On the fly: Don’t overlook carp | AspenTimes.com

On the fly: Don’t overlook carp

Kirk Webb
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Contributed photoAuthor Kirk Webb with a carp caught on the Colorado River near Rifle this week.

RIFLE, Colo. – As many of you already know, fly fishing for carp is easily one of my favorite springtime activities.

In recent years, fly fishing for carp has become the hot, new fish in fly fishing circles. Pick up any of the latest fly fishing magazines, surf the web, or ask a fishing guide: Carp are receiving all of the attention. While many fly fishers compare carp to bonefish, the redfish is the more appropriate comparison.

Carp have become popular due to their widespread availability across the country. They are a hardy species of fish that can tolerate a wide variety of conditions and water types. In that sense, carp are more of the cockroach of the fish world rather than the redfish.

In years past, my fishing diary indicates that March 1 is the official kickoff to our carp fishing season. Over the course of February, my friends and I have made countless trips to the lower elevation waters of the Colorado River and surrounding stillwaters to check on water conditions and see if we could muster up a carp prior to March 1. February sojourns yielded no carp for this reckless group of carp anglers. Unbeknownst to us, it was a leap year this year and Feb. 29 proved to be the first day in which our carp fishing season officially bega,n as the first carp of 2012 was finally caught.

Carp angling is sight fishing to the extreme, where hunting and stalking fish are paramount to success. Accurate presentations and long casts are required, not to mention walking slowly and carefully, as to not spook any wary fish. With the recent advent of the warm weather, the carp are moving out of the deep pools in the main river channels and instead begin basking in the shallow, dark-bottomed bays where fly anglers can see the quarry to which they’re casting.

While many novice carp fishers use “crossover” trout flies and streamers to fish for carp, having a basic understanding of the carp’s diet undoubtedly forces serious anglers to use flies that are specific to carp. More often than not, these flies imitate crayfish and algae and are designed to land softly on the water’s surface. Carry flies of varying sink rates to cover a multitude of water depths.

As many locals begin to plan spring break vacations to saltwater fishing destinations, the mighty carp is the ideal fish with which to practice. They’re big, hard to hook, fight like hell, and give you just enough positive reinforcement to make it both maddening and extremely rewarding.

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