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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Questions about your Carp fishing

The more correspondence I have with Carp anglers across the country the more curious and fascinated I am with where people Carp fish and how they access Carp.  To a certain extent we all have some things in common.  Carp behaviors and characteristics seem to be fairly consistent.  Strategies and techniques that work are effective many places.  Increasingly I realize that some of us are fishing water that is quite different and we are accessing Carp in many different ways.

Often I wade shallow water when I fish for Carp but I also fish from my Zodiac a good deal.  I'm not using the Zodiac for transportation to get to the next spot where I will be wading.  When I am in the Zodiac I am fishing from the Zodiac the entire day.  Some years ago I published a magazine article about the advantages and disadvantages of fishing from Zodiac versus wading.

So here are my questions.  I'm not asking for GPS coordinates by any means; you don't even have to name the water you fish.  

1.  If you are in the United States what State you live in and if you are not from the U. S.  what country you live in?

2.  Do you fish moving water or still water or both?

3.  Is the water you fish typically clear, slightly off color, or just plain brown?

4.  What is the bottom like?  Is it muddy and dangerous to wade?  Is it firm mud, sand, pebbles, cobbles, or jagged rocks?

5.  Are there sometimes or typically a lot of weeds where you fish?

6.  Do you fish from shore?

7.  Do you fish from anything that floats?  An aluminum boat, an inflatable boat, a kayak, a canoe, a pontoon boat, a kickboat, or a float tube?  

8.  If you fish from something that floats how do you move around?  Gas motor, electric motor, oars, paddles, fins, push pole?

9.  If you use an anchor how do you manage it?

10.  Is there anyone out there who does both?  By that I mean that you wade and fish from something that floats.




  1. Mr.P.,

    Boise, Idaho
    Mostly still water.
    Mostly off color.
    Silt/mud to small cobble, don't wade.
    Algae as vegetation mostly. Some exceptions.
    Totally from shore.
    Have a pontoon craft kids bought for me, unused.
    That's about it for me.


    1. Gregg, thanks for the reply. Your emails explaining how you fish from a chair were a significant part of why I posed the question. While Carp behavior has some consistencies across the country I am fascinated by all the different circumstances that people fish in.

  2. Mr. P,

    Chickamauga, GA


    Slightly stained

    Suck-your-boots-off Georgia red clay

    A few weeds. Some algae.

    Canoe pretty much 100% of the time

    Electric motor to get there, and then a push pole

    I hang my leg over the side and use my foot as anchor in shallow water. If I need to use an actual anchor, I raise and lower it very carefully by hand for stealth.

    1. Thanks for the reply Ty. I have really enjoyed our email exchanges. From what you said you have lost more than one pair of boots in that Georgia red clay. That's so different than some of the rocky bottoms I see at times though I do fish some venues where the mud is so bad you could never set foot in it and live to tell about it.

      Your leg over the side of the canoe really speaks to how differently we all can be approaching our Carp fishing. Are you able to net fish when you are in your canoe or do you just release them while they are still in the water?

  3. Only once did I fish from a drift boat. Normally I fish from land ( lots of lakes & ponds). I live in Brooklyn, New York & currently fish in New York and New Jersey for carp. When I river fish it is in brackish water. A few places are clear but shallow. Most fisheries in NYC parks do not permit wading which is just as well since the bottoms are extremely soft; water is brown. weeds are not an issue most of the time.

    1. Thanks for the reply William. Are you Bill de Brooklyn on the CAG? If you are Bill de Brooklyn I remember you making a post about chumming. It is illegal in Washington and Oregon so I just don't see people doing it. Again, it is fascinating how each of us is adapting to our individual circumstances to get Carp to take the fly.

      I understand brackish water to be water that has more salinity than fresh water but not as much as saltwater. Where I live we have a good deal of brackish water in our estuaries. Do you have Carp in that kind of water? Carp adapt to so many settings; they are such survivors.

      Also, I recall that you are even able to take public transportation to get to Carp water. Amazing! I drive a minimum of 3 hours to get to my water.

