Photos by Danny Reed of Crooked Creek Holler
For all of you anglers who have yet to dabble into some carp fishing on the fly—this one’s for you. I’m telling you, it is so worth it. There are a TON of great places across the southeast where you can get into these crazy-fighting, awfully-ugly, bottom-feeding suckers. Folks also say that freshwater carp fishing can be a wonderful preparation for any saltwater bone fishing or other types of fishing where you’re continuously sight-casting to super spooky fish.
What sparked my carp-hunting adventure was an event held this past weekend that I had the pleasure of attending and competing in called the 3 Rivers Carp Cup held by 3 Rivers Angler in Knoxville, TN. This was the 4th annual Carp Cup and one of the most successful as far as fish caught, attendees and undeniably perfect weather.
This was my first time ever fishing for carp so I was lucky enough to land a spot on a team with two experienced carp fishermen and good friends of mine; Danny Reed of Crooked Creek Holler and Tim Stephens the King of PBR. Without these two, I would have literally done everything wrong. From trout setting to quick stripping, none of this is allowed when fishing for carp.
Some of the tips they enlightened me with were:
1. Dead drifting. Carp aren’t going to chase a fly down and if you don’t get in right in front of them, you’ve got no chance.
2. Do NOT let the carp see you before you see it, otherwise sayonara sucka!
3. If you’re going to miss, miss short- otherwise, again, these spooky fish are outta there.
4. You always need to have fried chicken on the boat, it’s a serious juju situation and if the juju is off, the universe will not allow you to catch a fish.
5. Carp have a very subtle eat, so “sets are free” was one of our boat mottos and we stuck to it. If you feel anything, SET. (I personally set on 3 trees, 10 grass patches, 2 logs, and 3 rocks and I somehow managed to lose only one fly. Pretty dang good if you ask me.)
All in all we had a really good day and hooked into a bunch of fish from blue gill, to a baby striper hybrid, at least a dozen smallies, and last but not least one beautifully ugly carp.
I’ve now fished for and to over a dozen species and I’d say the carp could definitely give a false albacore a run for its money on who fights harder. This fish did not want to give up and did everything it could from wrapping the oars to nose diving under the boat and running a good 40 yards with an epic bend in the 8wt before I finally managed to tire him out and with the help of my teammates land my very first carp on the fly!
It was a truly epic experience and for all anglers who are questioning whether this weekend’s road trip to target carp on the fly is worth it, I’m again reinforcing the fact that it is absolutely, undeniably, enthusiastically SO worth it. I’m insisting that you go and give it a try. You will not be disappointed.