The more I fish for carp, the more I'm fascinated with them. If a carp were a person I would describe them as that fat, lazy college roommate that spent most of his on the couch watching T.V. The only time he would get up was to stuff his face and quickly return to the couch. But he can be a weasel and had the smarts to talk his way out of anything often leaving you frustrated.
For the past several years I've been fly fishing for carp and it's been a trial and error process. I love to sight fish for them and the Rocky River is my Bahamas minus the white sands and bikinis. Keeping me company are the weekend hacks at the muni course slicing balls into the woods and once in a while the river. Fishing in low and clear water has made me a better caster as I have finesse it carefully.
The majority of carp found in Steelhead Alley's streams are not large. Most average over 5lbs and once in a while a 20 pounder will show up. The monsters are often found out in the lake and I've seen some that probably weight over 30 pounds. Carp are lazy and will rarely chase after a fly. They have their faces so deep in the buffet they often miss it. This can be frustrating and I don't know how many I've cursed that them for doing that. But it's the challenge of getting them to take one.
My favorite place to fish are the shallow flats and there are plenty of them on the Rocky. During low and clear condition, fish are easy to spot and it becomes a game of cat and mouse. They often cruise in the slower riffles sampling various sections for food. The tell tale sign are the plumes of mud being stirred up. But since I mostly fish in clear conditions, I don't have to rely on the plumes of mud.
Sunday was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky, young ladies jogging in tight shorts and the river was in a lazy mood. It was very low and clear and as I walked down river, I could see the numerous dug out redds. It was just a couple weeks ago that steelhead were spawning in every riffle and today it was vacant except for a few suckers.
As I reached the flats I spotted several carp feeding in the shallows. I crept in slowly and started to strip off some line. I had a small hare's ear nymph with a micro shot. I casted upstream from the fish and started to mend. The current wasn't that strong but I was concerned that the fly would over shoot the fish. I watched with intense concentration as I tried to visualize where the fly was going. I could see three fish gradually working their way upstream. Then the line stopped and I pulled - a mass of algae. I pulled in the line and removed and cursed the North Olmsted water treatment plant. The fish didn't notice and I had to back up and cast towards them. I got about 5' from two fish and watched the fly drop about 2' from one. I could see a the fish inhale it and with a quick hookset it was game on. The fish bolted for cover across the river and it steer it away from it. I using a 3X Seaguar fluoro tippet and if it was that shitty Orvis tippet it would of snapped as soon as I set the hook. It wasn't a large one, probably 5 or 6 pounds and that's what I usually catch on the Rock. I managed to catch a couple more on a # 10 hex nymph.
I waded farther down to a killer steelhead winter pool and I could see several carp and quillback suckers in the riffle. There were about 10 carp feeding including a couple that were over 10 pounds. I see them probing the bottom and I casted towards them letting the nymph slowly sink. I would give it a wiggle and that seemed to spark interest in one of them. He slowly swam over and sucked it up and I yank hard. He strip off line fairly quick and took me into my backing. Usually carp will make one long hard run and like a fat person keel over. It didn't take much effort to reel him in and he was slightly over 10 pounds. The rest of the fish bolted for cover and I knew they would be jerks as carp often are.
In the past, I've seen how clever and wily carp can be. When I was once using dough balls, I caught a lot of fish. They ran for cover and when they would come back to feed, they stopped at the balls I put out for chum and hesitate. They would swim away and then stop as their hunger and lust for cornmeal, peanut butter, honey and vanilla got the better of them. I watched them turned around and slowly come back. Several fish would inhale it and quickly spit it out and then eat the scraps. I think they were trying detect the hair rig I was using. I've read an article about how one of the largest British carp in captivity refused to eat boilies because it had been caught on them so many times.
For those who think carp are shit fish, I say grab a pole and try it out. I don't see a lot of people here along Steelhead Alley fishing for them. Most of the people I know are out on the lake chasing walleye and perch and they think the best place for carp is in the garden as fertilizer. I have a great deal of respect for them and they make the summer go by a little faster.