Mr. P and I figure that between the two of us we have walked roughly 290 miles of the Columbia river...on both sides. Granted, we may have skipped some stretches but ultimately that is a relatively true statement. I tell people all the time that if you walk a half mile of river in the middle of July and DON'T see a carp...you aren't looking. We have a target rich environment.
With winter bearing down on us though, I find myself wishing I could find the carp right now. Where do they go on the big c? No idea really, though I assume they run deep, find a temperature they like and hang out in a gigantic carp ball. That would be quite a sight. One thing I have figured out is that I am much more likely to find them when the temperature is warming than when it is cooling. A 52 degree water temp on the drop...empty flats and bays...52 degrees on the rise, well, you have a shot then. If you know what to look for.
Basically, you want three things. First, you need a stretch of water that is totally out of the current. Much of the Columbia is slow, but almost all of it moves at some pace...find the areas that are the most stagnant and you are 1/3 of the way to an early season river carp. Second, sun. You need a place that will soak in the rays...no shadows, cliffs, weird topography that limits the light...you want that stagnant water soaking up the rays. Lastly, you want a dark, softer bottom to absorb that light. Anyone that reads this knows that most of my season is spent stalking cold, cobble and gravel bars, but when you want to find them in late February or early March you gotta play the game. The glory shots will come in July...find the mud, find the sun, and avoid the current and you can find early season river carp.