have seen the coming wave and are getting in front of it. Guides will be guiding for carp and carp events will continue to spring up. CarpPro has been working for months with a group of high profile flyfishing people and companies headed by Orvis on a spectacular event that will be announced in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for that. In addition, the flies you’ve yearned for from the best carp fisherman out there
Fortunately, the wait shouldn’t be much longer. The days are already noticeably longer and sporadically some days creep up into the right air temperatures. Spring will get here sooner or later and that carp will be there waiting.
Editorial ☀ CARPPRO ✍ 2013
will be commercially available. CarpPro itself is in the final stages of a complete line of carp flies… but we aren’t alone. Things are changing, mostly for the good. This is all very exciting and a little scary in that “the spring will eventually get here” kinda way. It’s happening, that’s for sure, but how exactly, and when, are anyone’s guess. In the end, the fishing will still be good some days and bad on others. The weather will cooperate, or it won’t. And people will react to it all in keeping with their personalities. For those of us that have fought the good fight to legitimize carp as a worthy fishing target, the impending explosion of interest feels like a success. When our fish are as hardened and cynical as the fish on the Denver South Platte due to fishing pressure, it may feel like a success we shouldn’t have wanted. That said, fishing is about enjoyment and most of the enjoyment is in community and being in contact with like-minded people. Be ready. The number of people in our community is about to get a lot bigger.
Commentary â˜ƒ CARPPRO
What The FORK! This years WCC Texas 44 Carp and Buffalo challenge was exactly that. Lake Fork continues to live up to itâ€™s reputation as a premier mixed fishery but, even the best play second fiddle to the whims of the weather. Now that said the event proved a nail biter, anglers excelled, and it was simply a wonderful example of the potential of North American rough fish tournaments. Enjoy a CarpPro eyes view of this phenomenon
Oak Ridge Marina played host to the event for the second year
The KICK Off We were treated to a TexMex extravaganza, complete with a Wild West shoot out!! Thanks LFSA
Drink and Tidy up responsibly!!
Commentary ☃ CARPPRO
Concentration was absolute
TASKA made it’s North American Debut
The Draw AKA MAKE OR BREAK
Commentary â˜ƒ CARPPRO
Prostaffer Josh Snow and team partner Ryan Daniels took home the big money with the Big 4 Buffalo prize, the Biggest Buffalo prize and the Biggest carp plus Buffalo prize...with just two fish! Shane Hines and Jr CarpPro prostaffer Austin Anderson took the Big 4 Carp prize with a late charge
winds, and an abundance of fish, both carp and smallmouth buffalo. This time around, a bitterly cold front brought icy winds howling from the north, creating whitecap conditions and putting the fishing off. Conditions meant just handful of carp were teased out during the event, which had doubled in size
CarpPro and Rod Hutchinson Baits swept the big money prizes at the second annual Lake Fork Carp and Buffalo Challenge.
CarpPro Coverage with Tony Cartlidge
that just beat out Jason Aylott and Frank Kessler, Wayne Boon and George Diamond, and CarpPro prostaffer Richard Somerville and his team mate Stewart Roffe. Conditions were radically different from the 2012 event. Last year's event saw warm weather and light
from the inaugural tourney. Forty teams battled the elements and, although only 15 teams got on the board, all anglers are to be commended for sticking with it under very tough going. They certainly showed why this event is billed as a Challenge and not a walk in the park.
Prostaffer Austin Anderson doing what he does best
Commentary ☃ CARPPRO
Cold? It was freezing!!!
The surprise story of the tourney was the late capture of a 55lb 3oz buffalo by Josh Snow, just 5 minutes before the tournament ended. Fishing a peg adjacent to the hotly favored peg 27 at 515 bridge west, Snow and teammate Ryan Daniels could only look on in envy as Kevin Olivier and August Wells, representing Austin Carp Anglers, landed the first buffalo of the event, a 45lb 15oz beauty. It looked like it would be the winning buff right up until the end when, with just a few minutes to go in the 44 hour endurance event, Snow hit a short lift on his Hutchinson megaspice flavored tiger nut bait and heaved into the 55lb star of the show.
Commentary â˜ƒ CARPPRO
Prostaffer Josh Snow with his last gasp 55lb money fish. Fishing hard until the last minute paid off!
Pause for Thought Prostaffer Richard Somerville, so instrumental in the success of the Lake Fork Challenge, has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Please keep this incredible angler in your thoughts
Commentary â˜ƒ CARPPRO
Richard and his partner Stuart Roffe got amongst the fish
Prostaffers Gator and Billy West came prepared like all good paylakers do!!
Commentary â˜ƒ CARPPRO
Austin and partner Shane Hine catching at distance on MegaSpice
That's the beauty of the Big Four format of the event but, although it was sweet taste of success for Snow and Daniels after a disastrous run of setbacks leading up to the event, it was a bitter pill to swallow for Olivier and Wells. Hats off to the ACA crew though, as they showed what a class act they are despite being pipped at the post after 44 gruelling hours. CarpPro teams fished Rod Hutchinson Baits and flavors, with Megaspice producing best results.Â
Cali CarpPro pair Evan and Jered pulled a spot prize
Behind every great angler is a great Grandpa!
Yeah Baby!!! Josh and Ryan lap it up
Commentary ☃ CARPPRO
CarpPro would like to go on record and thank it's partners, Sundog Eyewear, Rod Hutchinson Baits, and Johnson Ross Tackle for Sundog provided a wealth of spot prizes with their Mela-Lens protective eyewear! providing prizes for the event. We would also like to thank tournament host, Jason Bernhardt of Wild Carp Companies, the Lake Fork Sportsman's Association for logistical support and marshals, Barry and Tracey at Oak Ridge Marina and all the fine staff for a top-notch welcome, and Richard Somerville for the efforts made throughout the year to find and map peg sites and publicize the venue. Full results and a list of all sponsors and partners are available at http:// wildcarpcompanies.com/wildcarp-companies-for-anglers/ Lake-Fork-C... and you can see as it happened coverage on the Lake Fork Carp and Buffalo Challenge Facebook page.
Jason of WCC with Jack his carp dog, rescued at the event
HOT NEWS HOT NEWS HOT NEWS
>>ORVIS >>CARP >>CELEBRATION Orvis has some big news for flyfishing carp fans in the coming weeks and CarpPro has a sneak preview of whatâ€™s in store. Orvis will officially declare June and July as Carp Celebration time! In conjunction with CarpPro, The Drake, Angling Trade and Kirk Deeter (you can pre-order his book, Flyfishing for Carp from CarpPro), and CarpPro pro-staffer John Montana and his Carp on the Fly blog. Dan Frasier has been working with Tom Rosenbauer of Orvis for many months to formulate the event in order to bring flyfishing for carp the recognition it deserves. The Orvis Carp Celebration will promote flyfishing for carp with giveaways, weekly drawings, online photo competitions to win hats, stickers and other cool prizes, including Access rods for photo category winners. Participation is open to everyone through photo submissions via social media. Photo categories will include prettiest fish, smallest, largest, ugliest, craziest
location, best video and more. The winner of the Best of Show award, voted on by Orvis fans viewers, will receive an Orvis Helios 2 rod. The Orvis carp celebration online competition is expected to be the largest online carp competition ever! In addition to the online photo competition, Tom Rosenbauer’s Orvis flyfishing podcast will feature carp throughout the months of the Carp Celebration, with special appearances by Kirk Deeter, Conway Bowman, our own Dan Frasier and more. Meanwhile, CarpPro and Orvis will be sharing stories and swapping guest appearances as Tom, Conway, Kirk and others appear for CarpPro’s podcasts. The Carp Celebration won’t be limited to online events either. Orvis is supporting and promoting catch and release fly-fishing competitions all over the USA, and will be represented at:
Jun 8 Jun 28 Aug 10 August 25 Sep 7
Carp Throwdown King of the Carp Carpocalypse 3 Rivers Carp Cup Carp Slam
Lake Henshaw, CA Bighorn Lake, MT Portland, OR Knoxville, TN Denver, CO
Orvis will also encourage local Orvis outlets across the country to hold their own local catch and release carp flyfishing competitions, host seminars, and create handouts and information for local anglers to learn more about how to access this growing sport. Education and promotion will be key to bringing carp to the forefront of the sport and CarpPro is thrilled that Orvis, as a major retailer and leading flyfishing brand, has stepped up to the plate. There is more to come for the Carp Celebration as Orvis finalizes the details and adds information right up to the official announcement. CarpPro will be bringing you all the latest news on our Facebook page and on our forum. Be sure to “Like” us on Facebook where we’ll bring you all the latest news, and then sign up for our chat forum so you don’t miss any updates!
Once you turn to the carp side, there’s no looking back!
HOT NEWS HOT NEWS HOT NEWS
images: courtesy of Orvis & John Montana
News ❖ CARPPRO ✿ 2013
Interested to see how these carp tournaments go down? Well, CarpPro recently Interviewed Adam McNamara of Carpocalypse CarpPro: Last year was the first year of Carpocalypse. Tell us what it was like.
days. I can’t think of many things that would be better. CP: Was it a success?
Adam McNamara: Last year was great; we didn’t really have a whole lot of expectations and we just set out to throw something that was
Adam: It really turned out well because it was more about just having a good time than being ultra
really fun. We had about 35 people show up in the middle of nowhere in the hot desert sun and fish for carp and drink some beer for a few
competitive. We had a great time last year but definitely made a few mistakes as well. We were looking for something that was a bit
different than some of the other tournaments that were already out there. We really wanted it to be fun for a beginner as well as an experienced angler, and that was a challenge. CP: How is this year's tournament shaping up?
everyone being included while we are growing bigger; thinking more along the lines of a celebration of what makes fly fishing for carp fun. We have some awesome prizes and some really cool people that will be there. It’s going to be great.
