The Accidental Carp

I hooked my first carp the other day. Not on a fly, by the way, but simply on a little spoon I was casting into a local pond because I had nothing else to do. I could not have been paying less attention when it happened. I was visiting a girl that weekend in New Jersey, and she has a pond on her farm with some decent largemouth bass and sunfish. A few carp had been stocked in there to stop the algae from taking over the pond, kind of like big golden water sheep. Her family keeps some spinning rods in a shed by the pond and I picked up the one that was already rigged – just to throw a line around while we were chatting and drinking. Problem was, it only had about 60 feet of line on it.

Every time I cast, the spoon would sail through the air and then stop abruptly with a plunk as the line reached it’s end, in the same satisfying way a fly does when you’re spey casting well. I had to reel up the little bit of slack this created, but I kept doing it anyway.

I was leaning over to pick up my beer, still reeling in, when all of a sudden the spoon came to a halt and I saw the line start to slice water off to the right. It sounded a lot like someone removing saran wrap from the roll. “Holy shit that’s a carp!” yelled the girl. She’s pretty cool.

I pulled back hard on the rod and saw the carp porpoise next the aeration filter. I had about 8 feet of line left and could only watch helplessly as it tightened and the spoon pinged back to me on the dock. I probably should’ve jumped in after that fish or done something heroic/ Maclean-like, but I’ve already drowned 3 phones this season and frankly I just can’t afford to break another, even for the sake of my first carp.

Anyway, this whole experience got me thinking about fly fishing for carp. It’s something that I’ve been kind of avoiding for a while now, in the same way you might avoid a hardcore drug because you’re afraid you might like it. Some people rave about carp fishing. People who I take seriously. And I’m sure I would too (I’m a sucker for a tug), but I just never really bothered giving it a shot. I’d considered it a few times on a hot summer’s day, but always just opted to catch bass on a popper – something I’m familiar with. And what even is a carp fly anyway?

Turns out, carp flies are not that unlike other flies. In fact, carp are somewhat known for eating almost anything. The main difference is that most carp flies are tied upside down. Carp are primarily bottom feeders, so you have a much better chance of hooking one if the hook isn’t buried in the mud, but facing skywards at that big Mickey Mouse face.

I probably should have waited until I’d actually gone carp fishing before writing this article, and not just hooked one by accident. However, while my first encounter was definitely intriguing, I’m still not 100% convinced that this is a worthwhile pursuit. Let me hand you off to my good friend Joel Hathaway (that guy▼▼), who calls carp “The Intracontinental North American Bonefish”. A bit indulgent, don’t you think?

joel hathaway

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