I grew up in central Pennsylvania using light tackle to chase smallmouth bass in rivers and creeks, and largemouth bass in farm ponds. I still have a soft spot for small lures, light mono and a good spinning reel.
As a self-taught teen, I learned that a fly rod offered the most fun way to catch any type of fish. Still, the fly rod was a challenging route to take, and often, it just didn't seem worth the hassle.
In my twenties, pursuing my academic interest in Stream Ecology took me to some interesting places, and some fly rod success, peaking with a couple summers in Alaska, where I was introduced to beautiful rivers and bigger fish - swinging streamers and sight fishing for large Pacific salmon. Awesome! Such great fun to throw larger loops and cast for distance and accuracy.
Eventually I returned to PA and found that stocked trout did not hold the allure they once did. I loved flyfishing for smallmouth, but didn't have great water in my backyard. I did some trout fishing, but I had the urge to throw more line to fish I could see.
Fate smiled upon me when my brother mentioned he had a earned a free trip through work. He mentioned Belize was one of the possible destinations and I jumped out of my chair. "Bonefish on the flats" I was in heaven. Sight fishing to beautifully spooky fish in an ecological wonderland. I narrowly missed my shot at a school of permit, but I relished attempting to send my weighted fly over 100 ft. to hungry fish I could see.
As I researched my trip in the winter of 2011, I read that fly fishing for carp was an excellent way to prepare for a bonefish adventure. "Surely not", I thought. I had never intentionally pursued those homely fish, and the few times I had cast in their direction, they seemed paranoid and unwilling to follow a "real lure".
Still, I enjoyed the bonefishing so much - the combination of hunting, stalking and fishing - that I knew I'd need to give carp a try.
It only took one outing to convert me. I headed for some bigger water - a river where I had seen plenty of carp through the years, but never given them a sporting thought.
I showed up at first light on one warm August morning. And there they were. Fat tails in skinny water.
|A beautiful summer morning|
I blew a few good chances, but other tailing fish continued to move up into the shallow edges from downstream. Finally I connected. One large carp proved too much for my knot. One broke the hook (I'm still trying to figure out how that happened). They all got away that day, but I was hooked.
On another outing to a smaller stream, I finally managed to catch a carp on the fly - not the biggest, but I had a taste of success. I spent the winter consuming every flyfishing for carp book, blog, website and free tip I could find. I bought some flies, tied some flies, and annoyed every fishing buddy I could find with the potential of this new addiction.
|Success! A worthy adversary on a 6 wt.|
Big Fish! All summer! No Crowds! Nearby! Small Streams or Big Rivers! Sight Fishing! Did I mention Big Fish?
Very few of them seemed to get...but I knew I wasn't crazy...Right?