Adam: This year is shaping up really well so far. We learned a lot
CP: The Orvis Portland sStore sponsored last years event, but this year is getting support from the Orvis corporation.
of really important things last year and are using them to make improvements this year. We really want to hang on to the feeling of
Adam: Part of the reason we ran it on such a grass roots level is that it was sort of a last minute idea. I was
News ❖ CARPPRO ✿ 2013
working on the idea with Rob Tibbett and we were talking about wanting to do something like this and by the time we had worked out a final plan it was too late to really get it into the year’s budget. Without any support from the guys back in Vermont we probably would not have been able to pull it off last year. CP: Can you talk about why Orvis is expanding it's support and what that says about the future of carp tournaments? Adam: I think that what you are seeing is just the recognition that carp are an awesome game fish on the fly; the guys back in Vermont are into the carp thing for the same reason as the rest of us: because its fun. They are fly fishing junkies just like the rest of us. They were all dying to get out here for the tournament last year and I believe you will see an expanded presence this year. Even though we missed getting it into last year’s plans there was a bunch of excitement to see it through and everyone has been waiting to hear how this years tournament is going to turn out. CP: Talk about some of the ways your store has specifically promoted carp as a flyrod species and how well received those events
have been. CarpPro pro-staffer John Montana gives talks at the store, right? Adam: We are lucky enough to have John Montana frequent the shop. He is probably the person who inspired most of the people around here to give carp fishing a try. We have John give a carp presentation to start off our carping season every spring and then keep it going all summer. We try to have at least one day a month where anyone can meet with me or one of the other guys that work in the shop and do a little on the water group clinic. I am lucky in my shop to have Brian Marz working in here; he is a guide and another fanatic who loves to preach the gospel of the Carp. We really just go out of our way to keep reminding people that they are there and available. Once someone sticks one with a fly and sees their backing for the first time, they are converts for life. CP: What would you tell people thinking about getting involved in a tournament? Adam: The Columbia is an amazing fishery with huge numbers of fish as well as some real giants but it can be really challenging so bring your best game. Come ready to have fun, it’s all about the good
News ❖ CARPPRO ✿ 2013
time and not taking anything too seriously. Last year we gave away the top prize to the person who landed the smallest carp, it was great to watch the guys like John who are all about monster fish spend all day trying to catch
Adam: The venue is the biggest change from last year. Banks Lake was a spectacle to behold but the tournament could feel really crowded if there was a bigger turnout. It is also a million miles from nowhere and people had to
babies. We are currently getting a Facebook page and a webpage for this year’s tournament up and running but anyone who wants to can contact us at the shop. 503-598-7680 usstore088@o rvis.com
travel a long ways if they wanted to fish different water. This year we are moving it to Kennewick, WA. It’s about a three hour drive from Portland or Seattle and can be reached through a regular commercial airline flight. The area has plenty of water to spread out into as its located right by the confluence of the Columbia, Snake, and Yakima rivers.
CP: What will this year's venue be like?
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P I Find Myself Closer Than I Can Get
Tactics ⚄ CARPPRO ⦿ 2013
rom the side of the hill, dark shapes can be seen in the shallow water. Some are stationary and some are moving slowly. Beautiful, ankle to thigh deep water--Lordy, this is one of my favorite flats on the river! It’s already warm; fishing without a jacket is the order of the day. The blue sky, high sun, and light wind help us to spot carp from quite a distance. It makes the hunt so engaging.
feeding fish is just plain riveting. With stealth I want to get close to fish but not too close.
Keith is nice enough to suggest I go down and catch the first fish and says he wants to take pictures of me from the side of the hill. What kind of friend would I be to not let him have his way? I want to run down to the water like I am 12 years old.
A turn to the right and I am already moving to another tailer. The bottom of the river is soft enough here that the carp can root around and easily find protein but hard enough that wading is comfortable. The dearth of rocks helps me keep my eye on fish and still wade with stealth. I am nearing casting distance now for a second fish. When I reach a point where I know I can cover the distance with a cast, it becomes a dilemma as to whether to stop and take the cast or to move closer to improve the accuracy. Taking a few more steps I stop, lean forward slightly, and peel a little more line off the reel. False casting off-target helps the fish stay calm. The Carp Carrot lands past the fish and settles to the bottom. I strip the fly towards the carp’s dinner plate. There are no “devil clouds” today, the water is clear, the fish’s head is easily visible; I will be
From the moment I take my first step in the river today I am moving towards a tailing fish. More than one fish is visible but they are not feeding right next to each other. When I spook a fish, and I will spook some, it is not going to vacate the entire shoal. Slowly, deliberately, I move to that first tailer; he bolts before I get close enough to make a cast. Darn him. I love being able to see fish from a distance, well before they are in casting range. Positioning myself one deliberate step at a time in order to make an optimal cast to a
The trouble is that they can see me too so they frighten easily. The last few steps just before stopping to cast are the ones most likely to alert a carp to trouble. I want to get close enough to a fish to make a good cast but not so close as to send the carp away.
Tactics ⚄ CARPPRO ⦿ 2013
able to detect the take. It does not come. The carp glides away and I am left to wonder, In the end, who knows? Thankfully, today this is a target rich environment. Just 50 or 60 steps and I already see another fish. Not wanting to alarm this one, I freeze. He is a slow cruiser, more like what I call a “shopper,” a fish that is moving along the bottom, stopping briefly and then moving on. Though he is not tailing, this fish will eat the fly. A single well-placed cast in front of this carp earns a take. Yes, yes, yes! Warm water combines with lots of space, and this fish is quickly into the backing. I love carp fishing! The sighting of fish, the stalking, the casting, and visually detecting the take; this is what makes carp fishing the best. This is the stuff of winter daydreams. Without conscious choice or effort these are the carp fishing memories that come to mind at the fly tying vise. Memories that blend fluidly with images of anticipation for coming sessions. I bring these mental images to my early season fishing and yet I somehow conveniently forget that early season carp fishing so often
Did I get too close? Did he see me? Has this carp had his fill of bugs? Did he make my fly as a fake? Did the shadow of the line scare him? Does he just want to look for some different bugs? Am I going to have a tough day?
does not match these memories. It is a spring day and cloudy sky, murky water and some nasty wind make for a different day of fishing
than the one in my imagination. Wading ever so slowly, we are looking for the slightest hint that there is a tailing fish near us. Struggling to peer through the murk and the waves we watch for the momentary glimpse of a waving tail. The wind is blowing so hard we struggle to keep our balance.
Not only are we working to spot fish before they spot us, we are literally trying to keep from kicking them. This is not a day for 40-to-60 foot casts. We will be pitching, plopping
or dropping the fly to any fish we catch. Where is my beautiful weather? Where are my ideal conditions? How did I forget that this is so often what the early season is like?
Tactics ⚄ CARPPRO ⦿ 2013
I want the wind to stop blowing; it doesn’t. I want the clouds to disappear; they just move around trading places with each other. I want the water to be clear; it isn’t. I want conditions to be like the pleasant images I conjure during the winter when I’m daydreaming while sat at my vise. They’re not.
The Carp Carrot This is early season carp fishing. I want to get just close enough to fish to be able to make perfect casts. In the spring I don’t get close to fish as much as I find myself close to fish. In fact, I usually end up much closer to fish than I want to be. When I think of how far I need to stay away from fish in July and August to keep from spooking them I realize that in the spring, often, quite inadvertently, I find myself much closer than I can get in the summer. On a clear summer day I could almost never get close enough to a fish to drop the fly in front of him. Those summer days are the days of carp fishing I enjoy the most. Those are the days I fantasize
about the most. They are the days that bring anticipation and hope to the winter. In carp fishing, like a lot of life, things don’t always work out the way I hope. Things don’t always work out the way I remember them happening in the past. In carp fishing, like life, my wishful thinking and my imagination get carried away sometimes. As I begin my early season fishing I remember that this is not yet the summer that I so crave. Blue sky, high sun, calm water, and long casts to tailing fish are still in the future. I have to adapt my strategies for the next month. Adverse conditions will necessitate shorter casts. For the next month I will largely have to content myself with knowing that for the most part I will find myself closer than I can get.
Jim writes Mr. P’.s Blog. Check out his YouTube videos where you can find the three part series Lessons From the Carp Lodge, along with Detecting the Take, and The Best Thing About Fly Fishing for Carp.
Tactics âœŞ CARPPRO $ 2013
The California Gold Rush Prostaffers and ACS TopRods Miguel Ruiz and Mario Damian put you on the pay streak!
With some of my captures recently, there always comes the ultimate question from fellow anglers, "what did you use to catch your fish?" I usually cant answer that question right off the top of my head, not because I don't want to give away my "secret bait" away but because I
before my session. When I walk the lake I take my marker rod, a notepad and take notes. Yes, I know this seems kinda weird to some of you but this is what I call doing my "homework." I write down landmarks and certain depths that I like and think might hold fish. Like I
PURE gold, MArio with A Cali 40 plus believe it’s more than what’s on my hook bait that helped me catch. There are some tactics that I use that have helped me get on fish. Some may or may not agree with my style but this is what works for me. Like any avid carper, we all want to get to the swim and right away start hauling but it isn't that easy. Don't get me wrong there are those days that we happen to get lucky and set up on a perfect swim or, even better, a pre-baited swim. But how often does that happen? With that said, the first thing I do before game day is try to learn my swim. I usually scout the lake in search of "fishy" areas by walking the lake several days before or even weeks
mentioned before, I usually target areas that look fishy but I always mark “dead” areas too and try to figure out where the fish might be feeding and hanging out. An obvious key that I am sure we all do is look for is surfacing fish. I mark those areas down because they can be possible swim selections if I don’t find a swim I like, or run out of time. Each angler has certain depths and structure they like to fish. Personally I like to fish around 12-18 feet of water. I like this depth because its not too shallow nor to deep so I can get the best of both worlds. I can be close to the swallow where the pre spawn may be occurring but I’m also closer to the deep water where the winter
Tactics âœŞ CARPPRO $ 2013
fatties might be hanging out. I know that doing your homework can take time but, if you want to be on point and get results, doing your homework is a must in my book. I
Now comes what I call the hard labor of fishing, pre-baiting. As most of you know, pre-baiting can get tricky in California because it is not allowed... which is why I only do
always do my homework and I believe its a big key in getting good results.
