Carpin'

When the river season ends where I live, it's often a bit a brain muncher to figure out what to flick a fly at until the mullet and bass come good. I have a friend with a large pond on his farm which we go down to, to winkle out a perch or a roach when we are chasing, but this can become a little stale at time. It has been suggested to me by my husband on a number of occasions that I should try for a carp.

Now I don't wish to upset anyone but carp are not a fish I have ever really fancied catching, 'ditch pigs' and 'puddle hogs'  I have heard them referred to as, and I had always regarded them as ugly, overfed mutations of a fish bred to entertain the bait angler. As complex and stealthy as it is, the idea of sitting stringing boilies together, and waiting to be woken up by a bait alarm is not for me. So I was not that keen when Jonny suggested it, but after saying what a numpty I was, he told me he was suggesting I target them on fly! Ok, I thought, well its worth a go.

The first day was bright, sunny and fairly settled, and the carp we could see were very active, big rubbery lips popping up to the surface to munch on floating food sources. I had heard that carp are very sensitive to touch and will easily shy from a fly if it doesn't feel right.

I had looked into carp flies and the general pointers were dog biscuit and bread flies. So I tied up a little foam bread fly, attaching the foam to the hook by threading nylon through it with a bead on the side of the foam, this allowed the hook to sit on top of the foam and hopefully reduce the chance of the fish feeling the hook.

Slowly and quietly stalking the banks looking for top feeding fish, spotting one and flicking a carefully aimed fly just in eye view of the fish. Some were to clever but it wasn't long before the hook ups came. This was actually much more fun than I had anticipated, these ugly fish gave quite a fight, and I was surprised to see the small ones often running off along the surface much like a bone fish! At one point I targeted a large common I had spotted he took the fly and gave me the run around for a good 10-15 minutes before he slid into the net.

As the day wore on just before it was time to head home to feed our two Labradors, we noticed the fish feeding on bugs that had fallen on the surface. I took out my fly box and tied on the one black fly that was in there. Clocking a feeding fish an accurately aimed cast dropped the fly in front of him, it didn't take much to tempt him and a big mouth engulfed the fly to add one more to our tally.

Although bread and dog biscuit flies worked well, it did seem a little bit like cheating, catching on a natural fly was bound to be much more rewarding. I tied up some simple black gnats and retuned to the lake the following weekend.

This day was much cooler and overcast, the fish were less active and a bit more spooky than before. But the odd few were visible just below the surface. Some were just cruising, and a few were feeding on the surface.

The simple black gnat fly

The simple black gnat fly

We tied on the little black bugs and started stalking! Jonny was off straight away - I sware that boy has magic powers when it comes to catching fish! But it wasn't long before I spotted a potential fish sucking at the surface, I cast a short line to gently land my fly just in front of his nose. He started to rise, bumped it and then turned away. Annoying! I crept a bit further around the lake and spotted a couple of fish feeding close together, I cast out but just a little too far, I lifted the tip of the rod and gently dragged the fly back near to the feeding fish. Luckily this did not seem to offend them, one turned spotted the black morsel, opened his rubbery mouth and he was on.

The whole process was just as exciting as any other sight fishing trip I had been on. Spotting the fish, watching for the feeding ones, deciding what they were eating, stalking to and then casting a spook free line. So I have to take back all the negative thoughts I had towards carp, these fish were clever and powerful and did not give up easily, and although they really are not one of the most beautiful fish, the names of ditch pig and puddle hog I would use now more as a fond term of endearment rather than a scoff.