  4. Neat idea Mr. P

    1) Colorado
    2) Both stillwater and moving water. Can't decide which I like more!
    3) In CO dirty water sometimes works better in the summer because of the high light intesity. Otherwise I look for clear whenever and where-ever I can.
    4) All different kinds of bottoms. I like their attitude the best over gravel, rock or sand. I like mud the least but work with what is available.
    5) Not allot of weeds in CO because of fluctuating water levels.
    6) Stupid CO front range water authorities do not allow wading in many stillwaters. Otherwise I wade whenever possible.
    7) No floating. I used to try and use my Carolina skiff in MI and it didnt work worth a damn. They are way too sensitive to wave noise and trolling motor noise.

    1. Hi McTage. Thanks for the reply. When you can fish both stillwater and moving water it is hard to decide which is best. Likely, we are both influenced by where we are catching fish.

      Interesting observation about preferring cloudy water in the middle of the summer. As we come out of the howling winds of spring around here I find myself saying how much I would love to fish one day without any wind. Well then there is no wind and the water is clear and I'm wishing for a bit of color or a breeze.

      I like their "attitude" the best over gravel, rocks, and firm sand too but like you I work with what is available.

      Very interesting that your skiff didn't produce some results. What is it made of? Can you use a floating device of any kind where you are not allowed to wade?

  5. 1)Pennsylvania
    2)Only moving water to date.
    3)clear water
    4)hard clean river bottoms and smaller creeks with some softer muddy areas.
    5)seldom weeds
    6)Usually wading along the edge of the river.
    7)Only wading to date, though I love bass fishing from my canoe and I have a new set of canoe outriggers designed for fishing flats and casting while standing (www.kay-noe.com) - so I'm hoping to be searching the lake shallows for tailing carp this year.
    8)small electric trolling motor and/or paddles
    9)seldom use anchor

    1. Thanks for the reply Scott. I have seen some pictures of a couple streams in PA and I watched a short video also. It looks beautiful.

      I'm jealous that you don't need an anchor. I always have a 10# anchor in my boat. It is so windy here that I have to clip an extra five pounds on sometimes and the wind will still drag the boat.

      When you are wading and fishing the river is the water slow moving or is there noticeable current? Are the fish circulating in the margins or are they holding in the current? Do you cast and strip, drop, or are there some circumstances where you are swinging the fly across the current?

    2. Most of my river fishing has been done in the drier parts of the summer when our central PA rivers are low.

      River reaches with long, deep pools are bordered by clear flats where carp will tail aggressively, particularly early in the morning. I have found them holding, and feeding in the current where you can swing a fly much like you would for Pacific salmon, but the majority of my takes have come casting and stripping small crayfish flies or wooly buggers in the flats near the river's edge.

      It's amazing how little water these large carp will feed in (4-5 inches), particularly with blue herons, bald eagles and osprey present in large numbers.

      On a good morning I will approach a 200-300 yard stretch of river on foot, and might encounter 10-30 large carp feeding/tailing their way up the river's edge, in groups of 1 to 10.

      I hope to do more floating in the canoe this year to identify more prime stretches of shallow flats - and this year I'll be armed with a few carp carrots of my own.

      Thanks for the inspiration. Good fishing.

  6. I wish I could answer these questions... I'm still working on getting my first carp on the fly rod.

    1. Stealth, thanks for the reply. I'm pullin' for you man; you can do it. 2012 is your year! Let us know when you connect.

  7. Mr. P,

    Your carp carrot got me my first carp on the fly rod in 2011. Thanks for sharing your knowledge about the carp and fly fishing.

    1. I live in Belleville, IL which is outside of St. Louis.

    2. I mostly fish still water, but I do hit up a river now and then.

    3. The water I fish in is brown.

    4. The bottom is mostly silty and muddy.

    5. A lake I visit often, Frank Holten State Park, holds a lot of carp and it has reeds around the perimeter of the lake. It also has an average depth of 4ft ish and tons of flats.

    6. I fish from the shore on a smaller pond that is close to home. I can make a round stalking the carp, then head home. However, I mostly fish from a 14ft canoe.

    7. I mostly fish from a canoe, but my dad has a jon boat that we use when I go home to visit.

    8. I use a paddle in the canoe and I sit in the center seat. I use the paddle as a push pole in the shallows and I stand up to scout for the carp. This allows me to be very quiet on the water.

    9. I do have an anchor, but I almost never use it when I am carp fishing. I have an anchor cleat that I tie off on one side of the canoe. Nothing fancy here.

    10. I have canoed to some spots and gotten out to wade, but I mostly fish in waters that have incredibly muddy bottoms that suck you in. Not great for wading.

