Carp are now a worthy target for a fly rod in the United States


Fly fishing for carp? For many anglers, the first answer might be “Why?” For cold-water anglers, the carp has long been the subject of petty jokes, a species more likely to be pursued with a bow and arrow than a pearl-headed nymph. But the fly fishing mindset towards Cyprinus carpio is changing.

Will Rice, a Denver-based outdoor writer, had his “carptharsis” moment a few years ago.

“During the spring runoff, trout fishing in the Colorado Rockies just doesn’t happen,” Rice said. “One May, a friend and I were itching to get a line wet, so we headed east from Denver to fish for a wiper tank,” a hybrid of striped bass and white bass.

“We hired a boat and started spinning,” he said. “Around the edges, the high water had pushed over the banks into grassy plains. We looked closer and saw all these fish moving about – 10- to 12-pound fish – finning, mudding, even tailing. were carp. We didn’t catch any that day, but it was eye-opening to see fish behaving like that – the way bonefish and license behave. Carp is a species you can fish on sight with a fly rod without traveling to the Caribbean.Comparisons to bonefish in terms of nervousness and strength have earned the carp the nickname of the golden ghost.

The common carp belongs to the family Cyprinidae, the largest group of freshwater fish. Distinguished by large, sometimes golden scales, barbells, a sturdy profile and a small mouth, the carp can reach over four feet and nearly 100 pounds, although 2-3 foot 10-20 pound specimens are more frequently encountered in the United States. Aesthetically speaking, carp, which lacks the streamlined shape and delicate watercolor patterns of trout, is an acquired taste for some.

“I think carp is maligned here because it’s not considered a classic dish – although it was brought to North America in the 1800s specifically for that purpose,” said editor Kirk Deeter. head of Field & Stream and a member of a clan of fly fishers who regularly hunt carp in the South Platte River in downtown Denver. “It’s one of the toughest fish in the world. They can live in almost any condition – hot or cold water, clean or dirty – and are easily accessible just about anywhere you live. Go to a local lake or golf pond, carp are the fish you are likely to see. If you want to sight-cast a tailed fish that could weigh 10 pounds or more, carp is what you need.

Deeter added: “I like to equate carp fishing with football. Around the world, carp is the No. 1 sport fish. Huge sums are spent on carp fishing. But here in America, it’s just starting to catch on.

This may be true for casual anglers, but many professionals know this better. Ask the guides at the best trout streams in the American West what they do on their days off, and they’ll shyly admit that they hunt carp.

“There’s a pretty common theme for anglers getting excited about carp,” Rice said. “They start by fly fishing for trout, then go on a saltwater trip where they catch bonefish and tarpon. During saltwater fishing, something clicks about getting bigger fish on the fly. When they get home and fish for trout again, that big fish thrill is a bit lacking. Then they discover the carp.

Carps are catholic feeders; they will feast on aquatic insects at all stages of their life, crayfish, baitfish – even plant matter, such as blackberries. Anglers should not confuse the carp’s wide appetite with a license for sloppy presentations. Carp have highly developed senses of sight, hearing, smell and touch. This scares them easily. A frightened fish emits a pheromone that warns other nearby fish of potential danger. If you misfire and fend off a fish, there’s a good chance that any other fish in the immediate area will also go away.

“On the South Platte, I believe the fish eat mostly crayfish, so I’m relying on imitation crayfish or crabs,” Rice said. “I use the same crab models that I use for license. Ultimately it’s all about watching the catch. Seeing a nice carp suck in a fly is always a thrill. When you set the hook they don’t even know what’s going on – they just keep going. When they realize something’s wrong, the water explodes and they’re off. The big ones roll slowly like an 18 wheeler in low gear. The smaller fish can melt the reel line.

Chris Wood, president and chief executive of conservation organization Trout Unlimited, said: “Before having a family, fishing meant going to the end of the road and bushwhacking as far into the woods as possible. The further back you go, the fewer people and the better the fishing. Now one of my favorite places to go is the C&O Canal in Washington, DC I take my sons with me, and we fish from the towpath and catch big carp. When Texas mulberries are ripe with berries and the berries fall into the water, the fish take them to the surface. We use mulberry patterns and fish them like dry flies. If the hatch is open, it’s as exciting as catching bonefish.

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