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Thread: 21st Century Super-fish!!

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    Default 21st Century Super-fish!!

    BY DAVE WHITLOCK

    Let's create a super-fish for fly fishing in the 21st Century. It should be smart, selective, strong, fast, almost indestructible, and plentiful in cold, cool, warm, and tropical waters from coast to coast and border to border. This super-fish should never need stocking, must coexist peacefully with other gamefish, feed on flies from top to bottom, and be as colorful as a Snake River cutthroat. Such a mysterious wonder-fish would be as valuable as gold, so we should call it something special; how about the "Golden Ghost?"

    What fish could we cross to develop such a magnificent super-hybrid? How about first crossing a bonefish with a permit for speed, strength, wariness, selectivity, and prestige? For durability, let's cross this "per-bone" with a redfish and a cutthroat for brilliant color, ability to live in warm or cold waters, and a distinct willingness to feed from top to bottom on flies that imitate almost every conceivable natural food.

    There's still one more ability that this wonderful fish needs to posses: the ability to survive man's pollution. Resistance to acid rain, PCBs, heavy metals, siltation, and oxygen depletion, as well as disease and parasites, would be a distinct advantage. It looks like we'd have to find a stainless-steel fish for the final hybridization. The crazy twist to this fantasy fish idea is that nature has already evolved it for us, and it has lived in the United States for well over 100 years. It's been in Europe and in its native Asia much longer. This incredible fish is the carp, and I'm coming out of the closet to tell you that I've been quietly fly fishing for this "golden ghost" for over 50 years.

    In fact, since I declared myself a carp fly fisher about four years ago, I've been amazed and pleased at how many people have told me about accidental and planned encounters with carp as they fished lakes and streams across North America and Europe. The first carp I caught on a fly hit a #10 black-and-yellow bream fly I was using on Taft Lake in Oklahoma on June 1, 1946. It fought so hard and so long that it put a permanent bow in my first fly rod, a well-used, 9-foot, 3-piece bamboo that my dad had bought in a pawn shop.

    I never forgave that rod-warping carp, not only because it bent my rod, but because I thought I had a 10-pound bass and it turned out to be a meager 4-pound, golden-sided, "bugle-mouth bass." Even back then, I was ashamed to tell my folks that I'd caught a lowly carp, because I thought they might laugh.

    The fact is that fly fishers since the beginning have been fooled by carp into thinking they have hooked a world-record brown trout, walleye, salmon, or smallmouth bass, only to have their elation sink into shame and embarrassment when their "record fish" rolled to the surface to reveal the golden-laced, checkerboard side of a carp.

    Over the years, I've gradually become more interested in these remarkable fish. Encounters with them have always been challenging and surprising, like my first hookups on surface flies in the spring of 1957.

    While spring squirrel hunting from my canoe along Bayou Creek in Oklahoma, I noticed large fish swirling under overhanging mulberry trees as feeding squirrels and birds dropped the berries into the water. The next weekend I returned with my fly rod and a purple deer-hair mulberry fly I had tied, and I hooked carp from two to nine pounds, right at the surface!


    Carp can grow to extremely large sizes in a wide range of conditions. From golf course ponds to the Great Lakes, carp are readily available to anglers across this continent as well as in Europe and Asia. Tackle requirements depend on the size of the carp you are after, and the size of flies you're likely to be using.

    Any fish is fun to catch on a fly rod, but when a big carp takes a fly, it's more fun than any other freshwater fish. Why? Carp are more like the elite saltwater flats fish--bonefish, permit, redfish, and cubara snapper. They are faster than a trout, stronger than a permit, and have more staying power than a smallmouth bass. After all my years of searching, four years ago I discovered a paradise of carp fishing, and I can't keep quiet any longer.