it wheres itâ€™s permitted :) So those of you in California, pre-bait at your own risk. With that said, once I have my selected swim I usually like to "prep it" 2-3 days prior. I
know most of us donâ€™t have the time to get out to the swim 2-3 days in a row, but once again this is a must in my books so I make it a habit to pre-bait before every session. Before I continue I must
noticed most California anglers usually bait with bird seed or field corn. I personally don't use much field corn but I do use bird seed, oats and a lot of hemp seed. (Hemp seed can get pricey, but the
say this, those who choose to prebait, please ensure you take the time to soak and properly cook your bait as we donâ€™t want to ruin our waters or fish. Okay with that said, what do I use to pre bait? I've
results are amazing and it also makes your house smell good when cooking!) Â I usually start off by baiting a wide area of my chosen swim. I do this
Tactics ✪ CARPPRO $ 2013
for many reasons, one being if the fish are not in the area I cover a lot of water and get bait in a wide area to hopefully attract curious fish into my swim. Also, if the fish are already within the vicinity of my
visualize the swim and pin down where I want to be fishing when I start my session. Day two's pre-bait is about 1/4 lighter than on day one., I also bait a tighter area because I want to have a better idea of where the fish might be feeding on game day. Day three is just a "topper" day. I bait very very
Accurate baiting and perfect presentation only count if it’s in the right place! swim, by covering a big area it keeps them searching and on the hunt, looking for my bait. When I get there on day two I usually sit back for a bit and watch for any sign of life and activity. I try to
light, just enough to keep them there over night and hopefully ready for me in the morning. How much you bait is up to you, bait what you think is enough, but know that the carp isn't the only fish out there feeding on your bait.
Gameday! Now that you have prepped your swim it’s time to see some results. We now return to the question that started all this: "what hook bait did you use to catch your fish?" Sorry to tell you guys but I don't have a secret bait and there isn't one single hookbait that always works for me. We all have our “go-to” baits and If you’re fishing a new venue I recommend using that until you build confidence
on that venue and your swim. My go-to bait is an 8mm pop-up or half of a 10 or 14mm pop-up along with a grain of fruit-flavored maize. I like using a small pop-up to help keep my baits buoyant but still keep my hook on the bottom. I might also fish a boilie if I pre-baited that area with them or if I have the fish used to them already. (I started rolling my own boilies which resulted in my 40-lber back in January of this
Tactics ✪ CARPPRO $ 2013
Catching nuggets like this 42 from Miguel takes dedication and planning
year so if you plan on using boilies, pre-bait with them.) Whether fishing a big bait or a small one, make sure its equipped with the proper hook. You don't want a hook too small nor too big and always make sure to use a sharp hook. Don’t get lazy and keep using a dull hook! Groundbait, method mix its all the same to me. Along with most of us in Cali, I fish an oat-based groundbait/method mix year round. I add some of my pre-bait mix into my ground bait, it only makes sense. I also like to match up the flavor of my hook bait and add the same flavoring to my ground bait. Now that I have crossed my T's and dotted my I's, it’s time to fish. All I can do now is hope they like my offerings and hope that the hard
work pays off, so I pack my method ball and cast it to my prepped swim. What more can I say that you guys probably already know? These are steps that I take when chasing California monsters and I hope that it is helpful and influences others to get on the bank and create their own guidelines to chasing monster carp. As you guys know, there will be times when you go out, do your homework, bait you swim and do everything by the books and still meet with negative results. This doesn't mean you did something wrong; this just means you need to get out and do it again. Remember the adage: It’s called "fishing" and not "catching."
Tactics ✽ CARPPRO ☯ 2013
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Tactics ✽ CARPPRO ☯ 2013
I fish the L.A. River a lot, partly because it’s near my home but also because there’s a solid population of fish and constantly changing conditions. I like the challenge that fishing to such a heavily pressured group of fish provides even if the average size is somewhat small. The river is a flood control channel and also where reclaimed water makes its way to the sea. This means that even on a nice sunny day an upstream storm or scheduled release can create muddy water conditions. If you add the smog and the “June gloom” into
the mix it can make the fishing difficult to say the least. Chasing carp with a fly rod is tough enough when you can see what you’re getting into. There are times though, that you get to the river and turbid water or lack of light makes being able to spot fish next to impossible. Since fly fishing requires an unscented lure, many people just turn around and head back home or end up walking aimlessly along the banks in the hope of finding a surface feeder. Just because the water is dirty or the clouds are creating severe glare
Tactics ✽ CARPPRO ☯ 2013
on the water doesn’t mean you have to quit. It does mean that you might need to step outside your comfort zone or do a little out of the box thinking if you want to but a bend in the rod. A couple of the things that most people notice right away when they look at my carping gear is that I carry indicators and an awful lot of unweighted or very lightly weighted flies. For a lot of people the prevailing thought is that you must see the fish and get the fly down to it immediately in order to be successful. I’ve learned that when the water is dirty or the fish are difficult to see there are other tactics that work better. Regardless of the whether it’s cloud cover or turbid water I set up my rig the same. Typically in the L.A. River I’ll begin with an unweighted Glo-bug under an indicator. I make my color selection based upon the clarity of the water, with muddy water calling for something in the chartreuse or yellow range and clearer water calling for either white or orange depending on the mood of the fish. If the water is clear but the cloud cover makes sight fishing too tough and I know that there is a specific type of bait the fish have been keying on such as damselflies or crayfish, I’ll start with that. When setting the distance between my fly and the indicator, I place my indicator roughly one and a half times the depth of the water I’m going to fish. I like to use small hard foam indicators like the ones from Fish Pimp because
Tactics ✽ CARPPRO ☯ 2013
they’re extremely sensitive and will dunk or twitch if a fish even breathes too hard on the fly. Once I have my rig set it’s just a matter of setting up a drift into where I believe the fish are waiting. Just like in nymphing for trout, foam lines and current seams are always good places to start. Bear in mind that carp have no interest in fighting a heavy current but they do like the idea of their food being brought to them on a conveyor belt. If I can see the fish it’s easy to gauge my sink rate and determine the appropriate distance to lead the fish. Since I can’t see the fish I want to cover as much water as possible in the hopes that a fish and my fly meet. With a weighted fly the chances of it becoming wedged in the rocky river bottom are much higher than with the unweighted fly that
tends to roll and bounce across the rocks in a much more natural manner. It’s important to remember that when you’re fishing with an indicator that your cast can place the fly and the indicator in two separate currents. This can cause the fly to either not sink because it’s being drug along by the float or for the fly to actually lead the indicator downstream. It’s absolutely vital that you ensure that the fly is directly below or just slightly behind the indicator in order to detect a strike. Few carp will eat a fly that’s being drug along just below the surface and even fewer will hang on to one long enough for the indicator to pass
over them and allow you to see that there’s a fish on the fly! This means that you must use proper mending to allow the fly to sink to the level at which the fish are eating. The most effective mends are the ones that allow you to maintain a somewhat direct line between the rod tip and the indicator. Often I see mends that are either too large, which pulls the fly completely out of the feeding lane or mends that don’t actually make any difference in the way that the fly drifts. The ideal mend allows you to extend the drift and keep your fly in the strike zone as long as possible. The strike, when it comes can be subtle enough to put any trout
Tactics ✽ CARPPRO ☯ 2013
to shame. Often the strike is just a twitch of the indicator or a slight bob as the carp sucks the fly in. You must be quick enough to detect that and set the hook before the fish is able to expel the fly. Usually, a simple lift of the rod is sufficient to drive the hook home and send the carp on its mad dash for freedom. Sometimes however what you thought was a strike turns out to be a rock or a bit of vegetation. Hook sets are free, so take the chance on anything that looks different. There have been many times that Iâ€™ve failed to set the hook only to realize too late that Iâ€™d missed my shot at a fish. The next time you get to your favorite carping river and see less than ideal conditions I hope you keep these tips in mind. Instead of packing your rod away and heading home, break out the indicators and unweighted flies and learn the river all over again. You might just be surprised at how well you do.
Tactics âœ˝ CARPPRO â˜Ż 2013
Jeff Patterson of Abel Reels
David guides on the LA river and his carp trips which he runs out of the Fishermens Spot in Van Nuys are hugely popular. On this particular gloomy morning we were joined by Jeff Patterson, sales and marketing manager at Abel Reels, who had a blast chasing down his first sewer trout!! I think that smile says it all and Jeff will be at the Carp Throwdown in San Diego come June. Another convert!
Mood ✑ CARPPRO
Returning to the Cannon River ⦾ My shadow ticks and slides toward the river And here is what it tells me: Things have changed There is a wide-brimmed leather hat A sheepskin coat with tanned hide exterior I can see gray hair in the shadow And the slight favoring of the right leg Describes the aging joints and tendons A son of the river has returned But he is older now My home-river has changed too Man’s constraint has been adjusted The flow is different Such that the plunge pool is less dramatic The seam at river-right no longer nymphable We stood on that ledge one May afternoon And caught around a dozen species of fish In the sunlight and clamor of falling water A day for the ages we thought It’s lived up to that billing At the observation deck I look down on The precise position – same slab rock even Where I stood firm in pushing spring flow And hunted the buffalo fish Natives with black moon eyes That day the end section of my eight-weight Shattered under cement-heavy resistance The fish came to hand in an amphitheater
And I ran home to get another rod That drive may have seeped away some Out through the boot soles The youthful drive, the relentless pursuit As inner workings cloud and get heavier An important evolution inches forward Derivative of what I’ve seen, what I’ve done Thus the gradual ascent from quantity starts Toward important angles, important company And deepening love And so when I see the gray shapes in the slackwater My heart still jumps and I mutter involuntarily But today I don’t rush down to meet them In the place of exuberance is an explicit sentiment: The fish are there, in the river The carp, who I figure are my brothers Are there, touching in the Cannon River I’ll hold some of them later on, but for now I limp over toward the coffee house Waiting at a crosswalk, warming my hands I find at the bottom of the left coat pocket Two beaten carp flies in olive and rust They are buried to the bend in the pocket’s lining I examine them and see that they won’t come free The points are hidden, tight and barbed Maybe there forever I admire the quality and durability of the flies And then push the lining back into the pocket Tucking everything away in safety and warmth Before crossing Division Street
Mood ✑ CARPPRO
Justin Watkins ⦾ Born and raised in Minnesota, I now call Rochester Minnesota my home. Rochester is within driving distance of very good trout and warmwater fishing, but my preferred fish is the carp, which I’ve been targeting with a flyrod for over a decade now.