    Being quiet on the water is super important, so I try to bring as little gear to clang around as possible. I also bring a net for landing the carp. I find it easier to fish from the shore because you don't have to manage the canoe and all that goes with it. But if the wind is calm and you are onto some carp, nothing beats it.

    1. Thanks a lot for the reply Justin. It is SO true that being quiet is super important. More and more I realize that even when a Carp doesn't bolt their behavior can change subtly as they go what I call "on alert". Noise puts them on alert. Bad casting does too.

      It is so much easier to just pack the gear you need to wade rather than the boat or the canoe. Once you are in the boat or canoe and it is working it is a different, and very enjoyable experience.

      Like Scott in PA I'm jealous you don't need an anchor. I think that here in central WA we have our own wind, we have PA's wind we have your wind too.

      When you are fishing with your dad in the Jon boat do you both fish at the same time? Do you take turns being "up"? Does one of you pole the boat while the other fishes?

    2. Hey Mr. P. I fish for bass with standard gear when I go with my Dad. However, I fly fish for carp with a buddy in the canoe. We both sit and take turns casting at fish. I usually sit in the back to put us on the carp. We booth scout for the carp. I stand in the middle when I am solo. I hardly every sit when I go in the canoe solo.

    3. Thanks Justin. I am more intrigued every day by the different ways people pursue Carp.

  8. Ellensburg, Wa


    Gin clear to double Mocha

    Mud, sand, pebbles and my fav is cobble

    From mid-season on more and more weeds in the soft bottom areas

    Sometimes from shore, often from an aluminum boat... troller and poling.

    Do use an anchor. Often I set it in a good spot and let fish come closer. Also just stand on the carpeted deck with one foot on the anchor rope which is quieter than locking and unlocking the latch. I can also quietly let a little line slide and move with either the current or breeze. It a perfect scenario a very slight breeze moves me along slowly...

    1. Ellensburg WA! Yeah, close to home--less than an hour from the Carp Lodge. Thanks for the reply.

      Love those cobbles for the major fatties; oh yeah.

      How big is your boat? Are you able to pole it by yourself? Do you pole with an oar or do you have something like a PVC or graphite pole? Trying to pole my small Zodiac was laughable.

      Fascinating how you use your foot to control the anchor.

  9. I have a 14' jackboat, it's a little wider than normal 14 footers.There's large carpeted wood deck up front. It's very stable. My pole is nothing more than a 14' wood dowel. I can do it all myself. Just as often I will walk the boat from the back with a fisherman up front. That gives me much better control, no anchor dropping.. motor on and off biz to blow the fish out. Two people can fish up there easy if the situation is suitable for two people to be casting to carp. Sometimes it's all about stealth as you well know and only one person at a time is the way to reap rewards.

    What I find amazing is that I have not run into you down on the water near the Carp Lodge! I have been fishing down there for at least 15 years. At one point I was down there 4 days a week all season fishing.

    I just got off the phone with Jon Luke from Northwest Fly Fishing. Spirit River sells his carp flies and maybe you have heard is name before. I write for his magazines. We were talking about getting down to the big river early (April) this year to have the best shot at 30lbers or better. When do you start chasing carp at the Lodge? Maybe we should all get together this summer get some great photos, video, underwater footage etc. and chase carp. How far from the Lodge area do you run with the zodiac?

    1. Hi Stephen,

      It is surprising we haven't run into each other. In the Zodiac I don't stray far at all. I have gone in April but it seems to be more my need to get out than a good chance of catching Carp. That doesn't mean I still don't go anyway. Yes, I would enjoy fishing with you and John. Let's talk.

  10. 1. Wa State/Columbia Basin

    2. Still water

    3. Slightly off-color

    4. Can be a little bit of everything, but primarily mudd

    5. Since the introduction of milfoil, unfortunately weeds are difficult to avoid anymore

    6. I do wade & stalk when the opportunity allows that approach

    7. Float tubes & Scadden pontoon
    8. Fins in both float tubes & the pontoon; oars in the pontoon when travelling to & from fishing areas.

    9. No anchor on the float tubes, rather I hold position via fins or holding to the bottom in the shallows. I use a Scotty anchor mount on my Scadden.

    10. In many instances, the floating craft provides transportation to my targeted fishing area, where I then wade when feasible.