Friday evening I spent time on the vise creating offerings or gifts for the carp of Rock Creek. I like to think of them of gifts but perhaps they are truly Trojan Horses and in fairness to the carp, "Beware of the fly-fisher bearing gifts."
To me, carp are a gentle and peaceful sort. I have to admire them and how they have survived when so many other species haven't. For the most part they seem to be quite social creatures, often traveling in groups or as Charlie puts it... herds.
There are times a group or herd of them will come swimming by in their tailing fashion and it's almost if they are waving to the angler with their tails. Waving hello and good-bye and I think that's really cool to watch. It's kinda like, "Howdy-do Mr. Fly Fisher. So long chump."
Saturday around mid-morn I decided to visit the carp of Rock Creek to see if any of the sort wished for battle. Entering at the east side low water bridge, my target was for what I now call Charlie's Pasture. Charlie's Pasture is rich and fertile with carp and offers a number of challenges for the fly angler to overcome in hopes of meeting a carp. Wading downstream to the pasture proved to be a big mistake with countless gallon-bucket sized rocks slick with warming water algae.
Eventually the island at Charlie's Pasture was reached, and it was here last week the carp were staged just like trout would, but today... a single carp did not exist in this stretch. Going downstream just a bit I found the herds and split the soup to meet them.
I started with a plop cast or flip cast which was no longer than ten feet. It took a lot of casts but finally a carp turned it's head and sucked up the crawdad gift I'd brought.
After bringing this warrior to hand, I decided to stay on the island and try to make some long distance casts to the carpes. Back casting here was difficult with a solid tree and brush-line behind me. If only there was just five more foot of back-casting room...it would've been a perfect world... but there wasn't. I did hook up with another carp and this fellow was a steamboat. He would prove too much for my tippet tie. I hope he's still enjoying that crawdad pattern.
When the wind started riffling the water so much I could no longer see, it was time to move on and find somewhere with a windbreak. At the exit point... there was Charlie... trying to get geared up to go a-carpin'. However, Charlie had the cell phone glued to his ear and it seems that a guest was seeking lodging at the Sulphur Springs Inn... so Charlie did not get to fish. Before leaving though, he clued me in on another carp holding spot. I did check that spot and found one huge carp but spooked him right off the bat. Now, it was time for me to make the walk back to the Prairie Schooner.
Upon reaching the schooner I realized I wasn't quite done with the carp so upstream the call took me. Lost another crawdad pattern but this time to a twenty foot tall tree limb. Tied on my last crawdad pattern and decided to partner it with a San Juan Wormball. Gave that combo a cast and Holy Smoke a Sherman tank sized carp gobbled that wormball. Kept him on a good five minutes but then... another tippet tie break.
With only one San Juan Wormball left, and being half the size I'd been using, I tied it on and got two more opportunities at carp but missed both. Then a carp noticed my last crawdad pattern and this three pounder came to hand.
Of all the gifts I have brought to the carpes they seem to really like the wormball and currently I am tying up an arsenal of this pattern.
Other gifts they seem to like include the crawdad pattern tied in sizes 10 or larger, counter-weighted. And, the Backstabber pattern created by Jay Zimmerman also seems to be a favorite of the carpes.
Thus far in the carp crusades I find myself silly with excitement and wonderment. Perhaps I have grown to use to battling trout or maybe I've battled them for so many years it has become somewhat mundane. May the creator forgive me if this is indeed true. I will always love my Rainbows.
But carp are a huge challenge. First I believe they can see one hundred times better than most fish. Secondly, they have extra hearing capabilities and quite sensitive to motion or movement. Lastly... due to their gentle nature they don't slam a fly but rather gently suck it in which makes it extremely difficult to detect a take.
I think they are remarkable creatures.
Here are three things I've learned in fly fishing for carp.
1. Cloudy days are not good. Fish in the full sun when shadows are not an issue.
2. Be aware of what you wear and try to wear colors that blend in with the background.
3. When a carp takes notice of your fly, keep your eyes on his mouth. The carp will make a sucking gesture when he takes your fly and that's the time for a hook-set.