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Mood ✑ CARPPRO
Kloopers ⦾ In the river’s murmuring assembly hall Old Man Cottonwood thumps his desk Calling for quiet and all eyes to front Carp arrange in formation, facing upriver They tilt heads high, looking down their noses As the lecture’s substance comes forth The professor’s voice is a light breeze Dropping points of interest to flow downstream Occasionally punctuated by a gusty shudder Students trace the paths of every word Gesturing politely and taking turns Raising hands at the passing seeds of cotton
Commentary ⚇ CARPPRO ☺ 2013
OBSESSEDinTEXAS with Barry John
Commentary âš‡ CARPPRO â˜ş 2013
Touch down in TEXAS! After endless flights and transfers I couldn't have asked for more, 'Southern Hospitality' at its best that's all I can say! Greeted off the plane by OCD's Amadeo (Jaramillo), we soon had our game heads on and spent days sourcing and prepping the ridiculous amount of bait needed to cover all bases. Then studying maps and photos of Lake Fork looking for anything that could cover various depth options and possibly hold a few fish. The weather had been up and down recently so the fish could be anywhere and at any level in the water! Oh! and it's 27,000 acres! Well at least it wasn't hammering down with freezing rain like back home in the UK! After a quick stop for supplies we pulled in to Fork greeted by a mix of Carpers from all over the States, I'm not sure who could understand who? But lots of plans, laughter and liqueur were shared that night, resulting in a load of new friends and very jaded scouting trip the following morning. Amadeo founds great pleasure by continually tapping my ankle with sticks as he know I wasn't too keen on the
Commentary âš‡ CARPPRO â˜ş 2013
gnarly spiders and snakes roaming the banks! Lists were made until the light fell but as usual with most comps it all comes down to the draw, I did try bribery but to no avail.
The nerve racking draw was made and everyone scattered like rats out of Oak Ridge. Myself and Deo came out about 20th so the panic was setting in! We arrived at what we thought was our swim only to find out
our moonshine madness had obviously caused a slight miscalculation. Time to get the Navionics out and oops! the battery was dead. The wind was blowing straight at us so our hopes were high, little did we know how cold that dang wind would get. Out came the marker rods with Deo fishing at distance and myself in 6,10,14ft of water around some crazy looking snags. Come on fish!
Commentary ⚇ CARPPRO ☺ 2013
After starting slowly with the bait we were hoping to snatch a quick bite before the lakeside bombardment got into its full swing. Straight off the bat I was into a fish! But yes, you guessed right, it was a cat and it had fallen to a huge wasabi pop-up on the chod! The endless spoding, spombing, throwing sticking, pulting, wacker blasting continued for the next 40 hours but the swim was looking dead. The temperature dropped and the winds picked up so out came the Sailor Jerry Rum to warm our cockles! Admitting defeat to the cold, even I closed my bivvy door and put a heater on for a few hours sleep. Waking up to the sound of coyotes is a new experience for me, but at least it wasn't a 350lb wild boar! Luckily I was still in UK timezone, so we took turns to cover the day and night shifts. After trying every color, shape, size, flavor and depth available we could do nothing more as the carp gods just weren't playing ball with us. Amazing, kind hearted people, tasty food, great venue and side-splitting entertainment?!? A trip I will never forget, well I'm physically scarred by the moonshine for life! Thank you to everyone around and involved in Texas 44, you know who you are, and to Deo and the Grapevine crew for working hard to get me a buff! Dave, Tony and Karl you are absolute stars, thanks again CarpPro! Â I miss you Texas!
Commentary ⚇ CARPPRO ☺ 2013
HELIOS2 A review by John “Montana” Bartlett I recently had the opportunity to take out the new Helios 2 by Orvis and put it through its paces on my local carp waters. While getting a shiny new rod in the mail kicks ass, the snarky part of me wants to write a seven word review and be done with it. I am not a scientific angler, just a weekend hack. I can't speak to swing weight with any degree of accuracy, and I didn't mark off distances to test the rod at different line lengths. I did, however, take this rod fishing. I cast to and caught some winter carp on a shallow flat, including one 18 pounder. With that in mind, I can sum up the H2 nicely in 7 words: The best flyrod I have ever cast. Full disclosure here, Orvis sent me this rod for free. I didn't solicit it for a review, nor did they ask me to write one. My guess...Orvis knows they have a winner here and figured I would end up singing the praises of the Helios 2. They were correct. Over the years and miles I have logged on various rivers I have accumulated a lot of gear, in particular fly rods. I’ve been through the various stages of rod addiction: bamboo, two handed, long, short, heavy and light. By some
accounts my rod count is approaching 30 but I refuse to either confirm or deny that number. Eventually, I settled on a couple of very good rods as my go to weapons of choice. My primary carp rod has been a G Loomis Native Run GLX, backed up by a recently purchased Sage One. Those are both fantastic rods in their own rights, so I don't say this lightly...They will gather some dust this season. Why? In a word, accuracy. My type of fishing puts a premium on accuracy, and I am not talking about getting the fly in a general area. Most carp guys talk about the dinner plate; on the Big C we talk about hitting a coffee cup. Our fish just don't move far, so you need to feed them. Having a rod that is not only able but easy to cast at mid ranges with great accuracy is a must. I have to be able to put the fly right were I want it and do so delicately enough to get the fly close to the fish without scaring him. The Helios 2 is exactly that rod. I don't know why, or what Orvis did to make it happen, but that Helios 2 is a laser pointer. You adjust the length of line, point at your target and the fly lands there. Honestly, it was a little freaky.
Review ◉ CARPPRO ? 2013
❝In a word accuracy ❞
Review ◉ CARPPRO ? 2013
So I can say with some certainty that this rod will help you put your fly where it needs to be. In carp fishing, that’s the single most important element. Of course, I could have told you that by casting in my lawn but, being that I explained to my wife that I just had to go fishing to really test
So I have had one day on the carp flats and many afternoons on the lawn with this rod. As a nonprofessional angler, I feel obliged to ignore the buzz words and lay it out there as simply as I can, so here goes. This rod is fun to cast. You can throw a long line--I tried, and it was
this out, I better talk about how it handles a fish. Bear in mind, I was fishing for winter carp, so the fights were a little more sluggish than they will be in the summer and I didn’t deal with any blistering runs. That said the Helios 2 was a joy to play these carp on. It provided plenty of feel to help me anticipate the carp’s moves and counteract them. There was also great backbone to turn a fish when I wanted. That’s not an easy balance to find and I don’t say it lightly. Again, Orvis put together something really special here.
fun, but I rarely fish more than 30-40 feet of fly line. In this respect this rod is a cannon. It’s almost too bad I won’t be using all that available power more often. Better still, you can easily throw short 15 foot casts to the tailers I was spotting through the cloud cover. Most importantly, the Helios 2 is the most accurate rod I have ever cast. I am going to lay the smack down on carp with this rod this spring.
Carping the Column
with Mark Erdosy
Part Two-Variable Fly Design
Tactics ♠ CARPPRO
fishing for carp in deep stillwaters has presented a unique set of challenges for my friends and me over the years. Conventional carp flies and strategies wouldn’t work for us so we had to forge ahead on an entirely different set of ideas. Most of the credit for this innovation has to go to Adam Hope, who has spent more time doing this
variables that achieve different sink rates for carping the water column.
than anyone I know. His original “Damsel” fly was able to crack the proverbial code that afforded us success on our difficult home waters. The Damsel fly featured certain characteristics that could be replicated in other patterns. This breakthrough allowed us to develop a series of interchangeable
the spring fed ponds, the weighted flies sank into muck or were lost in thick weed beds. In the deep canals, we lost sight of the patterns and often snagged the debris on the bottom. When we tried to target mid-column carp, the flies would descend in the water column too quickly for a carp to pick them up as they fell. In addition, these wary
The first characteristic that is an absolute necessity is a lack of weight. When we began targeting carp on spring-fed ponds and deep canals, we quickly realized that traditional weighted flies fished along the bottom would not work. In
carp would often spook during the presentation due to the noise and vibration of a weighted pattern hitting the water. We needed to design new flies that would land softly and sink slowly in order to allow the carp sufficient time to feed upon them. To achieve a weightless effect, we removed or replaced lead dumbbell eyes and bead heads on all of our nymph flies that were used in stillwater applications. For damsels and dragons that have large
pronounced eyes, a key “trigger” in getting a carp’s attention, we had to incorporate alternative and nearly weightless materials. To replicate this, we turned to using mono eyes or craft beads. If the situation called for a deeper presentation, we simply added bead-chain eyes in various sizes or lead wire to the underbodies of our nymphs. By incorporating these three different weight applications, we could fish all three levels of the water column.
In order to effectively achieve the parachute effect, be sure to always use a non-slip mono loop to connect your fly to your fluorocarbon tippet. This will allow your fly to achieve a more realistic action in the water and have the freedom to sink in a natural way.
#2 Nymph patterns aren’t the only flies that will catch fish in the middle of the water column. Egg patterns are also extremely effective at enticing carp that are on the prowl. Glo bugs and sucker spawn imitations are incredibly productive patterns whose sink rate can be easily adjusted. This can be achieved by varying the amount that the fly is saturated by water. I often pinch my fly after casts to get the excess water out of the fly. This allows a softer presentation and a slower sink rate. If I want a faster sink rate, I’ll quickly dunk the fly in the water before casting. If I want it to sink slower, I’ll simply false cast several times. Without having to change flies, egg patterns allow you to fish the entire water column.
