Carp Time is the Right Time!

It is apparent by looking at social media that Carp Time is the Right Time! For once I am totally in agreement with social media, fly fishing for carp is by far one of the most excited and most rewarding experiences a fly fisherman can have. For everyone that thinks that carp are a trash fish, not worth your time, please continue to think this so that I can fish them in your stead. But for those that already know how fun these fish are let’s take a moment and all agree that when you set the hook on a carp they sound like R2-D2 screaming. Ok, so they don’t literally make that sound, but I swear in my head, that is sound I always imagine them making when I set the hook.

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Disclaimer: I am not expert on fishing for carp, I am a novice!

Here are some of the challenges you will experience if you have never fly fished for carp:

  1. Not using the proper rod can be disastrous.
  2. Not using the proper leader can be disastrous.
  3. Not using the proper tippet can be disastrous.
  4. They are easily spooked.
  5. They can see you coming.
  6. They can hear you coming.
  7. They put off a pheromone to warn other carp around them that there is danger.
  8. They stink.
  9. They will slim you.
  10. You must be able to cast to them accurately.
  11. They always swallow your fly; you will need forceps or barbless flies.
  12. You’ll never truly know what fly they are feeding on; they eat everything.
  13. You will get skunked fishing for carp.

So why are they so much fun?

Remember the biggest brown trout or small mouth bass that you ever caught; remember the fight that they put up. Remember how your line reel screamed as that fish tried to muscle towards its freedom.  Now remember that pure joy when you finally netted that beast. This, my friend, is why carp on the fly has been getting so much attention. Carp are powerhouse fish- even the smallest will probably take you to your backing like a big trout or bass will do- you will have to fight them every step of the way to shore/boat. These fish get big, really big! Good luck if you are using a traditional trout net, because these fish will probably not fit into one of those.

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Okay, okay, so maybe you are one of those that do not care for the fight that these fish display, nor how big they really can get. Instead you are more of technical fly fisherman; you dream of the perfect stalk, then the perfect cast, followed by a perfect mend, then a tight line, finished by the perfect take! Well carp do not suffer fools; they require all of the action and precision that a technical fly fisherman love about the sport and more.

Going back to the disclaimer; I am a novice when it comes to fly fishing for carp, but I am not a novice when it comes to fly fishing in general.  Fly fishing for carp is a very humbling experience to say the least. You will have to be able to read water, stalk carp, and be very sneaky; the slightest noise or shadow will send these fish racing away. Also of note: carp often feed in packs and let out a pheromone when they sense danger warning the other carp nearby. If you scare one you scare the whole pod away as well. Well shit! Yep, even if you are good at reading, stalking, and being sneaky, you will have to choose the perfect fly, be able to sight cast with precision (within one foot in front of the fish), then you will have to slowly get your line tight, and patiently wait on the slightest tug (unless you are using a strike indicator, which can also be disastrous if it spooks the carp). Well SHIT! Like I said, these fish are a technical fly fisherman’s dream come true. Ultimately if your fly line, leader, or tippet touch these fish, if your fly line or fly makes too much noise hitting the water’s surface, if you are lazy, impatient, and do not respond to the slightest take all of the carp you were fishing for will disappear into a big cloud of mud. WELL SHIT!

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Honestly it blows my mind when someone one (spin fisherman and/or fly fisherman) says they wouldn’t fish for carp. I always hear, “ugh, I wouldn’t eat them; why are you fishing for those fish?” Who the hell cares if they are not desirable to eat! When was the last time you went fishing solely for the purpose of catching to keep?  Let’s be honest, you never went to catch to keep, you went fishing to catch fish- to experience the fight. If you want fish to eat, save yourself money on a fishing license and go buy a fish at the local supermarket.  Carp fishing will not only humble you; it will make you into a better technical angler, rewarding you with the fight of a life time-that you earned- every time you hook into a carp.

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P.S. If you are still not impressed with carp, please continue to not fish for them. It makes fishing a heck of a lot easier when I am not elbow to elbow with people.