    I have been fortunate to fly fish some of the world's best fisheries, but I rank the trips I've taken for the last four summers to the limestone flats of Lake Michigan, fly fishing for tailing "golden ghosts," high on my top-ten list.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The carp may be our smartest, and most challenging freshwater gamefish.
    Last edited by Chris Shelton; 11-12-07 at 04:45 AM.
    "Innocence is a wild trout. But we humans, being complicated, have to pursue innocence in complex ways" - Datus Proper

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    "After all my years of searching, four years ago I discovered a paradise of carp fishing, and I can't keep quiet any longer."

    Amen Dave, having recently discovered the same, I can fully relate! My eyes have been opened and I'm seeing the light and I couldnt agree with you more!
    "Innocence is a wild trout. But we humans, being complicated, have to pursue innocence in complex ways" - Datus Proper

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    Carp on the fly
    by Steve Bechard – Oct 31, 2000

    I've spent the majority of my life, living on a lake in central New York, not knowing that what is now one of my favorite freshwater fish to catch on a fly rod, was just steps out my back door. The fish is the common carp. It was a couple of summers ago, I started to notice several articles and even books on fly fishing for carp. I decided that I had to try it.

    I waded into the lake and noticed carp were everywhere and for about two hours, I tried everything in my box. Finally, one took a size 10 damsel fly nymph. the carp took me well into my backing and made a couple smaller but impressive runs before I landed it. I now can say that I caught as many carp that summer as I did trout.

    Fly fishing for carp is similar to bonefishing. The carp are spooky and extremely hard to convince into taking a fly. They are strong, fast and make long runs for deeper water when hooked.

    Carp will cruise the shallows looking for insects, crustaceans and crayfish. They especially like weedy areas; however, this makes it rather hard to present a fly to them. One thing I try to find is channels or areas that have changing depths. The carp seem to be more comfortable and easier to catch when deeper water is near. My favorite spot on the lake I live on is where several people had dug out areas for their boats. Carp seem to always be crusing in and out.

    I tend to start fly fishing for carp in the end of May to early june. The carp will be spawning and splashing everywhere. When this happens I have found that they almost never take. Look for single fish at this time. They seem not interested in the spawning activities and like to see a well presented fly.

    An hour or so after the spawn, carp tend to feed better. It is then that I see the tailing or mucking in the soft sand. This is a great time to target them. Look for tails out of the water and fish moving slow in an upright position. These are feeding fish. Also look for muddy areas where they stir up the sand seeking out food.

    I have three favorite flies. The damsel fly nymph, woolly buggers and crayfish patterns. These are easy patterns to tie and represent food that carp see and feed on everyday. All of these patterns are tied with bead chain or lead eyes. This gives me the opportunity to fish different depths, and the hook point is upright so it won't snag on rocks. Also, a carps' mouth is on the bottom. With the hook point downwards it will not always stick. I tie the flies with marabou to suggest natural movement and all the flies are either black, brown or olive.

    My presentation is simple. I use a ten to sixteen foot leader and try to lead the fish depending on how fast it is moving, how deep the water is and how frequently it is feeding. Timing is important. Putting the fly in the carps' path means you have to cast beyonf the apparent path and strip the fly (slow short strips) without spooking it. Normally, you see most of the strikes, but just like bonefishing you must wait until you feel the fish before you set the hook. Do not use a trout set. By strip setting, you will greatly increase your chances of hooking up.

    Rod weights vary. I prefer to use a 6-9 wt. rod, depending on the size and weight of the carp. Tippet strength will vary from 8-12 lb. flourocarbon. Make sure you have plenty of backing and a good drag system. You can get carp that will occasionally take a run of close to 100 yds.

    If you have not tried carp on the fly, give these fish a shot. I can't tell you how many trout fishermen I have turned on to these fish. Carp are a great alternative, especially during the dog days of summer when trout waters are low and warm. Carp are a true challenge.

