Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Carp on the Fly

Carp on the fly - Carp 32 Murdock 1Paul_FLYFishMAg

Capt. Paul Rose of Carolina

Until recently if you wanted to get some weird looks from your fishing buddies all you had to do was tell them that you had decided to target carp on the fly. Comments would run the gamut from "what do you use? Pellet flies" to a simply "Why?" It didn't take long (and a bit of $4 per gallon gas) for folks to realize that an abundant supply of large, very wary, very hard fighting fish in our local lakes might just deserve a look from the long rodders.

Many of you may have noted that I have been reading up on and tossing a few flies to carp from the banks of some of our area lakes. Out of three short trips I had managed only one short lived hook up with Mr. Rubberlips. My luck changed when I realized that one of the experts in the field, Captain Paul Rose, lived just down the road from the corporate compound. This past weekend Captain Rose and I spent a day on a little known area body of water stalking mud flats for carp in his Hell's Bay skiff.

The following is a sample of how the day went: 

Captain Rose: Ok 10 O'clock about 30 feet out.
Me: Where? I don't see him.
CR: Look for the orange tail, he just flashed at you.
Me: I still don't see him.
CR: Think brown trout.
Me: Oh Ok I've got him.
CR: Cast quick he's moving.
Me: (casting)
CR: You're behind him. Quick throw again. Slow down your backcast.
Me: Dang it...

Then later the same day (after shots at many many fish).

CR: Two fish 12 O'clock, throw at the front one.
Me: Where, I don't see them...Oh wait there it is...
CR: Hurry they are coming towards us now. They'll see the boat soon.
Me: (casting)more like flailing wildly.
CR: You're short - leave it though, he's looking at it. He ate it...
Me: (raising my rod as though setting the hook on a six inch long brook trout)Dang it, missed him...
CR: Well, at least he ate... That's an eat! I think we've had two more eat but I wouldn't swear to it.

You could tell that the good Captain was thinking an "eat" might be the best his angler could do that day. Let's just say that the skill set of your average small stream trout angler, namely me, did not translate well to a world that required pin point casts to moving targets that spook at the first sign of seizure induced casting mechanics. As the day continued Captain Rose put me in front of countless fish with only two short hookups and many many goof ups that were the result of me attempting to spot the fish, hit the target at the right time, detect the strike and then remember to strip strike instead of raising my rod. I could sense that Paul was getting worried for me when he almost took me seriously as I asked what kind of strike indicators did he use for carp?

Passing a bass boat with two angler's:

Bass guys: Catchin' any?
CR: Seeing lots of fish!
Bass guys: There's a brush pile just ahead of you.
CR: We don't target trash fish.
Bass guys: (looking befuddled and scratching their heads) Whatever.

The day was just about to come to an end when Captain Rose decided we would try one last spot. As we pulled into the cove I nervously took my spot on the casting deck and checked off a list in my head.

Line ready, I'm not standing on it, am I?
Fly in hand. That sure is a pretty fly. Wonder if he ties them himself?
Remember, roll cast, water haul, Is that stick moving?
Keep the backcast slow...

Then my daydream is interrupted as Captain Rose points out a fish at 12:00. My cast is slightly long but the fish does not spook and continues to come towards the boat. I strip in line and bring the fly past the fish and in front of him where I let it fall towards the bottom. Orange lips open and the fly is inhaled. Miraculously I don't raise my rod and instead set the hook with a short, sharp, strip of line. The fish is on and pulling line from the stripping basket. After a celebratory hoot I realize I have to land this thing and ask Captain Rose for advice. He responds that I am "on my own now, just don't break him off!" I didn't and after a five minute fight to keep him out of the brush piles I managed to get the golden fish into the boat.


Carp in the shallows is about as close as a Carolina angler can come to stalking bonefish without purchasing an airline ticket. The fish are smart, have great vision, and will not often tolerate a flubbed cast. It was very exciting to think that I could work on the same skills that it takes to go after salt water gamefish in my own backyard.

Captain Paul Rose is the man behind and has been featured in several area publications. Watch for future articles from Paul about tips and tricks for seeking the golden ghosts of the mud flats with a fly rod.

 Photo Credit: The Editor's Father (Rev. Murdock)

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