Tactics ♠ CARPPRO
>> MONO EYES OR CRAFT BEADS further by tying in thicker rubber legs or by using flattened instead of round diameter legs. Most of my patterns tend to use micro centipede legs and if I want to slow things down, I’ll simply tie in more of them. The second major characteristic is utilizing materials to slow the descent of the fly. The key here is to create a parachute effect and achieve a sink rate that will allow your fly to stay in the strike zone for the longest time. The pattern must sink slowly enough for the carp to be able to track and consume the fly. The best material for the parachute effect is rubber
>> RUBBER LEGS FOR A SLOW DESCENT legs. Tied in as legs or as part of the tail, the rubber creates enough drag to sufficiently slow the descent of the fly. This can be slowed down even
The second way to create a parachute effect is by incorporating hackle feathers of the saddle or schlappen variety. In a free fall scenario, hackle will protrude outwards and increase the amount of drag as the fly sinks. To achieve varying sink rates one can simply increase or decrease the density of the hackle used. Schlappen hackle
is much longer and will cause the fly to sink slower. Hook choice provides a third major characteristic to either add or subtract weight from the fly. Obviously, larger hooks with thicker diameters will cause patterns to sink much more quickly in the water column while smaller and thinly wired hooks will do the opposite. In addition to simply adding weight, thicker hooks like the Gamakatsu SL45 (stout and strong enough to hold monster fish) can be used to provide balance to fly patterns and allow bulkier patterns like Dragon nymphs to sink more efficiently. Thinner hooks like the Partridge’s CZ Czech Nymph Hook are ultra lightweight and are used to achieve the opposite effect of the SL45. They will allow already lightweight flies to sink even slower. The downside to a light wire hook is that you run the risk of bending one out on a very large fish. Keep in mind that stillwater carp aren’t able to exert as much force upon a hook as a river fish so you can get away with lighter hooks in ponds and lakes. In addition, river fish seem to be more much more active fighters when compared to stillwater carp. A final characteristic to take into account is the diameter and type of
>> PROTIP A huge variable in fly construction for carp is foam. Most carp fishermen tend to walk past or completely avoid laid up fish because of their complacent inactivity. These fish are often sunning themselves a few inches below the surface of water in pods or around vegetation. During the dog days of summer, this might be the
image courtesy of Adam Hope
only activity a carp fisherman will see. In order to target these fish, we began implementing foam into our nymph patterns (most often on the thorax and head). With the added foam, our flies would either stick into the surface film like an emerging insect or hover a few inches below the surface at the carp’s level. The foam allowed the flies to land much like a dry fly. This opened the door to these wary, laid-up fish and it wasn’t long before we experienced some great summertime action.
Tactics ♠ CARPPRO
leader or tippet used. Long leaders are a must when fly-fishing for carp in still water and fluorocarbon and/ or nylon leaders can be employed depending on the situation. In really deep water, it pays to have a
which will come in handy when faced with the many snags common in ponds and lakes. I prefer not to use a fluorocarbon leader in shallow water conditions
image courtesy of Adam Hope
fluorocarbon leader because of its higher sink rate. Furthermore, fluorocarbon’s refractive index is much closer to that of water, making it nearly invisible when submerged. Another benefit is its increased abrasion resistance,
because of its sink rate, which might cause the leader to sink into debris and hinder the hook set. Here I usually employ a nylon leader that is greased to float. For tippet, I use an extended amount of fluorocarbon.
image courtesy of Adam Hope
Tactics â™ CARPPRO
In all cases, I prefer fluorocarbon tippet from 2x-5x depending on the situation, water clarity, and size of the quarry. The diameter of the tippet will also influence the sink rate of your fly. A 2x piece of tippet will sink slower than a 5x piece because of its larger diameter and, thus, larger surface area. This creates drag, and slows the descent of your fly. Increasing or decreasing the size of your tippet is the final variable in your setup to adjust your presentation to midcolumn carp. Casting and presenting flies to carp in the middle of the water column is an unconventional technique. Not all carp need to be mudding or on the bottom to be caught. Playing with these variables will open up more water for you to target. Filling your fly boxes with a variety of patterns that incorporate different weights, materials, and hook sizes will allow you to effectively target fish throughout the entire water column. Â With the right presentation and technique you will be able to start catching more carp in a variety of different ways.
>> PROTIP The chosen materials and the amount of the material used will also have an impact on the sink rate of your fly. Certain materials simply hold more water once saturated compared to others. Strategies I
employ include varying the amount or type of dubbing used on a pattern. On damsels, I tend to use a large amount of dubbing that is packed tightly together to add bulk. Once saturated, this will increase the sinking rate of your pattern. Another option is substituting striped rabbit fur instead of using marabou or striped hackle for tails and legs. Rabbit holds more water than the aforementioned hackle, and also produces an excellent action in the water.
Cash in the Corners
Tactics $ CARPPRO ♣ 2013
Paylake Tactics with Big Chris Carden So you want to fish corners? Better have the patience of Job, my friends! I don’t and never will claim to be an expert, but past experience, plenty of observation, and a lot of trial and error have taught me that if you have the right approach, and give it enough time, corners can pay off big. Most paylakes are laid out the same, with a rope down the middle and equal sections divided across the lake like a bowling alley divided off into lanes. Usually this means that the only direction you can fish is straight ahead. But not all lakes are regular shapes that can easily be divided. These are my favorite lakes, the ones that are different shapes, because you can vary your tactics and be doing things the guy next to you can’t. You can fish the corners. If at all possible I like to be somewhere I can throw in a corner, or angle one rod up or down the bank close to the edge, or “margins” as our Euro-brothers say. I have caught probably 75-percent of all my big paylake fish this way. As a matter of fact, my paylake PB of 31.7 was caught only 12 or 15 feet from the bank, just out from a bush overhanging the lake. (Now it is a tree, but in 1988 it was a bush!) I have found that sometimes you must let the rod soak for sometimes 2-3 hours because, as we know, the biggies are a lot more cautious. I think that the margin rods work well because these fish are so accustomed to seeing lines straight out from the bank to the rope, 24/7, 365, that throwing at an angle is something just that bit different. They don’t see it a lot of the time so it’s just different enough to trip them up.
Tactics $ CARPPRO ♣ 2013 When fishing corners. or pegs where I can fish just along the bank, I prefer a slow or very soft non-breaking bait. I call it “suck bait” because it gives the fish something to actually “mouth” instead of just sucking and blowing a loose pile of scattered packbait particles about. My favorite baits for this type of fishing are millet and grits. (I think the millet mimics eggs that are dropped at spawning time.) For a
if I’m fishing on spots or rodeo of side pots, be it an 8 hour or 12 hour tourney, you will probably see me with at least one rod pitched only a few feet off the bank. Another thing that I look for along the bank and in the corners is runoff. If it is raining, or there’s been a recent downpour, look for a spot where runoff water is draining into the lake; a
for a suck bait I like to use Grits or Millet suck bait I like to use grits. As far as pickups for this kind of fishing, I use a plastic bead or piece of high density foam on the hook--the foam is the same stuff people use to critically balance hollowed out boilies. Bream will often knock a puff off a hook if it’s been in the water a while, so this rig gives me confidence that there will be a pickup in the hook when the carp come along. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying big fish can’t be caught on the rope; they can. And plenty are. In fact, if I’m fishing on half hours or hours then you will probably find me in the middle of the pond throwing to the rope. But
lot of times this will bring fish in close to feed off the stuff washed into the lake, i.e. insects, etc. Pitch a bait into where the water is colored up from the runoff and set your clickers! With the right tactics and baits you can turn these corners into cash. Next time I will give some recipes for this type of fishing. Until then, good luck and tight lines to all!
CarpReport Event Calendar 2013 May 11 Lawson’s May 18 Carp Caraway May 25 Hud’s June 1 Midway 1 June 8 CJ’s June 15 Foster’s June 22 Lake Charles June 29 Creekside July 13 Carp Country July 20 Mike & D’s July 27 D & R August 10 Taylor’s August 17 Laurel & Hardy September 7 FINALE - Laurel & Hardy www.carpreport.com
Commentary ❉ CARPPRO ☆ 2013
Conway Bowman talks to CarpPro Highlights from the Conway Bowman Podcast...
the future of carp fishing. Here are some of the highlights. Be sure to listen to the latest podcast for the entire interview at www.carppro.net.
Conway Bowman is a worldrenowned flyfisherman and unabashed carp lover. The host of Flyfishing the World and host and founder of the Carp Throwdown (Lake Henshaw, California, Saturday June 8), Conway recently sat down with Dan Frasier, CarpPro’s Fly editor and host of the FlyCast podcast series, to discuss the rise of flyfishing for carp, the Carp Throwdown flyfishing tournament, boats, and
On saltwater fishing and the carp crossover... Dan: I think you are right, you can hone your skills for saltwater, but I’ve fished salt quite a few times and I have actually found that, I think the saltwater fishing is easier than the carp fishing a lot of times. At least the fish’s takes are more
active and the flies are bigger and that kind of stuff. So there’s really an interesting crossover. There’s a lot of give and take from all of those. Conway: Yeah, absolutely. I think the carp is as difficult to catch as a Permit. Really. The thing with a carp is you are going to get a lot more shots. If the carp were in the saltwater on the flats and had the numbers of Permit they would be
On why we fly fish for carp... Dan: When else are you going to get a shot at a 30-pound freshwater fish? I mean it’s just not gonna happen unless you’re fishing for carp or buffalo or maybe a catfish but even that is pretty limited. Conway: Yeah I mean you are
“I mean, the flyfisherman is the perfect match, a perfect partner for the carp because flyfisherman are looked at as weirdos a lot of times anyways. Why not take it all the way and go for carp?” - Conway Bowman almost impossible to catch. So, as I said earlier, they hone your skills to be a very good sight-fisherman and also a really great caster because you have to be tremendously accurate when casting to carp, whether you’re catching them on the surface or catching them tailing. You know, they are just a great match for the fly rod.
