Carp are kink for many anglers. These bottom feeding brutes are strong, big, and challenging. Whether you use Bank Sticks or a flyrod, carp help to create Monster Memories.
In Europe, Carpin’ is serious business. They use only the best gear and gadgets to hook-up with these elusive goldfish.
In America, we also seek out these trophy leviathans. They are also known as “Bugle Mouth Bass”, Freshwater Bonefish” and “Large-lipped Trout”.
“Carpsters” can be more or less sophisticated. As a kid, I remember using “Bank Sticks” baited with corn dough balls baited onto small #6 hooks. My Dad had a favorite old metal bed spring stashed on the bank that we used for holding our Carp Buster rod rigs.
We would chum corn and wait for the bite. Usually carp would slurp up the corn balls, feel the hook, and roar off. The fish usually hooked themselves.
Carp are common throughout most freshwater and estuary ecosystems. You can hunt these monsters from Montana to Maryland using the same tactics and gear.
20 pounders are common but they grow much larger. The biggest carp I have landed was caught using a recurve bow with a fish arrow. This is a cool way to survive hot summer days while wet wading, stalking, and tuning your archery skills.
Fly fishermen also love Carpin’. They use their long rods and unique fly creations in the quest for monster pigs. Like Bonefishing, it is important to accurately cast, stalk, and time your presentation. Wear camo clothing, move slowly, and cast smoothly. Think about your position to the sun and watch your shadow.
I have found that heavy lines, strike indicators, and weighted flies create too much splash and spook the carp. Try using a good quality fluorocarbon tippet which is stronger than the diameter may seem. These tippets tie clean knots and sink quickly, becoming nearly invisible. Use the lightest strength you can get away with.
Sharpen your hooks out of the box. Anticipate that the carp will make a huge run upon the hookset. Don’t burn your hands trying to slow the run. Let a good disc drag take care of that. Allow the rod to fully bend and prepare to move. Having 100 yards of backing is a good idea. You will need it often.
Dry fly fishing for carp is also fun. I use a yellow glo egg fly on a sharp #6-8 hook. A little Uncle Mike’s fish scent adds some smell and allows the fly to enticingly sink slowly. Use a good pair of polaroid glasses so you can see the take.
Hang on tight. A long handled boat net and forceps will help you handle these beasts if you plan on catch and release.
If you plan on eating your carp, ice the fish quickly. Soak your filets and rinse thoroughly. I have found that fresh carp is best since they don’t freeze well. I have known “Carpbusters” to smoke and plank their filets. Fish cakes made from carp and spiced with Old Bay seasoning are tasty as well. Fish chowders and soups are a perfect platform for this unique fish filet.
The only way to learn how to land BIG fish is to catch BIG fish. Carp are abundant, available, and willing teachers. If you can land a monster carp then big trout, bass, or whatever will be no problem. If BIG fish and action is your thing, then Carpin’ is the ticket. Enjoy the Carp Craze and take a kid fishing!