The Cayuga Fisher

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Fish and Tips

2008 Goal: postponed...

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Hot Knots

Never tie an improved clinch again.

The uni knot is versatile, easy to tie, and strong. Use it to tie on hooks or join two lines together with the double uni knot. Works great for tying dissimilar lines together or a leader to braid. For tying a braid backing to heavier mono or even a leader to braid the Red Phillips knot is faster and smaller.

Fly-Fishing for Carp:  Bend your Rod in Half!

Fishing Index

Those Sneaky Beasts:   The common carp (Cyprinus Carpio)

Updated for the 2007 season!

Catching a carp on the fly isn't as easy as I thought it would be.  On the other hand, I found it a lot easier and more productive than chumming and still-fishing.  In fact, fly fishing for carp is now a highlight of every spring!  They are one of my favorites, just a blast to catch on the long rod.  Look past your prejudices and toward the muddy water ahead... there are bruiser carp just waiting for your fly! (pic)  I have no idea how much this one weighed, but I'm guessing over twenty pounds and it's a typical good-sized fish, there are many bigger ones out there.  All I know is it didn't fit in the net or the bottom of my jon boat! 

Our waters feature more than just the common carp:  There are also brightly colored three-pound goldfish and goldfish-carp hybrids in Cayuga that are just as much fun to catch.  Sterile grass carp are also around, though the only one I've caught so far was a one-pound baby.  I saw an English carp fisherman catch a 34 lb. "mirror carp" (pic) several years back and even just watching that fight got my blood pumping!  (Also picture at right.)

He used traditional English tactics with a long spinning rod, rod holder and a "strike buzzer" to show any twitch in the fishing line.  The take from a carp can be so soft as to be almost imperceptible and those buzzers can really make a difference, this guy consistently outfished everyone 10-1.  This light-take habit is in part why sight fishing for carp is so popular with fly fishermen. (The other major reason is the excitement!)

There are several articles available online that will tell you how to fly fish for carp, so here are a few reasons why...

  • Carp are strong!  This makes for a great fight featuring several long unstoppable runs.  Ever push a big boat away from a dock, then try to stop it by pulling on a rope?  I get that same feeling when battling big carp!  They aren't speed demons and they don't jump, but it feels like a living tractor pull.  This alone makes them worth fishing for- and since they're the biggest fish in the area, fly-fishing for carp will test your tackle to the limit.  One of the best fights around and definitely the hardest pulling fish!  It's like catching a Mack truck or a sturgeon, not that I've ever hooked either one. 
  • Carp are everywhere.  Whether you like them, hate them, or just said "what's a carp?", they live in most bodies of water in New York. Chances are there are carp living ten minutes from your doorstep... or even less!
  • Carp are food!  No joke;  If you are brave and catch a carp in clean water, go ahead and eat it! Trim all dark meat and fatty areas, fillet, and cook.  I've never tried it so no guarantees, but carp were originally introduced into the U.S. as a food fish to begin with!  If all else fails, feed it to your pets.  Please do not waste fish or kill unnecessarily, but keeping a carp or two can be useful.  Think food or fertilizer for your organic garden.
  • Carp are smart.  Research has shown that carp learn faster than trout.  Presumably this also makes trophy carp harder to catch!  Any fish that cruises shallow water is always alert to danger and carp are no exception.  Nothing will clear an area of carp faster than an unexpected noise:  I've dropped something in my boat and watched all the fish within sight disappear in a flash!  Additionally, when in danger carp release chemical signals that quickly spread through the water, alerting other fish to the threat.  Like a bird screeching from the shrubbery, except the carp use smell, not sound.  Pretty cool, but it makes them harder to approach and easier to spook.  Scare one carp in a pod and the rest will disappear as well.

If that list doesn't convince you, try the carp challenge!  One fine spring or summer day, with the sun shining and the trout eluding your best presentations, take a trip to some nearby warm, slow, flat water.  Cast a few streamers for carp, and spend a little while actually trying to catch them.  This can be tough depending on their mood, but once your hook a carp, you take the challenge:  Is it possible to fight a carp on a fly rod, and not enjoy yourself?  I don't think so!

New! Carp flies:

The craythingy, essentially a crayfish colored woolly bugger with lead eyes and rubber legs.  Try it in olive, too.

The cottonwood seed, a specialty fly for areas rich in cottonwood trees.

The corn fly, it is what it sounds like, fish this one in heavily chummed areas.  Try soaking a few in anise or banana oil as carp are big scent feeders.

Also be sure to check out the recommended flies in the articles below.

Recommended reading:

Everyone loves carp!  My only question is, why were they overlooked before?  More good articles:

As I write this it is late March and carp season is nearly here!  Early pre-spawn fishing is my favorite, the carp are hungry and love crayfish flies.  My favorite technique isn't actually sight-fishing, though that's a lot of fun too, but I love dredging crayfish flies through known "carp holes".  The best are deep lies in slack water near structure- one of my favorites is a hole created from a falling tree in a shallow flooded area.  In early spring the fish move into the lower, slow moving reaches of streams in search of warmer water and food.  Look for quickly rising stream temperatures as this early fishing is very weather dependent.  As always, good luck!

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