    Steve Bechard grew up fly fishing the many rivers, streams and lakes in New York's, Adirondack mountains. He spends the majority of his time chasing landlock atlantic salmon and brook trout in remote mountain streams. During the Winter, you can find him on the tributary waters to Lake Ontario fighting steelies and during early Spring, fighting bone fish in the Bahama's. Needless to say, you can also find him in his backyard fly fishing for carp. Steve also works part time for Rising Trout Outfitters in New York Mills, NY. If you would like more information about how to tackle these fish or any others in the Adirondacks, you can e-mail the author steveb@flyfishingconnection.com
    Last edited by Chris Shelton; 12-12-07 at 02:43 AM.
    "Innocence is a wild trout. But we humans, being complicated, have to pursue innocence in complex ways" - Datus Proper

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    Fly fishing For Carp
    By Tom Connor

    A lot of people who fly fish in warm waters have had the experience of accidentally catching a carp. But few try to accomplish this deliberately. For those few, this brief guide should be helpful. Hopefully you will also experiment and share with others your successes and failures.
    1. General Techniques

    Basically there are only two ways to fly fish for carp -- sight casting and blind casting. Sight casting involves seeing carp in the water and casting the fly to about 1 or 2 feet in front of them. While this is not always possible, it often is and provides some of the most exciting carp fishing. An analogy is often drawn to fishing for bonefish and the analogy is quite accurate. Like bonefish, carp can often be seen tailing in the shallows. Like bonefish, carp are eating whatever organisms they find on or scare up from the bottom. And like bonefish, when they take your fly expect a long hard run that may take you "into your backing".

    Blind casting can take two forms. You can cast to places carp are likely to be and hope you are right. This is usually not a high percentage technique. More reliable is to cast to where you know carp are because you have tossed groundbait in that area. The groundbait not only attracts the carp and concentrates them in a relatively small area but it also gets them into a feeding mood, maybe even a competitive feeding mood. People who bait fish for carp know a great deal about groundbaiting and I suggest you consult some of their published information. In particular I recommend Modern Bank Fishing by Michael Keyes.

    2. A Puff of Silt

    Gary LaFontaine reports watching trout in the shallows of a mountain lake. They would cruise along and suddenly change direction to begin rooting on the bottom and another leech would become trout fodder. It took him a while to discover how the trout knew where to root. It was a small puff of silt stirred up when the leech moved. He used this information to design the Bristle Leech -- a leech imitation that sits on the bottom but creates a puff of silt when retrieved. The Bristle Leech catches not only trout but also carp and the mechanism that triggers a strike in both fish would seem to be the same.

    Bonefish anglers know that bonefish also look for puffs -- shrimp, crabs, and the like moving along the bottom of mud flats and creating a small cloud with each jerky move. A common technique is to cast in front of a bonefish, allow the fly to sink to settle to the bottom, and then give about a short pull on the flyline. The fly rises up off the bottom and creates the puff of silt. A bonefish, even some distance away, can see the puff and rush over for a meal (your fly).

    My experience with carp is that they respond just like the trout and bonefish. As they cruise along the bottom vacuuming up what they find, they are also watching for fleeing prey. Perhaps it's a crayfish scurrying out of the way or a leech or a mayfly nymph. But carp will see their puff of silt and charge after them. I saw this graphically demonstrated one day when I was fly fishing for bluegill off the end of my dock. My fly was an olive nymph with bead chain eyes. It resembles both a crayfish and a dragonfly nymph. I looked on the bottom about 6 or 7 yards out from the dock and there was a carp, just sitting there facing me and gently finning. I cast the nymph about 4 or 5 feet in front of him. As it sank he paused, and, I assume, watched the fly drop to the bottom. But he made no move until I gave the fly a twitch, creating that little puff. The carp took the fly in a flash, and, realizing its mistake took off for parts unknown. Unfortunately I was using a light rod and tippet and had no hope of controlling the fish. It broke off in short order. I have since caught lots of carp (and one catfish!) using just the following techniques: choosing a fly that sinks to the bottom hook point up and stirs the mud or silt when twitched; either sight casting to carp in the shallows or blind casting to an area where I have groundbaited; and using very slow, short retrieves with long pauses in between.
    Last edited by Chris Shelton; 12-12-07 at 02:42 AM.
    "Innocence is a wild trout. But we humans, being complicated, have to pursue innocence in complex ways" - Datus Proper