P.P.S If you are interested in carp on the fly then I suggest you read/buy this book: Carp on the Fly: A flyfishing guide by Barry Reynolds, John Berryman, and Brad Befus

 

Game Plan for Summer 2017

Oh the changing of the seasons, I cannot explain to you how eager I have been for summer weather. To hell with Fall, Winter, and Spring! This past trout season has been one of my worst; from very crowded streams, to piss poor stocking by the VDGIF, and snapping the tip off of my Recon rod, I am very ready for warm water fishing. I haven’t given up on trout altogether, but there is some remarkable feeling about being out on a kayak in the middle of the river, fishing for various fish, that I have been missing since last Fall.

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Luckily here in the Roanoke Valley the capability for kayak fishing and warm water fishing is outstanding. Not only do we have the Roanoke River right in our back yard, but we also have the New River, the James River, Smith Mountain Lake, Claytor Lake, Carvins Cove, and several large streams within a reasonable driving range, that hold a large variety of warm water fish. I am stoked to say the least.

This summer I am dedicating my time to knocking out as many warm water “Trophy-sized fish” as I can in order to get my Master Angler award from the state of Virginia. If you have never checked out this program that the state of Virginia is offering you should, it seems like an exceptional way to get Virginian’s fishermen, which are in a set selection of fish, to fish for other species around the state. The only rule that I am imposing on myself for this goal is that I can only achieve this award by using fly fishing gear only. Sorry spin fishermen I will never go back to the dark side of fishing again.

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After studying the criteria for Virginia’s “Trophy-sized fish” I came to the realization that several levels of the Master Angler Award can definitely be achieved by a fisherman here in the Roanoke Valley with very little travel involved. The only exception will probably be trout; more than likely a person will have to travel to a spring creek or a mountain river (Jackson River or North River) in order to find a large trout during the summer months.

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So here are my ideas (feel free to correct me if I am wrong or if I am missing anything):

Smallmouth Bass: New River or the James River

Largemouth Bass: Local Ponds, Claytor Lake, and Smith Mountain Lake

Striped Bass: Smith Mountain Lake and Roanoke River

Hybrid Striped Bass: Claytor Lake

Rock Bass: New River, the James River, Smith Mountain Lake, and Claytor Lake

White Bass: Smith Mountain Lake

Chain Pickerel: Pandapas Pond and maybe Carvins Cove (I will need to research Carvins Cove more)

Crappie: the New River and the James River

Musky: New River or the James River (this I will have to watch because of water temps, I don’t want to kill them)

Sunfish: Any stream or river around Roanoke

Carp: Any river or lake around Roanoke

Walleye: the New River, the James River, the Staunton River (the Staunton River is 1 hour 40 mins away from Roanoke)

Brook Trout: holed up, big brookies stocked in the Roanoke River. Also any state fee fishing area (i.e. Crooked Creek or Wilson Creek)

Brown Trout: Mossy Creek and the North River in Harrisburg. Any river that might have hold overs in it, and also any state fee fishing area (i.e. Crooked Creek or Wilson Creek)

Rainbow Trout: Mossy Creek and any stream/river that might have hold overs. Also any state fee fishing area (i.e. Crooked Creek or Wilson Creek).

Hopefully by the end of the Summer I will have achieved at least one level, maybe even two. Even if I do not achieve any levels this summer, I am going to fun, challenge myself, and better my current knowledge as a fisherman here in Virginia and I implore each of my readers to do the same this summer. If you do not currently live here in Virginia check your current state’s programs, hopefully they will have something similar to this program.

 

Master Angler Program

Trophy Fish Size Chart

 

 

The Lies of Leaders, and Tippets, and Men!

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Caught on the Roanoke River

Whether you are a newbie or an old head to fly fishing there is one thing that will always be a constant; fly fishing costs money. Unless you really pay a lot of attention to finances, fly fishing will not seem altogether to be an expensive sport at first glance. Besides the initial purchase of a quality fly line, rod, reel and a few other necessities, most of your common purchases that you will have to incur will be flies, leaders, and tippets.

