Sleeping carp are tough. But catchable. After getting destroyed looking for big fish I stumbled onto at least 50 carp sleeping in the sun. Sleeping/sunning carp in deep water are my least favorite targets...but in shallow water they can be caught. Step number one, be a stealthy son of a bitch. Step two, dap a soft hackle on the fish. Rinse and repeat. I stuck a bunch of the sunbathers...fortunately they were spread put in a long line so I just inched along and pulled them from the pack. Occasionally I would have to wake the fish up to get them to eat. This is best accomplished by setting your fly on their nose. They usually shake their head like a dog, back up and eat the falling fly. After today, I am now saying that sleeping carp in shallow water are easy. The deep water sleepers still suck though.
The trick is in the retrieve. On the way back, I had caught my fill of fish and decided to mess with various retrieves. I had visions of Door County in my head and really wanted to see if I could get the fish to chase. I stuck to soft hackles, but tried long, slow retrieves, sudden stop and go, fast foot long strips, and then it happened. I put the soft hackle to the right of a cruiser and started stripping in fast, tiny, one inch pulls. The fish perked up and eased forward and I let the fly settle...paused, and then more fast, one inch strips. After a few strips the line came tight and it was fish on! I repeated this retrieve all the way back and it flat out worked like a charm. I still had to put the fly much closer than in Door County but the short strips seemed to get some attention, and while I wouldn't say the fish were chasing, the definitely moved to the fly. My usual method of sinking the fly in view and letting the fish find it is deadly, but it was fun to get the fish to move a bit!
The last thing I learned today...mirror carp are still the coolest.