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    Fly fishing For Carp (continued)
    By Tom Connor

    3. Carp Flies

    Your best chance of catching a carp on a fly comes from choosing a fly that imitates a food that the carp recognizes. These fall into three broad categories. The first is aquatic creatures. These include larval and pupal stages of aquatic insects (mayflies, dragonflies, and damselflies), small aquatic organisms (leeches, worms, scuds, and immature crayfish) and small baitfish (e.g., sculpins). The second is plant material. This includes the fluffy seeds of the cottonwood tree and mulberries. The third is introduced food -- food that humans toss into the water that carp learn to eat. This includes corn, dogfood, and bread. There are flies that imitate all of these items and in the right circumstance you can expect most of them to be successful.

    Flies can be impressionistic or realistic in their imitation of carp food. Carp will take impressionistic flies but they are often less likely to do so than other fish. For example, there is a large mayfly that is common in most lakes and streams in Michigan -- the hexagenia limbata or "hex". Its nymph is a major food source for many fish, including carp. One of the flies often used to imitate the hex nymph is a Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear (GRHE) in larger sizes. It impressionistically resembles a hex nymph, just as it resembles many other nymphs. Trout seem to find that good enough and you can catch a lot of trout using that nymph. It is almost always on lists of essential flies for trout fishing. But consider the experience of an aquaintance of mine fishing in Michigan's Grand River. He spotted a group of tailing carp and assumed that they were eating nymphs (among other things) that they were rooting up from the bottom. He tied on a GRHE and cast perfectly just in front of one of the group. The carp all ignored the fly and went on about their business. They also ignored successive casts. Then he tied on a different, more realistic imitation of the hex nymph with feathery gills, black eyes, darker back and lighter bottom and more distinct legs and tail. A carp took the fly before it reached the bottom on the first cast. If you have a choice, choose flies that accurately imitate carp food.

    Carp are very sensitive to taste and smell. Before you use a fly for the first time rub it with mud or algae from the bank or bottom of the river or lake. The mud will come off after the first cast but your fly will have a "natural" taste and smell that will help mask your own odor and keep the fly in the carp's mouth a little longer before it tries to spit it out. Or, add a bit of commercial scent to your fly.

    4.1 Nymphs

    Nymphing for carp is essentially similar to nymphing for trout. There are a number of good books that go into it in great detail. I personally like Nymph Fishing by Dave Hughes. The gist of most of these accounts is:

    Be sure the nymph is on or near the bottom. Use weight, if necessary, in the form of small split shots about 6" above the fly. Use several small split shots rather than one large one.
    The nymph should move "naturally." On a stream this means drifting along the bottom at the same speed as the current with no "drag." Drag is unwanted motion imparted to the fly by the fly line. On a lake this may mean moving the nymph hardly at all except in very small twitches.
    Use a strike indicator.
    I agree with all of these recommendations except the use of a strike indicator. They are useful for depth control and bite detection but they tend to spook carp, especially if you are sight casting.
    If possible, find out what kind of nymphs are present in the water you are fishing. Turn over rocks. Collect some mud from the bottom and seine it. Inspect pieces of vegetation or run a net through the vegetation. Use whatever you find as a guide to fly selection.

    Dragon Fly Nymph Flies that resemble the nymphs of dragon flies or damsel flies are good for lake settings. They should be weighted and are fished on or near the bottom. Use short strips and long pauses. My own simple version of a dragon fly nymph can be seen by clicking on the name. The only disadvantage of this fly is that it will also catch bluegill and bass and other species as well. If you groundbait with sweetcorn (rather than particles or the like) and fish the nymph through the groundbait area you will definitely catch other kinds of fish. I even hooked a bullhead once. One major advantage of my version of the fly is that it rides upside down and will not snag on the bottom as easily.