While these items don’t look to be that expensive at the point of purchase, they will in fact cost you a pretty penny over a course of a year. Fortunately, this cost will only happen if you let it happen. In my previous post Flies! Flies! Flies! I went over how you can save a tremendous amount of money by not purchasing flies you will never use and the benefits of tying your own flies. In this post I will help you contend with the rising cost of leaders and tippets.

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Caught on the Roanoke River

For the sake of this argument, let us say on average you fish every weekend during the year. You are using a loop to loop connection for your fly line to your leader and a blood knot for your leader to tippet connection. On average you will go through at least one leader per month using a blood knot connection ($5.00 per leader) and you will go through a roll of tippet line every month and a half ($10.00 per roll). This adds up to an average of $140 that you will spend, per year, fly fishing. However these numbers can go up and down depending on the type of leaders and tippets you use. Unfortunately there is no way of getting around the fact that you will need both a leader and a tippet in order to fly fish.

So, if you absolutely have to have a leader and tippet to fly fish; what can you do save money? Putting it simply, you need to forget using traditional knots (i.e. blood knots) to connect your leader to your tippet. First: if you get snagged or hook a fish and it breaks you off, using traditional knots you have a chance that your leader will be what breaks when it happens.  Second: every time you have to replace your whole tippet using traditional knots you will also be losing a portion of leader, eventually this leads to the diameter of the leader being too large and making it unusable.

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Caught on the Roanoke River

Instead of using traditional knots, try using tippet rings or loop to loop connections to connect the leader to the tippet. Tippet rings attach right to the end of your leader, then you attach your tippet straight to them. The down side is that they normally break off on the leader side when you get snagged, and they are very hard to get tied on to both your leader and your tippet. Personally I do not recommend tippet rings. My solution is to use a loop to loop connection with your leader and tippet, like you would use with your fly line and leader. By doing this you will save the life of your leader from constant shortening when changing out tippets. Also it is a very strong knot; when you do get snagged or avfish snaps your line, the break usually happens right at the connection or somewhere on the tippet. Over the past year of using this type of connection I have only had to change out my leaders twice, which using my average cost of leaders has saved me $50.

Now that we have cut a big portion out the leader budget for the year; where can we save money on tippets? This question was very hard for me, I always use a dual nymph rig when fly fishing.   Before I was putting each fly 10-12 inches apart from each other, so if I got snagged I would lose the first fly altogether and enough tippet between flies that I was forced to only use the single nymph. My solution was spacing of the fly; I use at least 16 inches in between nymphs so that if I do get snagged I will still have enough tippet to run the second nymph. Also I force myself to read the waters I am fishing to see if I am justified in running a dual nymph rig. The final thing that will save you money on tippets is a strike indicator. Yes I know, a lot of people do not like this method, but hear me out. When you’re using a strike indicator you are able to adjust the depth of your fly in the water. If you are constantly snagging, adjust your strike indicator down a couple of inches until it is no longer snagging. The nymph will still be on the bottom of the river/creek where trout tend to feed the most, but it will no longer be snagging, which will save you on tippet material. Honestly, for me, doing small changes like these have brought me down to an average of 3 rolls of tippet per year, which is $50 savings in my budget.

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Caught on the Roanoke River (same fish as above)

My only other piece of advice is concerning strike indicators; if you haven’t tried out the New Zealand Strike Indicator system then you should. They are simply a joy to work with, they don’t ruin your leader, they don’t feel bulky while casting, they float like a cork, and one bag of their wool has lasted me over two years now. I will never go back to previous strike indicators because of how well the New Zealand Strike Indicator has worked.

Ending as I have said in my previous posts, ultimately it is up to you. If you are diehard when it comes to your style of fly fishing then stick with it, but if you want to try a way to save money on fly fishing try out these ideas and see if they work for you.

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Caught on Potts Creek