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