Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Things I learned today

Big carp are tough. The plan today was to move quickly through the soft bottomed shallows, and focus on narrow gravel bars and deep edges. I was after big carp, and they just don't spend much time in places where they are easy to find. For a change...the plan worked pretty well. I skipped through the shallows mainly by being very picky about targets...I only cast at fish that were almost certain to eat. Once on the bars and edges I slowed my pace and lo and behold...big carp were tailing up and down the gravel. I got dozens of shots at fish in the mid teens but as already mentioned...big carp are tough! I couldn't get close to the fish because the cobble was so loud, and if I cast the fly close enough to get a take, the fish spooked...casting far enough away to avoid spooking the fish became a guessing game of which way the fish would turn. Most of the time, I guessed wrong. Carp don't get big by ignoring their surroundings, and you have to be on your game to fool them. Despite tons of chances, I only hooked one real monster (easy mid 20s...probably bigger) that promptly broke me off in a weed bed. I landed a handful of fish in the teens, but nothing huge.

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.


testflycarpin said...

Ny first big carp in MI came on that kind of retrieve. Havent gotten it to work since but I havent tried in a long long time and thought it was happenstance. Cool info, I will put it back in play!

n.taylor said...

Those fish are nice but sweeeetttttt mirror my man.

e.m.b. said...

Ah! A mirror! I have not yet learned that....but I believe! :)

Wendy Berrell said...

You got some to move. Good thing there. Sounds like you had a solid variety-pack day.

Still need to try that wake-u technique.

Ty said...

Right on. Great stuff. Gonna have to try that stripping technique. Been doing a little experimenting myself with different stripping cadences, but not getting many takes.