Sight-Fishing for River Carp

FACT 1 - CASTING TO FISH YOU CAN SEE IS MORE EXCITING THAN BLIND CASTING.

FACT 2 -   BIG FISH ARE MORE FUN TO CATCH THAN SMALL FISH.

FACT 3 -YOU CAN FIND CARP CLOSE TO HOME IN JUST ABOUT EVERY RIVER YOU CAN THINK OF.

FACT 4 - If you can drift a fly within inches of the carp’s nose without alarming it, CHANCES are reasonably good that he will take it.

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Carp are easiest to spot in mid day when the sun is high but they will feed more actively during the early and late part of the day.  You’ll need a good pair of polarized sunglasses and a hat.  TAKE YOUR TIME – MOVE SLOWLY!  Unless you have no alternative, stay out of the water and try to conceal your movements.

Carp water may be cloudy, but the fish frequent the shallows and their backs can be seen sometimes out of the water. When they're grubbing in the silty bottom, their tails will be up and waving. You may also see mud clouds and air bubbles. In quiet water a big fish, even when lolling around, creates a surface disturbance you can see from some distance. But don't rush to a fish you see up ahead. There are likely others nearer, and spooking them will scare all the fish in the vicinity.

Getting the fly to the fish is the greatest challenge. Carp are quite spooky and will bolt if they see or hear you, leaving a wake and a mud cloud and frequently alarming other fish. If not actually spooked, they may be alerted. They stop feeding, and slowly sink out of sight or move to deeper water. Don't waste time on a fish that is nervous or has refused a well-presented fly.

Stay on the bank until you spot a fish, then approach as close as possible from behind and to one side. You can often creep quite near by moving slowly and staying low. Keep the rod low when casting, and avoid false casts.

There will be fish that refuse your fly no matter how carefully you stalk them. If the fish appears to be spooked by your offering, it may be smelling the scent of your fingers on the fly or tippet.  Don't get discouraged by the refusal of one fish; look for another that's willing to eat.

If the water is cloudy or if the fish are grubbing and your fly isn't visible, use a strike indicator (I use a dry fly if possible or a small bit of bio strike). A carp feeding slowly in quiet water takes a fly very gently and stays put. The slight movement of the indicator will signal a take.

carpDuring morning and evening in summer, carp may work riffles for crayfish and hellgrammites. The fish are easy to spot and much easier to approach than they are in quiet water. They'll chase a fly and strike hard, and you'll feel a hit even if you can't see your fly in the turbulent water. Use crayfish and hellgrammite imitations, and move the fly in front of the fish with very short jerks.  If you touch the fish with the line or leader he’s gone.

For reference I would strongly suggest you read Carp on the Fly by Barry Reynolds, Brad Befus, and John Berryman

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