totally right. The carp presents an opportunity like no other freshwater fish really, other than the gar maybe, but yeah… they’re big, they eat the fly, they act very similar to a redfish or a bonefish. And, the flyfisherman is going to hone their skills for saltwater while fishing for carp. The opportunities are everywhere, you know, carp are every place. It’s a great species to target on the fly. The other thing is, flyfishermen are
Commentary ❉ CARPPRO ☆ 2013
always looked upon as kind of strange anyway so the carp is the perfect fish to target because most of the fishing community looks at carp as kind of a trash fish or kind of a strange species that nobody wants to deal with, so why not? I mean, the flyfisherman is the perfect match, a perfect partner for the carp because flyfisherman are looked at as weirdos a lot of times anyways. Why not take it all the way and go for carp?
perfect venue here in San Diego at a lake called Lake Henshaw and it just came together so smoothly I couldn’t believe it. I’ve run tournaments here in San Diego fishing for bass, fishing for Mako sharks, and it was always a huge
On the Carp Throwdown... Dan: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. Alright, let me ask you a couple of questions about Carp Throwdown. So first of all, how long have you guys been doing Throwdown? Conway: This is our second year. So a buddy of mine, Al Q and I basically came up with the concept, “Hey, let’s have a sight casting carp tournament only.” We have the
pain in the butt to get together. You know, getting people interested was difficult. The Carp Throwdown came together so easily. People were into it, people were stoked and it was just really a great time. The other thing is the Carp Throwdown, as with carp flyfishing, there aren’t really any rules. It’s a blank canvas. You don’t have a guy coming in who’s the “carp expert” who is going to tell you how to do it
and all this shit. We are all just out there doing it, having fun and with no expectation other than just
We’re just out there having a great time catching carp.
Conway talking to an attentive audience at the Fishermens Spot in Los Angeles having fun. So that was the premise of the Carp Throwdown and the first year was great. I think we had 40 anglers. This year I think we’ve already hit that number in terms of entrants and I think it’s going to be even more fun this year. We’re going to have a band, we’re going to have a barbecue. I think it’s going to be really cool and it’s fun. We’re not out there preaching to the choir.
On tackling the Lake Henshaw carp... Dan: On Henshaw, how do they catch ‘em. Are you guys fishing flats? I’ve heard they use dry flies on Lake Henshaw. Conway: Basically the rundown on Henshaw is, you have two ways to target the carp there.
Commentary ❉ CARPPRO ☆ 2013
First, and foremost: dry flies… surface feeding carp. During the tournament there is a big hopper hatch. You’ll see yellow hoppers coming off. The carp go crazy for them. It’s like they are on crack cocaine when those things are on the surface. You can go out there with big hopper patterns and target carp. You can make a haymaker cast, be 10 feet off the mark, and a carp will come over once that fly hits the water and pick that fly up. It’s insane to watch. And the other thing you can do is target the tailing fish. There are a lot of tailing fish eating crawdads on the south end of the lake. So there are two different ways you can fish ‘em. Both are very effective and both are really exciting. Whatever you want to do as long as you catch ‘em on the fly. It’s great.
On the rise of flyfishing for carp... Dan: That’s great. You guys have apparently seen the explosion in interest that we keep hearing about. Throwdown is seeing that growth in interest too, isn’t it? Conway: Absolutely, some of the guys that showed up at the tournament last year, I’m like, “My
god, I thought you were a steelhead fishermen.” You know these guys you see in the flyfishing circles. All of a sudden they are like, “No, this is the coolest thing going.” We are seeing carp touch every level of flyfishing. Whether you’re the hot stuff Permit fisherman or the guy that goes to the Eastern Sierras and catches brook trout. It’s basically touching all areas of flyfishing and its great. We’re lovin’ it. There are no rules, you know, like I said. You don’t have some guy pontificating on the virtues of carp fishing because there are no rules. It’s pretty cool.
On the future of flyfishing for carp... Dan: So do you see… that it’s people from all parts of the sport? Is that a trend that we will continue to see? That it is something for everybody or is it going to be that there are carp fisherman like there are trout fisherman and that’s sort of what they do? Conway: I think the carp is definitely conducive to having… [those anglers that] that’s all those guys do. They will seek those fish out in all sorts of venues around the nation. You know, for me, honestly,
all I want to fish for now in freshwater are carp. Really. There are so many places to do it and try to figure out. I think that’s the appeal to it. So I really think you’re going to have a contingent of carp flyfishermen only; that that is all they will do. They will seek out bigger fish and more complicated
carp fishing in the United States is yet. Conway: Yeah, you know we don’t. I was talking to some guys about, I think it’s Lake Fork in Texas. They showed me pictures of big white sand flats, with very clear water with 40 to 60 pound buffalo tailing and eating whatever, crawdads,
waters where these fish live. You know, that kind of stuff. You’ll also have the stillwater carp fisherman and the river carp fisherman. I mean, you’ll have all these different guys targeting these fish in different, I guess, sects. And it’ll definitely happen. I mean you will definitely see that.
whatever. So there is a whole different thing we haven’t even looked at. The guys are saying that the only way to really get in there is with a flats boat because the bass boats can’t really get in there.
On where the best carp fishing in America might be...
Dan: Yeah, that’s exactly right. We actually had a big bait tournament on Lake Fork just a few months ago and you’re right. You’ve described it perfectly. Those guys will catch 60-70 pound buffalo; which is kind of the North American native equivalent of a carp and they will catch them on bait. The only thing keeping the fly guys out is people
Dan: I think we have so many places that are yet undiscovered… so we may not know where the best
On Lake Fork...
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need to start investing in boats, or canoes or something. Conway: They are there and these guys are telling me they’re are all
over the place and they are ready. Ready to be targeted on the fly but you have to have the right boat. Flats boats are great because you can get up high and you can look down. Since you are sight casting you really need those extra set of eyes to figure out where the fish is. The possibilities are endless. Endless, endless, endless. Not only for the flyfishing market, but even the boating market. I really predict that in 5 to 10 years you’re going to see flats boats all over the nation in the middle of the United States, targeting carp.
CarpPro would like thank Conway Bowman for taking the time to talk with us about his passion for
flyfishing for carp. You can click the links to check out Conway and some surface feeding carp action, via YouTube, and to watch a snippet of his Flyfishing the World episode for carp on Beaver Island. More information on how to register for Carp Throwdown (or if you just want to go join the party) is available at www.carpthrowdown.com, or see the link at the www.CarpPro.net.
Hear the full interview right here.......
The Carp Doldrums Zach Jansen & Ben Muraski
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here are spots in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans where the prevailing winds are calm. Nothing happens. Nothing. Sailors long ago named these spots the doldrums. For carp fishermen, the doldrums aren't a place, they are a time. That window when spring isn't quite here yet, but winter can be felt fading. There have been long months of waiting patiently for the carp to return to the shallow water and resume their feeding and now we can feel it approaching. It isn't here yet, but it's tantalizingly close. The carp doldrums.
sun and warmer weather replaces the overcast winter days, the flats, untouched by an angler for 3 long months, begin to fill with the hazy mud clouds and teasing orange tails that have filled our minds during the long weeks stuck inside. The water begins to warm, increasing the carp’s metabolisms and waking them from their phlegmatic state induced by the cold of winter. The fish begin to become more aggressive and willing to eat a fly as the daylight hours lengthen and our approach to fishing drastically changes.
It's this time of year that we begin our incessant daydreaming about carp. We start picturing their haunts filled with large shadows or flashy tails. And we start preparing; dusting off rods and reels, replacing finesse flies with the larger, bulkier “meat” patterns of spring and early summer, in anticipation of the transition from dull winter fishing to the frenzy of the impending spawn, and on to the the carp filled months that we await with anticipation.
This shift from the slothful, selective habits of wintertime carp to the more aggressive, opportunistic carp of spring requires some major changes in gear and fishing tactics, and makes for a welcome change of pace.
In our waters this transition period begins in mid-March, when the carp start to move up onto the clay and mud flats we have been dreaming of for an entire season. As higher
As the water temperature rises, the lethargy brought on by icy winter waters begins to lift, and the fish begin to awaken and move into the shallows to feed. As the temperature rises, so do the carp’s metabolisms, causing their appetite to increase, and making them much more apt to be fooled by a flyangler’s artificial creation. The change from the smaller, more
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subtle flies of winter to the meatier, more visually obtrusive flies of spring is one the most appealing changes of this transition for us.
during the year with carp that will actively chase down large, meaty patterns on the strip, sometimes traveling upwards of 15 feet to inhale a fly. During this time, we
When water temperature approaches the lower end of 50 degrees, carp begin their pre-spawn feeding, causing already aggressive behavior to further intensify. This 2-3 week bracket brings some of the most incredible fishing we see
eagerly tap into our smallmouth boxes to retrieve the big guns. The 3 inch rabbit strip leech known as Ben’s Bottom Creeper produced the best for us in targeting these overly aggressive fish. In this 3 week period, our average day produces
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up to 15 fish, as compared to one or two during the rest of the year Then, just as fast as this aggressive behavior came about, its gone, leaving fish just as they were before this temporary haze of magic. After the spawn comes and goes, our game changes yet again. Fly boxes are once more reorganized,
replacing the larger streamer patterns with our general size 6 and 8 dragonfly nymphs, soft hackles, and more realistic mid-column mayfly imitations. We bring out our lighter 5 weight rods and 3 and 4x tippet as our shots at fish consist more of cruising groups of imbecilic fish than the picky tailers we know and love. This change in behavior comes as more of a curse than a blessing. Though we welcome a significant spike in the amount of fish landed, casting to cruisers often leaves us dreaming of the flashing orange tails, precise casts, and skinny water that keeps us coming back for more.