    All Round Hex Nymph. My version of the hexagenia limbata nymph. It is realistic enough but not overly detailed. It generally rides hook point up (a definite advantage) and it looks the same no matter which way it turns or tumbles (hence the name). In lake settings I cast it beyond a groundbait area, let it sink, and slowly retrieve it through the area in very small jerks. If there is current or wind let them move the line and add tiny jerks as the nymph moves along the bottom. If possible keep slack out of the line and point the rod tip at the nymph. In river settings cast it above where carp are and let it dead drift down to them.

    4.2 Scuds

    Scuds are small freshwater shrimp-like creatures that cling to vegetation and swim around in small, jerky, erratic motions. When alive they are typically tan, olive, or brown in color. Most standard scud flies in those colors will work fine. Fish them like a nymph but with very small movements of no more than 1". When scuds die they often change color, becoming bright orange or yellow or pink. A scud imitation tied in those colors will sometimes work as well. This probably accounts for some of the success reported with flies like Agent Orange (a bright orange saltwater shrimp fly) or flies that are largely orange or yellow or pink chenille wrapped around a hook.

    Generic Scud A general purpose scud pattern that can be modified to serve most needs.

    Rollover Scud A scud pattern designed by Gary LaFontaine that rides hook point up and rolls over in an enticing way when retrieved.

    4.3 Leeches

    There are many leech patterns and most can be used with success. But the best for carp, I believe, is Gary LaFontaine's Bristle Leech mentioned previously. Not only does it sit on the bottom hook point up but it has two monofilament projections that dig into the bottom to produce the puff of silt when the fly is retrieved. Click on the name for tying instructions.

    4.4 Worms

    Gold Bead Red WigglerVariation on the San Juan worm. Fish like a nymph.

    Rollover Worm A variation of the San Juan worm that incorporates the properties of the rollover scud (see above). As the rollover worm sinks the hook rides up, but as soon as the fly is retrieved it flips over. This gives the impression of a worm struggling and wiggling in the water.

    4.5 Baitfish

    Carp Booby Booby flies are known for catching trout in lakes and ponds. They are floating flies which probably imitate baitfish and are made to hover near the bottom of the lake by a sinking fly line and split shots above the fly. This is one of the more successful patterns for blind casting over ground bait. I use an intermediate sinking line and a short leader (about three feet) of 2X fluorocarbon. I don't usually need any additional weight. Cast the booby out beyond the groundbait area and let the line sink to the bottom bringing the fly with it. Let everything just sit there for a while. The fly will float and move as small currents in the lake dictate. If nothing bites after three to five minutes begin retrieving the fly through the groundbait area. Do so VERY slowly. Use one inch strips and pause often. A carp is most likely to take the fly after a strip following a pause so do at least two strips in a row before pausing again. The second strip will set the hook. Click on the name for tying instructions.

    4.6 Plant Material and Introduced Food

    While carp typically find their food on or near the bottom they do surface feed at times. Usually that takes place because they have to learned to eat something that falls into the water and floats (like mullberries or cottonwood seeds) or something that floats that people toss into the water like pieces of bread or dog food kibbles. Fairly typical is my brother-in-law who has a house on Lake LBJ in Texas. He goes out on his lighted dock in the evening and tosses handfuls of kibbles into the water. The carp, who apparently spend most of their time under the dock, swim about and snatch the kibbles off the surface with a rolling motion. A dogfood fly can be tied by spinning normal deer hair and trimming to the shape of a kibble. If carp surface feed on poplar seeds, tie a fly using any sparse, fluffy white material such as yarn. Bread flies can be constructed of white and brown egg fly yarn or pom pom balls from the craft store.

    Corn FlyMy own design of an artificial hair rig sponge fly that has been succesful in blind casting over groundbait. For fishing and tying instructions click on the name.

    Purple Mulberry Fly Fly for carp in waters which have overhanging mullberry trees. Fish it in the surface film simulating a mulberry that has fallen off an overhanging branch. Pattern comes from Ben Benoit.

