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Quentin 08-26-2002 10:10 PM

Carp Fishing -- "Berry" Fly Reconsidered
Ok, I stand corrected :o . Carp definitely & deliberately eat "berry" flies. Twelve of them did today! (I doubled my lifetime fly rod carp tally in one day!) Even carp that were swimming and not mudding ate the fly.

I launched my boat in the pond above the dam in Housatonic, MA, where the river is loaded with carp. Most are small but there are plenty of mid-sized and larger fish too. I rowed upstream to where the water is shallow with a rocky bottom and there is a moderate current, and then I got out and fished from a gravel bar. There were a few small carp swimming around, periodically stopping to feed. I started casting the brown woolly bugger (of course) but the fish didn't want that. I tried the beadhead hex nymph but they ignored that too. OK, so I'll try the "berry" fly again, since the guy at the local fly shop told me that's what he uses in that part of the river. I tied on a purple and orange yarn "pom-pom" and started casting at fish. I was frustrated initially because the fly sank so slowly that it would drift past the fish before it reached the bottom. Then one of the fish turned and took a closer look at the fly. Hmmmm. Guess I'll keep trying. A few casts later, a small carp (~2 lbs) turned and inhaled the fly as it drifted past. Wow! It works! I landed 3 other small carp at that spot, along with a few bluegill and a smallmouth bass. I'm not sure what the fish thought they were eating since there were no berries in the water as far as I could tell.

I decided to head back downstream to the spot where I'd seen some big carp sunbathing a week or so ago. As I drifted downstream I went over some deeper water and saw several carp of various sizes swimming around at all depths. I made a short cast and let the fly drift with the boat. The fly was about midway in the water column and one of the carp sucked it in but I missed the hookset. Wow, they really like it! A couple more drifts, more hits and misses and then I hooked and landed one. OK, lets try something else. I casted towards shore even though I didn't see any carp in the area. Sure enough, a couple of carp swam by and one of the ate the fly as it drifted along. This one was a little bigger, perhaps 7 lbs.

OK, time to find the big ones. I headed further downstream and came across some flats where there were hundreds of small and medium sized carp. Some were just swimming, some were mudding and some were splashing around. Stealth wasn't an issue because even when I spooked a bunch of them there were soon others swimming nearby. I got a few more by sight casting and watching the fish hit, but I also got some by casting at wakes and just watching for the end of the fly line to move. I even got one "by accident" while I was untangling my line! I tried a couple of other colors (purple/white and solid orange) and they ate those too. I also tried an olive woolly bugger and caught one on that as well. I never did find the big ones, but did get a few in the 5 - 8 lb range.

I don't know why they hit so well this time. Just hungry? Competition among all the fish? Lack of fishing pressure? All of the above? Whatever the reason, it sure was fun!


Dble Haul 08-27-2002 08:17 AM

That's great news, Quentin. Of course now you know we need that fly in the archive! When you get a chance, please share.

You're living up to the title of "Carp Stalker"! :)

Mattb 08-27-2002 12:52 PM

Congrats Quentin, sounds like you really had a breakout day.

What size berry are you using for these fish? I would think the wool would be pretty hard to sink, are you weighting the hook at all?

I went out here today at lunch and the water was very murky for some reason. visibility was awful, but I still managed to sight a couple of fish and get one to eat. Unfortunately I missed the hookset, I felt him there for a second before the fly came slingshotting back at me.


Quentin 08-27-2002 06:47 PM

I'll put the fly in the archives, although it really doesn't look like much!

The flies are from 1/4" to 1/2" in diameter. Some are weighted with a short piece of lead lashed to the hook. One had a larger, heavy duty hook. Some aren't weighted at all. The yarn I'm using is Needloft Plastic Canvas Yarn. (Ames Dept. Store. 39 cents for a 10 yard skein. Probably even cheaper now because they're going out of business.) Let's see: I use 3 - 4" per fly, so one skein will make over 100 flies!

The flies all sink quite slowly and sometimes even float right after casting if I make a couple false casts first. A quick tug will pull the fly under and the fluoro leader helps it sink. The heavier ones will pull the end of the fly line under and sink to the bottom if there's not much current or wind, but the light ones drift above the bottom if the water is more than a couple feet deep.

BTW, I went back today to look for the big boys but I still didn't find them. The wind didn't allow for much "looking" but I did manage to get a bunch from 2 - 6 lbs. A few were caught blind casting on the flats where I knew there were fish. Most were caught by "semi" blind casting, where I would cast towards fish or moving shadows, although I couldn't actually see them hit the fly. The rest were sight fished. It still amazes me that they will actually turn and/or change depth to eat or inspect the fly. I'll have to try these flies in some other places where the carp are bigger but not as plentiful. Maybe the little ones are stupid, or perhaps they just have different feeding habits.


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