The cycle is not broken until colder weather comes around yet again, leaving us trapped indoors to ponder the events from the previous season, reminiscing on the antics we shared, fish we caught, and people we met. Much of this time is passed with us sitting in this very spot. A vise clamped to each end of the desk, tying abominable flies, poking fun at each other, and discussing the adventures to come in the few free years we have left before the ways of the world tie us down.
nyone who has fly-fished for carp imagines making delicate presentations in gin clear, skinny water situations to a mudding or tailing fish. This resulting connection between angler, fly and fish comes to an exciting crescendo with either a visible eat or a flat out rejection of your offering. Crescendo's are the result of an orchestrated build-up. Getting to the point of being able to make this cast while sight fishing requires the same buildup and planning. For beginners it takes a little more practice and some strategy to reach these fly fishing highs. After more than ten years of guiding for the "carolina bonefish" I have indeed learned one thing is true: Those classic Holy Grail shots do not come easy for any gamefish. Possessing excellent senses, intelligence and attitude, carp are no exception. So much so that when I first get clients on the boat I find it necessary to review a few stealth tips. I have even gone so far to demonstrate intentionally spooking a few small carp with a bow stomp or clippers dropped on the hull. Pretty dramatic effect to say the least but fishing is usually better from that point on.
First, all the usual points, tips and gear apply regarding a sight fishing trip and to be able to see fish effectively. Wide brim hats and polarized glasses to reduce glare are the most important items to bring. Spend every penny you can on good glasses. New technology with lenses and colors has really improved and you will be surprised by what you are not seeing with box-store shades. A good listen on the way to your favorite fishing spot regarding glasses was a recent podcast on the Itinerant Angler with the guys from Costa. Even with the best of glasses it does take a little time to see fish. I often have newbie’s say “I got him” only to cast to a log opposite of a fish’s actual location. Many times this can be the limiting factor early on when one is starting out. You cannot cast to what you cannot see. Try to look for movement, flashes, and shadows at first. Then start picking out a specific part of the fish. Those wonderfully colored orange lips and fins stand out nicely. Looking for the entire fish can be distorting and difficult. It takes a little practice to become a good at sight fishing. If you have ever been out with a Bahamian guide for bonefish you understand my point.
Commentary ☯ CARPPRO ✤ 2013
Training Yourself for the Holy Grail Capt Paul Rose
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Now that you have your shades on and eyes trained, you still need to get close enough to be able to spot a carp on the flats. The approach you take is going to be a big part of your successes and failures. Your approach may be fishing from a boat or by wading. Regardless, one thing to keep in mind is that carp can be patterned. Find them in one spot today they will be there the
The majority of new carp anglers spook more fish than they cast to. Do not become frustrated but learn from the mistakes. Take notes and learn what spooked the fish. Realize you are spooking fish. Was it noise, sloppy wading, getting to close, accidental pressure wakes, or maybe your poling? Carp can feed all day in the wake of a Jet Ski or water skiers because they
Wading anglers can wear camo, stay low, and walk softly.... next day as well. For example one of my favorite lakes has a long rocky point that holds feeding fish every trip. I just need to make the right approach on any given day by keeping the sun, wind, caster, current and boat position in mind. By putting as many factors to my advantage, I can get the perfect shot more often than not. The setup can be controlled to a certain degree.
understand their environment. But take your skiff and scrape the bottom one time and it is game over. Anything unnatural to them will quickly be recognized as danger. Understand the phrase that they can and do “feel you.” Wading anglers can wear camouflage, stay low, and walk softly, preferably staying out of the water if possible. Use bank structure to disguise your profile
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and avoid casting shadows on the fish. Anything from above is a threat to shallow feeding carp. The fly line waving in the air 10 times is a great osprey imitation. Most of my success while wading has been finding an area carp frequent and simply just waiting for them to come to me. I equate it to being in a deer stand. One caveat is once you spook an area you will need to move to a new stand. Hopefully the form of the spook will be a large carp tearing across a flat with your fly in its mouth scattering all of his buddies. Boat anglers in a skiff usually come as a team. The added height and mobility are certainly superior to wading. But stealth is even more important. Lefty once told me a flats boat is nothing more than a "big drum." The quote refers to sound waves’ ability to be magnified and transmitted so much easier in water. I often teach anglers new to saltwater fishing by recommending a carp trip first. My first clients were a group of guys heading to the Caribbean for bonefish. I was able to teach communication from the poling platform regarding spotting fish, judging distance, flats casting techniques, and the overall language one would experience. All
the skills taught need to be done quietly and without rocking the boat. Interestingly, I still fish with these guys today prior to their annual trip. Carp fishing is an excellent teaching tool for transitioning from fresh to salt because you can get thirty quality shots in a day and learn all the skills you need. As you get more time on the water you will find yourself getting more quality shots. You certainly do not want to blow it at crunch time. The first cast counts. Really counts! Too much false casting or body movement and poor deliveries will put a carp on alert. He may not bolt but he probably won't eat either. You can learn to read his body language whether happy or not. Happy fish eat! Carp fishing is not the easiest fish you will catch on a fly. It is not a numbers game most days either. But the rewards are high. Completing the stalk, making the cast and watching the eat is addicting as hell. Follow a few rules, stay patient, be vigilant and you will find carp on the fly is as good as any trip you will take this year. www.carolinabonefishing.com
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Commentary ⦿ CARPPRO ✪ 2013
Tony Cartlidge takes time with Texas Parks & Wildlife as they survey, and talks carp and buffalo with this forward thinking group It’s ten past eight Tuesday morning and I’m stuck in traffic on MoPac. I’ve been on the road for almost an hour and I’m less than 5 miles from home. I’m worried I’ll miss the boat so I text Mukhtar to let him know I’m running late. In this instance, the boat is the survey boat being manned by Mukhtar Farooqi, Texas Parks and Wildlife Assistant District Supervisor (TPWD) and Greg Cummings, TPWD Senior Technician. I have been invited to witness a series of surveys on lakes Travis, Walter E. Long, and Austin. Walter E. Long (aka Decker Lake) and Lake Austin are renowned for some very large smallmouth buffalo and a good head of decent sized carp, so I’m
particularly interested to see the quality of fish the surveys turn up. After crawling for another few miles, I get past the scene of the minor accident that has traffic snarled, and drivers snarling, and I put my foot down to get to Pace Bend Park on Lake Travis. Arriving at the gas station on the corner of Pace Bend Park Road, I see Mukhtar and Greg fueling up the boat, a Blue Wave that, I’m thinking, looks worryingly small for three of us and 15 sample cans. I first contacted Mukhtar when I moved to Texas about 5 years ago. He’s been known for some years as the go-to “carp guy” at TPWD and has helped promote the sport of carp fishing in Texas, writing
promotional pamphlets for TPWD and newspaper articles promoting the work of TPWD and the sport of carp fishing. The last time we met was in March; Mukhtar was driving across the 515 bridge over Lake Fork, just as the CarpPro team was
before. TPWD is concentrating on surveying very specific species.
photographing Josh Snow’s winning buffalo, caught in the final moments of the 44 hour event. He came down to see the fish, re-acquainted himself with Karl Haymer, met David Smith. As we were talking I somehow inveigled myself onto the survey boat.
flathead catfish,” explains Mukhtar.
At Pace Bend Park we’re soon zipping up the lake to collect the first of the nets that were placed the day
“Gill netting surveys are typically used to monitor for striped bass, hybrid striped bass, white bass, channel catfish, blue catfish, and
The monofilament gill nets comprise five 25 by 8 foot panels of 1-, 1.5-, 2-, 2.5-, and 3-inch mesh, with the smallest mesh arranged nearest the shoreline. The resulting 125 foot by 8 foot nets are anchored in place with large weights and suspended from super-buoyant yellow floats. The general consensus from local carp anglers is that Lake Travis has
Commentary ⦿ CARPPRO ✪ 2013
small carp, small buffalo, and lots of catfish. There have been reports of bigger fish but they are few and far between so I’m anxious to see what the first net shows us. Greg slows the boat and we drift toward the first set of floats. Mukhtar is at the bow with a boat hook and snags the net float at the first
Mukhtar disentangle the larger nontarget fish--buffalo, carp and gar-and return them to the lake. They are not a target species for this survey. The buffalo are still lively and no worse for wear after a few hours in the gill nets, although there’s a little bit of fin damage which will heal itself in time. The rest go into the can and the net is
Darin Gossett & Mukhtar Farooqi attempt. The engine idles and Greg joins him with the sample container - a large, green container that looks like a trashcan with a locking lid. They start hauling the net into the sample can but the first few fish in the net are smallmouth buffalo in the mid-twenty to mid-thirty pound range. This is surprising for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they have been caught near the surface yet most anglers consider buffs to be a deeper water species. Secondly, they are very dark. There are black buffalo (Ictiobus niger) in Lake Travis, but these are heavily pigmented smallmouths (Ictiobus bubalus). Although these fish are being taken for sampling, Greg and
given a tag and the number is noted. “In addition to gill nets,” Mukhtar explains, “we use techniques such as electrofishing (for shorelineoriented species like bass and other sunfish), trap nets for crappie, and creel surveys to get angler catch rates, preferences, opinions, and expenditures.” We manage another 6 nets for the morning before I have to leave. Lake Travis turns up nothing larger than mid-thirties, carp or buffalo. Interesting to see but not unexpected. Along the way we get some less than friendly looks from
anglers as we retrieve the nets but, as Mukhtar explains, it’s a necessary part of TPWD’s waterbody management. “In order to manage our fisheries and make fishing better, we need to know the status of the fish populations. We look at catch rates, population size structure, and condition. All collected data is then used to write reports with management recommendations which could include such things as stocking requests, proposals to change harvest regulations, and proposals to improve habitat.” He continues, “Fish length, weight, and age data provides us with the information needed to assess the status of the population. With reference to all the different types of fish population surveys we do, most of the fish are released after taking length and weight measurements. A number of fish of some species are kept for determining age and growth characteristics and the only reliable method involves counting the growth rings on the ear bones (otoliths). A very limited number of fish may be used for educational purposes.” Later in the day, I get a message that may explain why some of the buffalo were caught shallow; the
buffalo are spawning. Mukhtar sends me a picture of a very dark buffalo covered with spawning tubercles. Compared to the sheer tonnage of articles written about carp and carp fishing, almost nothing has been published about the smallmouth buffalo or its habits, so this is a rare look at a pre-spawn buffalo. The following week finds us at Walter E. Long, aka Decker Lake, a favorite haunt of Central Texas buffalo anglers. We’re not the only ones surveying the lake. A team of scientists is sampling larval fishes for the Environmental Protection Agency. The study will establish a baseline in accordance with EPA regulations on intakes for power plant lakes. Today, TPWD technician Darin Gossett is at the helm as we set out across the placid lake. The water reads 16 Celsius, much warmer than the air temperature. As a power plant lake, the water temperatures stay warm, which may explain why Decker produces an inordinate amount of large buffalo. We have been asked by Christopher White, the Curator of Aquariums for Cabela’s in Buda, TX, to provide a couple of small carp and buffalo for their large in-store
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Buffalo ready to spawn aquaria. Christopher arrives with the Cabela’s truck while we’re out collecting nets so we head back in with the smallest buffalo of the day so far, around 25lbs. It’s the smallest buffalo I’ve ever seen from Decker! Christopher has been filling and oxygenating the tanks ready for the
fish. Cabela’s has had carp and buffalo in the Buda store aquarium for a few years. They like to display fish that are native to the region. Mukhtar and Darin head back out for a couple more carp and buffalo while I chat with Christopher. They return with a couple of high-teen carp and two buffalo of around 30lbs. Small fish to the regular
anglers at Decker but they’ll look impressive when, after 6 weeks of quarantine, they’re finally viewed through the thick glass walls of the floor-to-ceiling store aquaria. Mission accomplished, we head back out and finish the final few
nets. Again, the biggest buffalo wriggle free of the nets before we can weigh and release them. The target species for Decker are white bass, hybrid striped bass, and catfish but we also catch many, many spotted and long-nose gar.
