Year of the Carp

A few years back I set out with a goal to learn all I could about catching carp on the fly.  Carp have always been an intriguing species to me, mostly because of their massive size.  My first experience with fishing for carp came sometime around the age of 8 or 9.  I was blessed to grow up in a neighborhood with several fishing ponds.  Most of the ponds had bass and bluegill, but a couple of them had a small population of very large grass carp.  Day in and day out, I did all that I could to try and catch these wary fish.  I tried every fly in the box.  I even went to several fly shops around town in search of carp flies, only to discover that they didn’t really exist at the time.  One of my old favorite shops in Boise, Anglers (the Orvis shop) had an employee that gave me a handful of flies he had tied up for carp, free of charge.  I don’t recall his name, but I am still grateful for his generosity.  Even these flies couldn’t fool the picky grass carp, although they would have been very effective for their less picky cousins!  Eventually I discovered I could catch them by tying a clump of grass onto a bare hook with Monofilament line.  Yes, it was technically bait fishing, but as a young kid I didn’t really care.  I just wanted to feel the pull of a massive three-foot fish on the end of my line.  Now, some fifteen years later, I can say with confidence I know how to stick carp on the fly just about anywhere in Idaho.  I’ve fished all over the state, in a variety of different situations.  Some very technical, others not so much.  In the near future, I plan to do a feature on several different places to fish for carp in the state of Idaho.  Enjoy some photos of my carp fishing adventures thus far in 2015. The Snake River: IMG_2107 IMG_4746_2 IMG_4751 IMG_3187 IMG_3199 IMG_3226 IMG_3265 IMG_3281 IMG_3296 IMG_3366 IMG_3428 IMG_3411 IMG_3425 IMG_3882 IMG_3889 IMG_3903 IMG_3946 Photo Jun 24, 8 59 25 PM Utah IMG_2364 IMG_3435 IMG_3482 IMG_2400 Utah Carp Blackfoot Reservoir IMG_2945 IMG_2996 IMG_3142 IMG_3025 IMG_3041 IMG_3099 IMG_3105 IMG_3180 IMG_3181 IMG_3182 IMG_3317 IMG_3154 IMG_4849 IMG_4867 IMG_4899_2 IMG_4919 IMG_4944 IMG_4973_2 Lake X IMG_4593_2 IMG_4550 IMG_4522_2 IMG_4500_2 IMG_4491 IMG_4295 IMG_4291_2 IMG_4448_2 IMG_4248 IMG_4232_2 IMG_4219 IMG_4201

Up Your Stonefly Game

Between Salmon Flies and Golden Stones, it’s safe to say Stonefly season is well under way.  Here are a few tips to help you take your Stonefly game to the next level.

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1. Skate it

In the infamous words of Mr. Hank Patterson,”You’re gonna wanna skate that fly!”  In all seriousness, skating your fly effectively can be the difference between a five-fish day and a twenty-fish day.  This is especially true when you are floating a stretch of river with heavy guide traffic and clients that are just learning to fish.  True, sometimes stoneflies will just sit on the water and float down, but most of the time they will be moving.  The most effective method I have found to skate my flies is to lift my rod tip, and slowly wiggle it back and forth while stripping it in.  It also helps if you only fish dry (Go ahead, be a man and cut that rubber legs off).  It takes a little getting used to, but that can be said with most things pertaining to fly fishing.  If you haven’t tried this method before, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

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2. Don’t just focus on the Banks

When most people think of Salmon Fly fishing, they usually think of floating down a river from a drift boat and hitting the banks.  Although bank fishing can be extremely effective, once again it is what most anglers are going to be doing.  Most rivers that have a healthy supply of stoneflies also have a large number of mid river drop offs, riffles, and boulders.  Stoneflies are not weak fliers and can easily cross a couple hundred feet of river.  Eastern Idaho is notoriously windy, so bugs get blown into the middle of the river frequently.  The mid river fish are aware of this.  Just throw a nymph rig for a few minutes and count how many times your bobber gets hit.

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3. Pack a Sharpie

Most Stonefly patterns are a single toned color on the bottom, typically orange or gold.  If you pick up a Salmon Fly or Golden and exam its belly, you’ll notice they have black striations all the way up to their thorax.  Take a minute and draw these on with a sharpie.  Big fish that have seen 100 chubby chernobyl’s pass by them during the peak of the hatch will notice this minute difference in your fly.  Take advantage of this simple fix and you will reap the rewards.

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4. Fish Late in the Hatch

Most people that make an annual pilgrimage to fish the salmon fly hatch plan their trip around the period of time the bugs just start hatching.  This can be problematic and ineffective for a variety of different reasons.  First and foremost, trout love eating stonefly nymphs.  Before the nymphs hatch, they must leave their protective lairs and migrate to the banks.  The fish know this, and they eat until they’re about to pop.  There are few things more frustrating than fishing the salmon fly hatch when there are hordes of adults flying around, but not a single fish eating.  Second, the river is most crowded when the hatch first starts. Simply put, too many people throwing at the same spots all day long puts the fish down.  Third, fish will still eat big bugs even when none are around.  If you wait a few days after the hatch is over, you will find the fish much more willing to eat.  Pressure is typically down, the fish are no longer gorged, and they are still excited to get a big meal.  I recently fished a stretch of river that the majority of the hatch had already gone through.  The water was high and dirty, wading was tough, and there weren’t a ton of adult Salmon Flies around.  With that said, I had one of the most extraordinary few hours of dry fly action I’ve ever experienced.  Don’t be afraid to throw those big bugs even if you don’t see any around.

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5. Wait to set that hook

Last but not least, don’t jump the gun on the hook set.  Sight fishing is exhilarating, and it can be very easy to set the hook too early.  Let the fish come up, eat your fly, begin to drop back down, and then you set the hook.  This process can take less than a second, so learning to time it correctly is key.  Learn to do so, and you will increase your catch rate significantly.  Along with waiting on the hook set is another important factor.  If you see a large trout rise to your fly, only to refuse, DO NOT PULL YOUR FLY AWAY.  Often times, these fishing are testing your presentation.  Most anglers will get over excited and rip the fly away.  While fishing the Henry’s Fork earlier this year, I had a large brown rise to my fly, only to coldly refuse my offering and disappear back into the depths.  I patiently let my fly continue to drift and proceeded to watch the fish turn around 180 degrees, run downriver a couple feet, and inhale my fly.  It was worth the agonizing wait.

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Hopefully one of these tips will help you up your game and catch that big trout you’ve been after!  If you have any tips or tricks you’d like to ad, please feel free to share them in the comments below!

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Brown Trout Supreme

Not once have I ever heard a fellow fly fisherman utter the words, “Oh, it’s just another brown.”  Even small browns are a treat.  Larger browns are a prized possession. Many sleepless nights have consumed my time; time spent searching for a single fish that only comes out to feed in the still of the night.  Brown trout reign supreme in the eyes of many anglers and have rightfully earned that standing.  Despite their voracious nature, they are also extremely wary, offering a challenge to any who are willing to accept.  The past few weeks have offered many exciting opportunities to fish for browns and my friends and I have not been disappointed.

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Henry’s Fork Butter Ball

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Two Handfuls of Streamer Eatin’ Brownie

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Slab of Silver

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Mouthful of Mylar

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Chris with More River Gold

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Magic Dragon Muncher

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Salmon Fly Eater

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Darkie

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Kyle with a Brownie that Smashed the Peanut Envy 

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Hitting the Banks

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Connect the Dots

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Canal Fishing has its Perks

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As Wild as the Come

If you haven’t spent much time targeting browns, now is the time to start.  I promise you won’t be disappointed!