There is a formula for stalking carp that became abundantly clear today, it may not apply in all situations or all places where carp are present but for me it seems to hold true. The speed at which you move should reflect a combination of the amount of direct sunlight available and the turbidity of the water you are fishing. The other two variables that factor into this equation are wind and depth. Depending on the turbidity level the wind can help or hurt you. Clear water and the wind is your savior, turbid and it can be the nail in your coffin. The skies were filled with fast moving clouds today and I stopped by the first spot which has recently proven to be about as reliable as this game gets around here. I’ve usually been able to find approachable fish if not fish that are mowing down just begging for a fly.
I showed up to find two other guys fishing, they were hiking the banks and casting for other specie, this limited my options immediately. I observed their movements as I got my gear situated and hoped they would avoid two areas. Fortunately the summer heat is bringing things like thistles and burning nettles up, most wearing shorts and flip-flops are not willing to endure the things I will to find fish. I hiked to one spot and saw one lone fish head down, tail up. I put my trouserworm on it and watched it roundly snub my fly and hard spook to the deep. I looked around for a bit but quickly moved to the other and spotted feeding carp almost immediately. I hung in the reeds watching for a minute before picking my target not noticing what was hanging to my right. Something happened, not sure if it was my cast or just general movement but the target stopped feeding and slowly swam away from me to the deeper water. I could see maybe a dozen carp hanging near the surface a ways out so I hung around hoping one would move in. It was about this time that I noticed the fish hanging in the clearest water around. I could see the entire fish, it wasn’t eating or cruising, it was just sitting there. I had to slowly move to position myself. I dapped my fly near the face and it promptly turned and mowed that fly. I love seeing the take. This fish put up a fight and I got to use the scale I’ll never fish without. 12.3lbs with the weight of the net accounted for.
I fought that fish trying to pull it away from the dozen or so that I knew were further out trying not to cause a bunch of chaos and thus spooking every other viable candidate. After the release I moved around to a spot I haven’t stood before, waded as slow as possible through two feet of muck and on the other side I found myself standing within ten feet of probably 6-8 carp all round the 10lb mark. None were eating heavy, they were just hanging and slowly treading water. I decided to hang tight and see if anyone larger would swim through. I knew hooking any one of the fish around me would be tantamount to tossing a grenade in the water thus blowing up all my other opportunities so if I was going to do that I wanted it to be for the best fish possible. I hung for a good fifteen to twenty minutes with no luck. I figured I would back out and come back later. No fish around anywhere else so I went back, took a shot at the largest one hanging and promptly blew the spot up.
I had plenty of time and light to work with so I drove to a second spot, hiked and hiked but only saw three carp two of which were the size of small bass and one I caught the tail of before it swam off not to be seen again. This water was much clearer than the previous and it requires a more subtle approach both from the stalk and the cast. With nothing around I decided to use what time I had left to try and search out a few other places. The first was a bust but just like hiking a trout stream until you go and hike it you just don’t know. Second spot looked like chocolate milk, it was the most turbid water I’ve seen to date fishing for carp and yet within minutes I could tell I was onto something. I didn’t actually see any fish but I knew they were seeing me, silt plooms cause by fish kicking off the shore. Carp are here. Took a few minutes of super slow stalking and waiting until the best sun was available before I moved but once I figured they were I was spotting plenty of them. I ended up sneaking around and wading out to a small island, from there I looked around and realized I was standing in the middle of maybe twenty or more feeding carp. I could see a few tails but for the most part it was all shadows, no discerning the face from the tail.
I made a few attempts at dapping the fly on a few but not knowing the depth due to the turbidity made things challenging. I spooked a few and then I decided that I wanted one fish further out, maybe thirty feet. The wind was up a bit, I’d have to make the cast and drag the fly over her face and then anticipate the depth. Which end is the face? 50/50 shot I guess. Difficulty rating here 6-7/10? Maybe higher. I let the fly sink and after six count I set the hook and the fish took off. Right in the mouth, excellent. These seemed to be smaller fish but hard fighters. The conditions were great practice and after the first a couple more came in. I will say that when you’re casting at shadows and setting the hook blind you come up with a few snagged fish, you try not to do it and for the most part they get off when they aren’t fair hooked but I had one that stayed on. 13lbs on the scale and when that fish took off and ran me half across the water it looked like an explosion of scattered carp. This signaled the end of the day, light was waning and I had to get. Stoked to search water and find willing fish.