So, its winter in full swing, after the holidays hustle and bustle its back to the normal. It’s cold in the north, under a foot of snow and ice. The stir crazy, cabin fever as that say, starts to set in. Unable to fish and all the spots to at least get out and check, maybe at least see some fish are frozen solid. (sometime seeing open water and maybe a fish helps the cabin fever) So what is a carp fly fisher to do. First thing first, find all your rods, reels and gear and get them out in a spot, office or such….
Although I have been fishing all my life, I am relatively new to pursuing carp as my target species.
For the last 15 years, I have been fortunate enough to have a lake house in Michigan, which allows me to wash away the stress of life near the city. I have fished for largemouth bass on this clear lake for many years. In addition, to being a good bass lake, this lake houses another resident well known to the bass fishing world who is like a big brother to me. This particular resident is known as the Z Train or Mark Zona and I can guarantee you that there is not a human on earth that knows this special lake and the beasts that dwell in it better than Z.
Illinois winters are generally very long and cold, during those frigid winter months I like to start making my plans for the upcoming season as cabin fever sets in very quickly! This includes picking out 2 or 3 big trips paired with scouting new potential venues for the upcoming season along with checking in on the venues I know of. The amazing thing about carp fishing in the US is the abundant amount of mostly untouched venues we have the option to wet a line! Anyway, back to my review!
As a primarily trout-focuses fly angler, I had always heard about people catching carp on the fly, but never really bothered to pursue it myself until recently. It was early summer last year, and I was out walking my dog around a familiar reservoir, observing the movement of water and wildlife. I stopped beneath some trees and noticed several common carp sipping cottonwood seeds off the water surface, completely unconcerned with my presence and absolutely gorging themselves; I was mesmerized. I went back to my car and collected the fly gear I had with me, rigged up a light colored hopper pattern, and went back down to shoreline thinking this was my opportunity to see what all the fuss was about with carp.
I don't want to name the water due to preservation reasons but for a few CPR anglers in the area who know, it has both a reputation as being a very difficult water and for holding some absolutely gorgeous fish. At about 800 acres long, I have to admit that I didn't know where to begin. My first session there had me driving around for about an hour before finally making up my mind on where to setup. With having had no time to pre-bait, I was prepared for a blank but still hopeful, so I got the rods out. At the very least, I'd learn more information about the water from the session for the future…
There is a particular attraction about the transition zone between the waters edge and the banks that hem it in. These zones are sometimes profitable, often interesting and frequently dangerous. In the natural word boundaries between habitats, areas where one ecosystem shades into another (‘ecotones’ as they are called) are often places that have a bit of the character of both. They may have more sun for these living out in the open, a little less for those living in the shade. They may be shallower for those coming from the deep, or deeper for those coming from the shore. They also collect food.
At the time of writing, March 2018 at home in Chicago, we're still in the grips of a long Winter but in the Southern States, it's already warming up very nicely. So at this time of year we focus our carp trips on these Southern States, especially Texas.
Seriously. It's what keeps us sitting there, the voice in our head saying, “Ok, 10 more minutes, then I'm reeling in and I'm done”. Of course, that's providing there isn't the slightest indication of a twitch, tug or rod tip nod. The list of excuses is endless, then another hour goes by.
As the winter months and the cold weather approaches, a lot of anglers take the time to hang up their gear, do a little maintenance, tie rigs, make bait or catch up on their carp porn. Then there are other anglers, the brave souls that just can't bring themselves to submit to the Winter conditions, even when it means sitting in sub zero temps with the howling winter winds freezing the extremities just for the chance of one more bite...