Fly Fishing for Carp

A fish from a previous visit to the same venue

A fish from a previous visit to the same venue

I have just spend a couple of hours at my closest fishing venue fly casting for carp. Now it has to be said that whilst trout live in the most gorgeous of surroundings carp don’t seem to be anywhere near as fussy and this place isn’t the type of venue where you would wish to take a dunking never mind actually drink the water.

On the other hand it does contain some very large carp in running water and that is the beauty of the place. I suppose that there are those that would sneeze at fishing what amounts to a virtual sewage outfall but the lure of 20lb fish that run you into your backing and can take half an hour to land is enough to get those of us carrying the fishing gene pretty excited.

I haven’t visited the venue for a long time, the fishing there blows a bit hot and cold and can be slow, especially if the locals have been fishing the carp out for supper, a frequent occurrence, plus of course here in SA carp are not only looked down upon but are actually listed alien species. In short to the majority they are vermin and like all good vermin they are plentiful :-).  South Africa must be one of the best carp venues in the world and nobody really gives a toss about them except for the few of us that like to catch them occasionally. Even the bait anglers use methods far less sophisticated for the most part than their Northern Hemisphere brethren with their boilies, hair rigs and encampments, here a bit of bread or some sweet corn is about all you really need, unless of course you elect to go “fly only”.

It was a sunny winter’s day here, the river’s usually meager flow was a tad better than normal and that may have helped things along. There were a few bait anglers, that is hand lining for supper types  but for the most part here the carp are used to feeding on natural food and a well presented blood worm pattern can really do some damage when things are on.

The methodology was born out of a need to practice Czech nymphing or mono nymphing for yellowfish on the Orange and Vaal River. Mono is best for carp, the takes are very subtle and even with a short line the inclusion of a fly line in the mix dampens the takes significantly.

The method is based on flipping out a well weighted fly, usually containing a large tungsten bead in the dressing as well as a couple of other ones of slightly less weight. When fishing for yellowfish or grayling one can rely on the tick tick of the flies on the bottom to indicate that you have the correct depth but here the bottom is sand and you can’t be sure. Experience has shown that heavier is better if only to be certain that you are in the zone. Which when it comes to carp means hard on the bottom.

I always thought that carp were primarily olfactory feeders, feeling and sniffing out food in the murky waters they tend to inhabit. However after some experimentation it shows that they will respond visually to flies, in particular blood worm patterns and the odd dragonfly nymph for that matter.

The judas bloodworm, securely in mouth "A"

The judas bloodworm, securely in mouth "A"

The sluggish, pig like features of many stillwater carp, particularly those heavily fished with bait and buckets of ground bait have given the humble carp a lack of street cred’, whereas these naturally occurring and moving water fish are sleek, fast and powerful, worthy adversaries tricky to hook and battlers to the end when you try to land them. They are also huge and fish of seventeen odd pounds (about eight kilos) are quite normal.

It wasn’t a particularly productive afternoon; I missed a take, nearly foul hooked one and got another fair and square in the lips. (What the old hands at mono nymphing euphemistically refer to as “mouth A”, you can foul hook a lot of fish when they are thick on the ground). The fish I landed was estimated at around eighteen pounds, and proved to be good fun on a five weight rod.

I really do now need to do some work but it was worth the few hours spent and as said the place is the nearest thing to home that I have where it is really worth throwing a fly. It might be grubby and carp may not be a glamour species but it provides a worthwhile distraction when one has to get a fix.

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