In Search Of Carp

Walking the flats in search of carp never gets old to me.  Slowly working my way towards the “Nervous Water” and seeing a huge tail slowly break the waters surface always gets my heart pumping.  Launching 70+ feet of line to a feeding fish in the middle of a pod is always exhilarating.  As I slowly retrieve my fly, the line is nearly ripped from my hand, and I strip set as fast as I can.  The hook set is one of the main reasons I love chasing carp.  Then there is the initial run.  Nothing runs like a carp.  I really enjoy fishing for trout and target them far more often than carp, but a trout has never put me into my backing.  A carp almost always put me into my backing.

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Common Carp

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Shoulders

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Brent With a Snake River Common Carp

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The Mountains Are Still Covered in Snow

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Brent’s Personal Best Common – Quite the fish!

Carp also tend to be very unpredictable, and that is part of the draw for me.  I love a fish that is going to put all of my skills to the test.  When fly fishing for carp, you are on their terms.  If they aren’t feeding, it can be very difficult to convince them to.  A flat can be phenomenal and chuck full of carp on Thursday, only to be barren of fish on Saturday.  Sometimes even the slightest change in temperature will completely shut them down.  Then again, I have caught them in the middle of a blizzard with air temps hovering only a couple degrees above freezing.  I am still trying to figure out what weather pattern really gets them going.

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One of My Biggest Common’s

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Brent With a Pale Mirror

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Clean Golden Common

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One of Kyle’s First Carp on the Fly

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Cookie Cutter for the Day

The more I fish for carp, I am starting to realize how much their behavior and feeding habits change depending on where they live.  In the Snake River, they tend to really key in on crawdad patterns.  Even something as simple as a slight change in color can be the difference between catching five fish that day or fifteen fish.  The Snake River fish are very good at spitting your fly out quickly.  You have about half a second to set the hook or else that fish is gone.  In contrast, Blackfoot Reservoir carp will chase down your fly and hit it  with a vengeance.  The Blackfoot fish are also less picky about what they are willing to eat.  Why is there such a contrast in these fish?  I’ve yet to figure that out.  Then you have the Bear River, where the carp act like trout.  They hang off of riffles and behind big boulders in the middle of the river, even directly below check dams in the turbid water.  You can throw a wooly bugger at these fish and they will follow it into the fast moving water and hit so hard they set the hook on themselves.  They also tend to be significantly smaller than the Snake River and Blackfoot Reservoir carp, generally in the 5 – 7 lb range, but the visual eats make catching these smaller fish just as enjoyable as catching the bigger 20 + lb fish.

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Brent With Another Common

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Round

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Brent’s Hefty Mirror

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Long One

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Evening Mirror

If you haven’t targeted carp on the fly yet, you are really missing out!  Yes, they are not native to our waters here in the United States, and in some situations they may even be a nuisance (not the case in Idaho in my opinion), but they are here to stay so why not make the best of it?  The tug is the drug, and nothing tugs like a carp!

Get Organized

What do you do when it is too cold outside to cast a fly?  You get organized of course!  Organizing your fly boxes is also a great time to take inventory of what you have and what you need to tie more of.  Can you ever have too many flies?  I don’t think so.  Everyone has different ways they like to organize their things.  Here are a few of my boxes that I got around to straightening up during our most recent period of subzero temps.

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Dries and Nymphs

While getting organized, I often like to think about the places I would like to fish throughout the year.  I think about what time of year certain flies work best.  Sorting through my still water patterns got me excited for kicking around in my float tube, chasing tasty perch and chunky ‘bows.

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Still Water

Sorting through my hopper and salmon fly box reminds me of much warmer days.  Every spring, usually in late May or early June, the Salmon fly hatch goes off.  Fishing the salmon fly hatch does not require a lot of technical skills, but it can be a lot of fun.  It is one of the few times of the year that big browns will come up from the rivers depths and actively feed on the surface.  As summer really starts to heat up, throwing hoppers can provide some of the most exciting fishing to be found.  There is something awesome about watching a big trout slowly rise from the depths of a pool and inhale your hopper.

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Stoneflies and Hoppers

My carp flies remind me of walking the flats in search of a good mud line.  My first carp of 2012 came during the first week of March.  I am hoping to catch one even earlier this year.  I plan to focus a lot more of my time this year on chasing carp and really improving my carp fishing skill set.  More than anything, I’d like to land a carp over 30 lbs this year.

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Carp Treats

The temps here in Eastern Idaho are finally starting to warm up a little and I have been able to get out and do some fishing again.  Thank goodness the trout don’t mind the cold.  Cabin fever seems to set in all to quick when I am not able to be out on the water.

This Week in Review

Earlier in the week I started typing up a long report only to have it all get deleted when my internet connection dropped.  I’ve always felt that pictures tell a story better than words anyways.  The long story short…Salmon flies on Monday, Carp on Wednesday, Bass and gills’ on Friday, and a big ol’ skunk on Saturday.

Kyle and his First Carp on the Fly

My First Carp of the Day

My Best Carp of the Day

Bugle Mouth

A Chunky Cutthroat Trout

Tasty Dinner

First Bass of the Year (Other than Ice Fishing)

First Bluegill of the Year

This week provided a lot of great fishing.  The cooler nights have kept the carp, bass, and bluegill a little slow at most lakes but I know that as the weather warms up the fishing will also pick up.  Things should only keep getting better from here on out.