Wednesday, July 16, 2014

20 lb math

I sell freight for a living (essentially), but that wasn't always the plan. I have a degree in English lit with a concentration in creative writing...I mention this just to make it clear that I am not much of a numbers guy. Math bores me, number perplex me and in general, I am just smart enough to know I am not really that smart. That said, I was thinking about the number 20 today. The whole concept of 20+ lb carp on the fly has been sort of the level setting device for me and my buddies the past few years. We catch a lot of very nice carp, we weigh a ton of fish and 20 lbs evolved as the goal simply because it was rare, but attainable. Catching a 20 lb anything on a fly rod and artificial fly (no scent) should be isn't easy, and it doesn't happen as often as you wish it would. So...some simple math.

This year in 2014 I have caught roughly 320 carp. Granted, this isn't an exact number, but is pretty close...say plus or minus 20 fish (more likely plus to be honest). It has been an unbelievable start to the year, and in general I usually finish with somewhere around 350 carp to hand. If I keep fishing until October and have enough solo days, I am pretty sure I can break 400 this year. I have caught carp in 9 states in my life, and every year for the past 5 years I fish two of what by any measure would be called "destination carp waters" in the mighty Columbia River, and the beautiful clear waters of Lake MI. My aim is always twofold...catch a fish over 20 lbs, or catch a mirror carp. As such, I frequently walk by smaller tailing fish IF I am in "big fish water." I never risk spooking an unseen 20 to catch a 9 lber. I always cast to the largest fish I can see, regardless of the quality of the shot vs another shot, and I weigh anything that I think will break 15 lbs with a digital scale. Lastly, I cover a LOT of water. My last time out I clocked 2.65 miles in the water, one way.

This year, I have landed exactly 19 carp that weighed more than 20lbs.


So the math is pretty simple...19/320 = 6%. That is an astonishingly low percentage to me. I like to think that my home water is one of the absolute best resources for carp on the fly when you combine the numbers, size, water etc., and Lake MI is clearly at the top of the list as well. I do everything I can possibly do in order to target the biggest possible fish, and still only 6 out of every 100 fish I catch are over 20 lbs. I don't keep detailed logs, but that number seems to sit well with my general memory of the past several years (when my dumb little literary mind started to pay attention to the numbers).

So, a 20 lb carp on the fly is a really big least the way I look at it. Yes, it is an arbitrary number but the percentages seem right to make it a good goal for any fly rod angler...and it is a nice, round figure.


What say the rest of you anglers? Is 20 lbs the right goal? Is 6% representative of the likelihood of catching a 20 lb fish on your water?


Unknown said...

Carp in my world are heavily pressured and stunted. Median size is about 4-7 lbs. with big ones maybe breaching 10 lbs. Possible in the Missouri River there are some submarines, but it is rather gross looking this far down the flow.

Chances of catching a 20 lb. carp on my waters of choice? 0% so far.

Mark Landermasn said...

I need a boga. I just guess.........I think I have gotten one or two over 20, but hey.......Wyoming isn't know as a carp destination, right?

John Montana said...

Mark, better off with a net and scale. Boga's are made for toothy critters and will rip the lips of carp. I use a cheap berkely digital.

Gregg said...

I'd say less than 6%. I can catch a 20 lb. fish in a fertile pond as it fills with Snake R. carp in a flood, say every 10 years or so, and know I have, but need a scale to verify that. I recently found some huge fish closer, but 20 would be pushing it, they were probably topping 15 barely, but a surprise to see what I did. As I have never caught 400 carp in 9 years, my % is dismally low.


Unknown said...

Considering I fish your waters and pass up NO tailing fish my numbers have to be lower than yours. Then again I don't carry a scale and have no idea what a 20lb-er looks like... My guess is my percentage is 0%

Nate said...

Unquestionably there are plenty of huge carp around where I fish near Memphis, TN. I would not be surprised at all for a world record carp to come from my area, but not on a fly. Arkansas Ozark area is the only place I've found that reliably has fly fishable carp water. Water clarity, and the bottom shape of most lakes in my area are not conducive to sight fishing carp (aside from golf course grassies). I've seen massive 20+lb carp in the clear lakes of Arkansas, but they are usually in deep water hanging around marinas. The ones that make it to the shallows are mostly in the 5-10lb avg except during spawing when all bets are off.

FishnDave said...

John....there's a reason why you are THE MAN when it comes to carp (and especially BIG carp) on a fly.
Add me to the list of 0%-ers.
I've caught some decent carp on flies, but I'm not sure I can even say I've SEEN a 20-pounder in my area.
You catch, we drool.

Miles said...

I think you have unnaturally long arms.

thefishingdj said...

It’s a rarity to get a carp over 20lbs in most of the waters I fish out here in Colorado, but I've been lucky to pick up 2 over 20lbs this year, both by accident! I picked up one on a giant circus peanut out of a weedline, and the other on a sparkle dad fishing for smallmouth! I guess sometimes you just get lucky!

Douglas Kretzmann said...

I know a good place.. with quite a few 20+ fish, but it is a deep old quarry, never see them feeding, only loafing in the sun.. haven't convinced any of those.

Two reservoirs have bigguns similarly, again typically they stay deep and are seldom seen. I got one at the end of spawning this year and lost one at my feet, last year in the fall. Counting both of those, that averages out to about 5%, from which it can be deduced I don't catch many fish ;-)

Unknown said...

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