Talking of gar, alligator gar are the only rough fish species being researched and monitored by TPWD. This much-maligned creature grows to huge sizes in Texas but they are in danger. They can take 10 years to reach sexual maturity and there’s a real concern
for the welfare of this Texas native. The indigenous smallmouth buffalo and the introduced carp are not monitored, although in the past there have been a couple of electrofishing surveys of the carp population in Lady Bird Lake. TPWD now relies on the data collected by
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carp fishing competitions and other external sources. “One of the major challenges we face with regard to fisheries management,” says Mukhtar, “is trying to make fishing better while having fewer resources to do it with. One solution for TPWD is to form partnerships with other organizations such as fishing clubs and sportsman’s associations.
“My only claim to fame is meeting Chris Yates at his house and having a discussion about the intelligence of carp,” he adds. All nonchalant, like. As if that isn’t an opportunity I wouldn’t sacrifice my first-born child for. Growing up, he fished the Rhymney River, near Cardiff, using fishing rods that he and his friends made, and learned basic fly fishing while
All buffalo were returned unharmed These partners can benefit from joining/networking with umbrella organizations such as Friends of Reservoirs and the Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership. The latter can provide matching funds for approved projects.”
chasing grayling and stocked trout on the River Wye. He also fished a few National Rivers Authority/ Environment Agency employee tournaments for coarse fish and stocked rainbow trout and fished for mackerel a couple of times.
Texas is possibly the most progressive fish and game department in the country where carp fishing is concerned and it’s no surprise with people like Mukhtar promote it. Mukhtar grew up in Wales, UK, and studied in Bangor University. He went on to work at the UK’s Environment Agency so he’s aware of the appeal of carp fishing in Europe although he didn’t fish for them himself at the time.
These days Mukhtar tends to fish small, local ponds with his kids. And yes, he does fish for carp. “We set up some basic carp rods and then fish for bluegill and bass while waiting for bites on the carp rods.” The next survey at Lake Austin is the one I’ve really been anticipating. So, when I pull up at the 360 Bridge
to meet Mukhtar and Darin, I’m disappointed to find out that just five nets is enough to sample the lake’s catfish. Surprisingly, the first three nets don’t turn up any buffs at all. There are a couple of small carp, some impressive drum and, again, lots and lots of gar. We also catch and release some smallish triploid grass carp that are stocked into Lake Austin to control the hydrilla. The waves are starting to get a bit rough and the wind is picking up as we race down the lake for the last two nets. I’m glad of the life jacket’s extra padding around my ribs as we’re thrown around. We can tell the last two nets are heavy because the floats are in danger of being pulled under. We’ve hit the buffalo jackpot. Probably the biggest we have to untangle are around 40lb. Again, not big by the usual lake standards but there are others much bigger that power away before they can be hauled into the boat to be weighed. Thankfully the ride back to the boat ramp is short because by now the water is getting too rough to continue. This was Mukhtar’s 3rd gill net survey of the year. He’s scheduled to do electrofishing surveys of two community fishing lakes in April,
with a further three or four electrofishing surveys of major reservoirs in the fall. During 2013, the San Marcos district office will complete electrofishing surveys of five major reservoirs and four community fishing lakes. They’ll also do six gill net surveys, one trap net survey, and nine aquatic vegetation surveys. There are 14 other TPWD district fisheries management offices in the state and they all have similar workloads to the San Marcos office. Surveys are conducted every year. Most major lakes are on a four year rotation for report writing purposes, although data collection may occur many times for a particular lake during that period. Electrofishing surveys of major lakes are done in the fall, at night, and trap net surveys are also conducted in the fall. Gill net surveys are done in spring and aquatic vegetation and habitat surveys are done in the summer. It’s a challenge for TPWD to make resources stretch to enable them to monitor fish stocks, water quality and environmental conditions, and the recent lack of rain hasn’t made it any easier. “One of the most serious environmental problems we face is
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CarpPro will continue to work with Mukhtar on some exciting projects
a lack of water due to drought conditions coinciding with the increase in demand from population and industrial growth,” Mukhtar explains. “We also have to be on our guard with regard to the introduction of destructive exotic species such as zebra mussels, while some fisheries in west and central Texas face additional problems caused by toxic golden alga blooms.”
Mukhtar has worked for Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for 8 years and TPWD for another 8 years. He relocated to San Marcos, just south of Austin, a year ago and not far from CarpPro’s Texas HQ. We look forward to being able to work closely with him to protect and promote the sport of carp and buffalo angling in Texas.
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REELY? YES REALLY
There’s nothing to say that you can’t start your carp on the fly career with a reel meant for light work. There’s no rule that says you need a large arbor. And there are no regulations to say that a click and pawl drag system won’t work just fine... until it doesn’t. That’s the time you’ll wish you had a good reel that’s up to the job of taming hardfighting carp. The fact is, your first few carp will probably be handled just fine with your old reel. The problem is that, with as much stress as carp put on a reel, catastrophic failure will eventually occur, and at the least opportune time. Drags
don’t burn out when the reel is safely in the trunk of the car; they burn out under the weight of a heavy fish, an hour from the nearest spare reel, while fish are tailing all around you. Selecting a reel for carp fishing is tough. Unless you have some experience fishing in saltwater, you probably haven’t thought much about what it takes to be a good carp reel. There are a number of things to consider so our prostaffers have shared some thoughts about the reels they have settled upon.
I love my Lamson LightSpeed - it’s a really great carp reel. The design is extremely light but still durable. The drag is powerful but also silky smooth and truly sealed.
It wasn’t a secret that something was wrong. The carp was tearing across the lake and my reel was free spooling. Eventually it overran the line, back-spooled and locked up. The carp, well it broke me off with ease. I’m sure this was just an extra-strong fish but still within my normal size range. I mean, no way that would have been a personal best? Right? Please tell me I’m right! Following that experience I started my quest for a reel meant to handle fish like carp. Eventually I settle on a Tibor Backwater. I love this reel. The drag is smooth and can be set tight enough to slow a big fish without me having to resort to the dangerous task of palming the reel. There is almost no stick, so the reel doesn’t burst into spinning at the initial run and the large arbor makes for easy and fast pick up of loose line when a carp charges back at me.
John Montana Bartlett Once upon a time I believed that a fly reel's only purpose was to hold the line. Then I started fishing for carp. A short time later, sporting a sore wrist from frantically trying to reel while a carp charged me, and smelling burnt cork from a cheap drag nearly set on fire by a large carp, my opinion changed. You need something with a solid drag and, more importantly, a good sized arbor.Â After some searching, I've settled on the Orvis Hydros as my go-to carp reel. The Hydrosâ€™ drag starts up immediately, with no hitches, and the large arbor makes line retrieval a snap. This is especially important to a hack like me because when an "Apex Athlete" carp busts you off in a weed bed several hundred yards away, you don't want to spend the next 15 minutes both swearing and reeling in limp line; one of the two is fine, but not both. As a bonus, it ain't a bad looking reel either. We all know carp fisherman are into pretty things!
For the most part I use two different reels, a Loop Opti Speedrunner and a Loop Evotec G3. The Speedrunner I primarily use on a seven weight when big angry fish are a possibility. It’s a large arbor reel to say the least. We've all experienced times where we couldn't reel fast enough when a fish was coming at us, we would end up backing up or stripping in line to keep tension on the fish. That never happens while using a Speedrunner; this reel picks up line like a vacuum cleaner. I use the Evotec G3 on lighter 5-6 weight rods. It’s a much smaller reel but still technically a large arbor. This reel balances out lighter rods perfectly. These reels have identical drag systems which are completely sealed keeping out water and debris. It doesn't matter if you are fighting a fish on 5x tippet or trying to stop a freight train with 15lb tippet, these reels will get the job done. What I like the most about the reels is that they can take a beating. Carp fishing isn't forgiving on equipment and these reels are built to last.
Sage 4580 reel. The reel has great line pick up with lots of room for plenty of needed backing. Good drag system and easy to change from right to left retrieve.
Sage has one of smoothest drag systems on the market today. Lightweight and fast line retrieval make it the ultimate flats reel for golden bonefish.
My favorite reel is the Ross F1, hands down.Â The drag can arrest an ornery bull carp just like an F18 landing on the USS Nimitz.
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