    5 Fly Fishing at Night Carp are often active at night. You can still fly fish for them.
    Last edited by Chris Shelton; 12-12-07 at 02:43 AM.
    "Innocence is a wild trout. But we humans, being complicated, have to pursue innocence in complex ways" - Datus Proper

  6. #6
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    A Puff of Silt

    Gary LaFontaine reports watching trout in the shallows of a mountain lake. They would cruise along and suddenly change direction to begin rooting on the bottom and another leech would become trout fodder. It took him a while to discover how the trout knew where to root. It was a small puff of silt stirred up when the leech moved. He used this information to design the Bristle Leech -- a leech imitation that sits on the bottom but creates a puff of silt when retrieved. The Bristle Leech catches not only trout but also carp and the mechanism that triggers a strike in both fish would seem to be the same.

    Bonefish anglers know that bonefish also look for puffs -- shrimp, crabs, and the like moving along the bottom of mud flats and creating a small cloud with each jerky move. A common technique is to cast in front of a bonefish, allow the fly to sink to settle to the bottom, and then give about a short pull on the flyline. The fly rises up off the bottom and creates the puff of silt. A bonefish, even some distance away, can see the puff and rush over for a meal (your fly).

    My experience with carp is that they respond just like the trout and bonefish. As they cruise along the bottom vacuuming up what they find, they are also watching for fleeing prey. Perhaps it's a crayfish scurrying out of the way or a leech or a mayfly nymph. But carp will see their puff of silt and charge after them. I saw this graphically demonstrated one day when I was fly fishing for bluegill off the end of my dock. My fly was an olive nymph with bead chain eyes. It resembles both a crayfish and a dragonfly nymph. I looked on the bottom about 6 or 7 yards out from the dock and there was a carp, just sitting there facing me and gently finning. I cast the nymph about 4 or 5 feet in front of him. As it sank he paused, and, I assume, watched the fly drop to the bottom. But he made no move until I gave the fly a twitch, creating that little puff. The carp took the fly in a flash, and, realizing its mistake took off for parts unknown. Unfortunately I was using a light rod and tippet and had no hope of controlling the fish. It broke off in short order. I have since caught lots of carp (and one catfish!) using just the following techniques: choosing a fly that sinks to the bottom hook point up and stirs the mud or silt when twitched; either sight casting to carp in the shallows or blind casting to an area where I have groundbaited; and using very slow, short retrieves with long pauses in between.


    Now this is something I have never given much thought, but it sure makes a lot of sense
    "Innocence is a wild trout. But we humans, being complicated, have to pursue innocence in complex ways" - Datus Proper

  7. #7
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    ok, I can't take much more of this....I'm going fishing.......see you guys later
    "Innocence is a wild trout. But we humans, being complicated, have to pursue innocence in complex ways" - Datus Proper

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    Come on - would he really have written this if he'd ever have fished for yellows? We have the best fly fishing in the world right on our doorstep.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Shelton View Post
    ok, I can't take much more of this....I'm going fishing.......see you guys later
    There is a CPS member and his brother who every year go to Bloemhof Dam for a week or so, with the sole purpose of stalking carp on the flats.
    Bloemhof dam has a huge exspanse of flat shallow water.
    Here the carp cruise looking for food, just like a bonefish would.
    They wade thru these huge flat pieces of water and have all the fun in the world, catching carp.


    I have a theory about carp that they will run until they feel safe.
    Try it, once you have hooked a carp, give him absolutely free running.
    They don't run far, if there is no drag/ pressure on the line.

  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by muddler View Post
    Come on - would he really have written this if he'd ever have fished for yellows? We have the best fly fishing in the world right on our doorstep.
    Ja-Nee, Alaska se moer
    Mario Geldenhuys
    Smallstream fanatic, plus I do some other things that I can't tell you about

    "All the tips or magical insights in the world can't replace devotion, dedication, commitment, and gumption - and there is not secret in that" - Glenn Brackett

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