Carp On The Fly
The steelhead addict has many ways to deal with withdrawal. One is to feed the addiction with something else such as alcohol, drugs, and working a lot overtime to get through the summer or driving to some far away land that still has some steelhead. Summer is my busiest time of the year and I never get the urge to skip over to Indiana for some Skamania action. But, I can moderate it with some else and it's called carp. I have the unusual distinction that when it comes to fishing, I use bait for steelhead and flies for carp.
While most of my steelheading brethren are out on the big pond chasing walleye, steelhead and perch. I'm forced to fished the local streams and the only big game are carp. I get razzed all the time because I fish for carp. I've been called a hillbilly, homo and worst. I scoffed at the walleye and perch snobs as I tell them a carp is far more intelligent and I have proof. The golden ghosts as I like to call them are extremely challenging and of course I enjoy trying to outwit them. Over the years I've gotten better.
So far this year, the fishing has been a lot better due to the lack of rain. The rivers are very low and carp are often trapped in the deeper pools and flats. During my outings after work, I can find carp feeding fairly to close to the banks. Unfortunately, tangle masses of bushes and trees can make fishing very difficult. That's where a short leader comes in handy as I use a very short one about 7' long. The reason for that is I flip or fling the fly as casting is almost impossible. Most of the time the fish are about 2 to 3 feet from the shore. With their noses in the muck, I can sneak up fairly close. My favorite fly is a steelhead fly I've tied years ago. It's large with bead eyes and mainly orange. In the water it resembles a crayfish and there is plenty of those in the rivers. Other effective flies are the wooly bugger and hex nymphs.
Despite what some people say, I have never seen a carp chase after a fly. Placing the fly is key and the best way I find is casting it a couple of feet from them and letting it drop. Some times it gets their attention and others they simply swim away. I don't chum for carp anymore as I found out that when you use corn, they prefer to eat corn. If you over chum then your going to create a feeding frenzy. Generally I've found the best time is late afternoon or early evening. The light level is lower and carp feel more secure venturing out. Over the weeks, I've been prowling the river after work. You couldn't ask for better conditions, the water is clear enough that fish can be spotted well in advance.
Slowly stalking along the river bank, I often peek around trees looking for mud plumes. Often in the mix are the quillback suckers that 99 out of 100 of ignore any presentation. But than again I'm not looking to tangle with them. Dark clothing is must as blending into the background helps. Carp have exceptional eyesight and the slightest movement will cause them to bolt. Once the fish takes the fly, let him inhale because if you set too early, you'll pull the fly out. Fishing the flats is more difficult as cover can be non existent. You have to rely on stealth and your casting has to be spot on. There's been times when I casted too close and the fish bolt.
It's still a game of cat and mouse with these fish. Some days they're jerks and other times they want to play. I still try to get the snobs to come out but they would rather have ice picks stuck in their balls.