Possibly you view a carp as a big goldfish…maybe you don’t really even know what a carp is? In the fly fishing world carp are now a pursued commodity…the freshwater bonefish as many have called them. Truth is that until just recently I hadn’t been able to actually hook a carp on a fly…but that has all changed.
I will start by giving credit to my buddy Frank Terkhorn who just recently locked horns with a 28 inch carp on a local stream. He did battle for well over an hour before finally landing the beast on his 4-weight fly rod. Frank sent me a photo and later when we talked it was a battle of wills…who would cave and give in first. Due to the likeness of Frank holding up a large carp…Frank was indeed able to overcome many snags, both literal and physical, and land a big fish on a small rod.
Quite by accident, less than two weeks later, I also had a ‘close encounter of the carp kind’. I traveled north to Sugar Creek the Sunday after our graduation and was intent on spending a couple of days traversing what I feel is the finest waterway in Indiana. I made my way north on 231 and left on 234…eventually winding up at Clement’s which is located at Deer’s Mill Covered Bridge on the east edge of Shades State Park. I talked to the manager about parking at one of their spots upstream and inquired about getting a ride back upstream to one of two put-ins. Parking was fine but there wasn’t anyone or anyway to give me a lift. Plan B meant parking at one of the areas and walking up, then down…all while fishing which was less than a half mile from my car. Between high water and lots of swimmers, kayakers and canoers…I managed to catch one paltry smallie of about 10 inches.
Plan C was to head south about 10 miles to a small creek located in the middle of ‘no-where’. I love to fish these micro-creeks. I think it goes back to fishing the small creek that used to flow through my grandpa’s farm many years ago; just like a dog with a porcupine…I just can’t get enough of walking and casting to these small creeks. I parked, grabbed my 3-weight rod and a lanyard full of small creek flies and was off. The first hole was due north of the bridge and it screamed smallmouth. I tied on a small, size 8, rabbit strip streamer…the fly had a yellow collar and it stood out well in the dingy, off-colored water. My first cast was successful as I hauled in a 4 inch creek chub…not exactly what I was after. Creek chubs are quite annoying because they flourish and sprint to a fly. The problem is that the desired fish, a smallmouth in this case, just can’t get to a fly before the drones of chubs.
The second hole was even better and this time I made one accurate cast and allowed my streamer to dead drift past a downed log. I saw a flash and without thinking strip set on a chubby and simply beautiful 12 inch smallie. Now that might not sound like a lunker but in a stream as small as this…it was a trophy.
The third and fourth holes also produced one nice smallmouth per accurate casts; I was still in sight of the truck and had landed three nice fish. As I rounded the bend and peered into the next long, still hole I could see something large making ripples. Immediately I thought that if this was a smallie I’d have to name this hole…Megatron. As I neared, the ripples became identifiable, it was several carp moving from side to side. I decided that even with a 3-weight in my hand I’d give it a try. My fly landed about a foot from the largest of the pack-what happened next was way cool and I wish I had had my GoPro on and running. The fish spun around and sucked in my fly…I set the hook and then thought, “What have I done”? I knew that this fish was way too large for my rod…less than thirty feet away was a downed tree that for sure would be my death. I made the executive decision to apply great force and attempt to beach the ‘great whale’. To my surprise it worked and I took both hands and lifted up a 26 inch carp that probably weighed somewhere around 7-8 pounds. There in his upper lip was my yellow streamer…if I’d drawn it up it wouldn’t have been this easy.
Now you might think this is the end to my carp story…wrong! I could tell that bad weather was moving in, actually I could hear the thunder and decided to head south on highway 59 and make my way back down to the Linton area and fish a few of the lakes the next day. After a two-hour drive and an awesome night’s sleep in my new teardrop camper I was back on the water, atop my Creek Company ODC 420 float tube. I spent the morning casting big flies for big bass (and I am still bummed as I lost a giant bass that broke me off).
By mid-morning I was off the big lake and made my way east to Greene-Sullivan where I returned to one of my favorite haunts…I used to fish Graveyard as a teen and decided to once again give it a go. It was still raining as I pushed off and kicked backwards about 100 yards to the other side. I once again had my 3-weight rod; I would be fishing a rubber legged wooly bugger for bass, bluegill, etc… Or so I thought. My first cast produced a three pound carp…what followed was pretty amazing. Over the next couple of hours I landed carp after carp. There was a moth hatch going on; the moths were dropping down on the lake, fluttering until they would get submerged…which triggered the carp who would swoop in and suck em’ up. My bugger looked like a match and all I can say is wow! What a totally fun afternoon…and I am hooked (pun intended) on carp.
If you’d like to see a fun video of me catching carp from my float tube, click here. If you haven’t tried fly fishing for carp…then what are you waiting for? Once again I won’t ever look at any fish with a ‘snobbish’ view as these fish are some of the most sporting I have ever had on a fly rod. It just goes to prove that you can’t always judge a fish by its….OK you know where I’m going. You want a line ripping experience then give carp on the fly a try; I know you will once again Enjoy the Great Outdoors.