Friday, August 23, 2013


Like most fly fishermen on the east coast, I eagerly awaited Brood II of the magicicadas. I dreamed of trout and carp feasting upon hapless cicadas floating in rivers and ponds. As we all know, they ended up being a major disappointment and not many people ventured out to find trout or carp to catch on size 4 dry flies.  I was lucky enough to find some phenomenal trout fishing but was left disheartened with the lack of carp action. I decided to take matters into my own hands and thus, have a confession to make.

I totally cheated.

At a local pond, the mulberry hatch coincided with the magicicadas. Carp were actively devouring semi-ripe and ripe mulberries falling into the water. When I arrived, I found a dead cicada next to the water and thought, what the heck? Let's give it a go. My size 4, black magicicada was devoured on cast after cast. The problem was, that the carp were too small to properly suck it off the surface. I fully took advantage of their gluttony and utter lack of selective feeding to catch one on a cicada. I apologize for my wrong doing. Seventeen years from now, maybe I can make up for my injustice. I fully and sincerely apologize.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Go For the Trout, Stay For the Carp

I met my buddy Dan a few hours north at the Hale Eddy put in on the West Branch of the Delaware River early one morning. He was already fishing, tossing a dry dropper into one of the more pressured riffles on the entire system. I watched from atop the bridge before my eyes noticed the show unfolding downstream. A thick morning fog enveloped the river, a product of 48 degree water combining with the warmer summer air. As the morning progressed and the sun began to rise in the sky, it slowly broke the fog's grip making for an awesome sequence. I was able to capture the moment in several shots, even through the dew dripped view of a spider's web. As the sky brightened, our true purpose revealed itself. We were there to float and hopefully pick up a few trout on dry flies. The notoriously moody fish and insects of the Delaware failed to rise with any consistency during our sunny floats. This prompted me to change my strategy a little bit.

As Dan and I drifted towards an island and a side channel, my Diablo Chupacabra drifted over a calm flat with a bottom of sediment. I was startled to see a vertically feeding carp that promptly spooked from my presence. After fishing the side channel for an extended time, I paddled up river and anchored over  the flat. There were more than one carp to be seen. I waited for a break in the wind and cloud cover to get my shot. I tied on a brown carp crab and struggled to get a good presentation without any rock snot or drifting algae ruining my fly. I finally got a good one on the bottom two yards in front of a prowling common and gave a short strip. The carp broke from his original line just as the clouds came into view. No longer able to see my fly, I read the carp's body language, saw him pause, and could barely make out the protrusion of his more lightly covered vacuum as it sucked in my fly. Game on.

My six weight Cross S1 switch rod was perfectly matched to subdue the weight of a carp in the mid to high teens. The Multi reel did the rest, subduing two long runs towards structure. The 3x held, I unanchored my SUP, and drifted toward the island. My intention was to beach the fish but a surprise was in store for me. I was backing up to force the carp into shallow water when I backed up too far. I fell off one of those notoriously high meadow Delaware banks into the river. I emerged laughing my ass off to find the humped-backed carp beached in a few inches of water. I took a few shots and sent her on her way.

Later on down river, I cruised by a nice pool and discovered some trout hanging out by those grassy banks. I paddled back upriver and tried anchoring in position. After a few tries, I successfully anchored in position and was able to spot a large trout chilling on the bottom. I threw everything I had at him for about half an hour. He moved for a size 22 flashback pheasant tail but didn't take. I eventually tied on a wiggle ISO nymph and got a strong initial reaction. The next cast, I put a huge mend in the line and swung the fly up as it crossed in front of him. Fish on. It was a chunky brown about 18 inches. Looked like a stocked holdover, but I was pleased. Later, Dan and I got a few fish on top and a some below.

