Marp, Marp, Marp: The sound a Carp looks like it’s saying. Last summer was hands down one of the roughest seasons for guides and wildlife in the Western US. From droughts to fires, the struggles were endless. However, there is one species that’s been thriving through it all and an absolute blast to target on the fly when trout are no longer on the mind.
Carp. Carp are considered trash fish to many, yet what most don’t know is they are one of the most challenging fish to get to eat a fly. It is quite common for saltwater anglers to spend a great amount of their time practicing on carp in the freshwater before heading back to the big blue. Carp are typically bottom feeders, with small barbs on their sensitive lips to detect aquatic insects and feed on plant life.
When it comes to casting at them, they are both skittish and smart. Carp are very sensitive; it is rare to get one that tracks or chases down a fly unless they are actively feeding. The challenge of fooling one on a leech or dry fly is why they are a blast to target with a fly rod.
My best friend Bradley Funkhouser and I knew before the summer guide season even began that we wanted to get out and chase Carp. Any small opportunity to get away we would. Sure enough, we both found a day off together in the middle of July when our local rivers were in rough shape with high temperatures and low flows. It couldn’t have been a more perfect time to go mine for gold. Not the brown trout gold, though, but that slimy gold.
As always, we hopped in the car and sent a long drive through the night. The weather the next morning wasn’t looking too promising for our one day of fishing, windy and cloudy. Carp are best-targeted by sight-fishing. Carp feed either on the surface like cows or belly to the bottom, mudding around very similar to redfish. In our case, we had pods of huge carp surfacing and eating on top in the middle of the lake. Backs out of the water, opening their mouths above the surface like manatees.
The best way to typically target carp would be to fish shallow with a weighted leech pulled slowly on the bottom. These fish were very spooky to loud noises from the boat, standing too high on our chairs or getting too close. The challenge was addicting. Laying soft casts on top of 8lb-plus common carp was thrilling. As we slowly stripped black leeches on floating line through those pods, I finally tightened up on a strip-set which was followed by explosions on the surface from the group spooking and the line snapping out of my hands as the carp took off on its first run.
With a game of tug of war the golden cow would eventually marp its way to the net. Marp, marp, marp as they open and close their whiskers and lips just makes everyone in the boat crack up. A fish that cannot fail to make one smile is fat, stinky, but a genius carp.
For more fly fishing adventures, check out Joseph Evans on Instagram (@IdaaFlyy)!
Joseph Evans had a fly rod put into his hands at about the age of 12. The Boise River is responsible for his fly fishing addiction today. He is currently attending the University of Montana and plans to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in Journalism in the spring of 2022. He spends most of his time traveling the NorthWest rowing down rivers with friends practicing photography and videography. Joseph works the fly shop at Picabo Angler in the summer and hopes to continue building experience as a guide to pursue his passion for fly fishing.
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