After Dan left, I was actually driving home before I pulled a U-turn. I found carp and they were green. Too hard to pass up. I re-launched my kayak solo, and caught two carp in rapid succession, both on the carp crab while performing mudding headstands. I anchored and went to shore to do some stalking. That's when another fly fishermen took notice. He asked me about the 12 lb. rainbow trout I just caught. I told him it was actually a carp. He replied, that his goal of the year was to catch a carp on fly. We talked tactics, situations, and flies for about 20 minutes. I gave him a damsel and my best producing egg for a pond by his house. We then talked about fishing for river carp when a good one meandered into view. I gave him a play by play of my every move. I casted the crab out, did a drag and drop. Gave a good strip and watched the carp's body language change. He took it.

College Kid- "that was the coolest thing I have ever seen"

Me- "yea...that was awesome"

I offered to let him fight the fish, but he refused like a normal fishermen would. I talked him through the fight as I absolutely horsed a good carp on the Cross S1 5 weight. We talked about how much stress I could put on 3, 4, and 5x and for certain situations. He helped me land it and even took a picture. We talked some more before I headed home. Another carp convert successfully in the bag. I traveled to the Upper Delaware for its amazing trout fishery but ended up turning back for its small carp fishing.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

SUP Carp

My brother Matt was married on a Friday evening in the Poconos to his ultimate catch, Stacy. The wedding party spent the weekend at a lake house nearby and word on the street was that there were hordes of carp inhabiting the waterway. Needless to say, but along with my wedding attire I packed a truck load of fishing equipment and my Diablo Paddlesports Chupacabra SUP Yak to do some skinny water carping on Saturday and Sunday. At the lake house was a Native two-person kayak and a very large canoe for our use as well. While the wedding party was enjoying the weekend festivities, Adam and I fished the lake for its carp. 

Fly fishing via a stand up paddle board or kayak is quickly becoming a very popular activity, and for good reason. Traditional boats and kayaks just can't compete, especially when it comes to fly fishing for carp. The best places to fly fish for carp are in clear, shallow water anywhere from a few inches deep to a few feet deep. This is where we most often ply our trade. Paddleboards offer the opportunity to stealthily sneak up on fish in some very shallow water. SUPs float (fully loaded) in a few inches of water which allows anglers to get very close. On this particular pond, the shoreline was lined with weeds and lily pads, making it almost impossible for a fly angler to target carp all day long. The SUP was the only way to go. 

When fly fishing for carp off of a SUP it is important to pay attention to some key variables. The most important are the sun and wind. I like to position myself off of points near land, structure, or weeds with the sun and wind at my back. This provides a more clear field of vision for the angler while distorting the view of a passing carp. It will also cut down on errant casts. Your position should also be near some carp thoroughfare. Hopefully, fish are mudding in the general vicinity or on a slow prowl from one area of another. In these types of situations, you are stationary and the fish will eventually come to you. Perfect for targeting carp off of a SUP. 

While atop a kayak or SUP, you need to be very cautious of transmitting noise or vibrations. The hulls of kayaks and SUPs will easily transmit vibrations throughout the water column. Carp more than any other gamefish rely on their senses to detect predators and prey. An errant movement of feet, a bad placement of an oar/paddle, or a clanking of an anchor will put down every carp in the vicinity. Also, use extreme caution while going from a standing to sitting position, or vice versa. 

Our worst problem of the weekend was structure. Lily pads encompassed a large area of where the best shallow water carping was. There was also a lot of wood and debris to contend with. Over the course of the weekend we only brought 5 carp to hand while we lost an uncountable number to structure. Both of us lost some large carp and even a lot of small ones. Once hooked, the fish immediately made a bee line to the pads where they zig zagged like a downhill skier going through a slalom course. We were left to unwrap our carp presents hoping that some gold would still be on the end of the line. More often than not, we were either broken off or entangled in the aquatic vegetation.

Nonetheless, we made the best of the situation and had a great time. 

Positioned and waiting...

Attracting attention...

Lily-pad fields...

Slowly working them out of the pads...

Coming up empty handed...

A reoccurring theme...

Cross S1 796 and 690 are carp butter sticks...