On the last weekend in June each year, my friend Bill and I usually go to New York to take advantage of the free fishing weekend (no license required
). Last year, at Saratoga Lake, I watched a big carp follow and eat my floating/diving Rapala after I reeled it past the carp's nose. It took half of my line and then snapped the 6 lb test line when I tried to turn it away from a bouy. I was using spinning gear because I hadn't started fly fishing yet.
We went back to Saratoga Lake again this year. I didn't bring the fly rods because Bill doesn't fly fish and my boat is too small for me to fly fish if I have a passenger. This time it was Bill's turn. He hooked into a big carp while blind-casting a floating/diving Rapala on 6 lb test spinning gear. He had just casted, pulled the lure under and said, "Got one." I looked over to see a small swirl, and then a bathtub-sized swirl as the fish started peeling line from his reel. We didn't see the fish when it hit the lure, but because of the way it hit we thought it was a big pike or maybe a huge bass. I began to row after the fish, then started the motor. We chased the fish around for 5 or 10 minutes trying to regain line and periodically pausing to clear weeds from the line. Every time we got close the fish would make another run. By this time we figured out that it was probably a carp, but we still wondered if it had eaten the lure or gotten foul hooked. We finally got close enough for Bill to pull the fish up so we could see it. It had definitely eaten the Rapala. The fish was at least 25 lbs
and Bill thought that he'd never get his lure back! The fish made a couple shorter runs and we caught up to it again after it hunkered down in the weeds. Bill pulled the fish up again and I snapped a photo before it dove back down. Then he handed the rod to me and said, "I'm tired, wanna fight it for a while?" The fish was beat too, and I was able to pull it up to the surface to get another photo and try to land it. Knowing that we weren't likely to get the fish into the boat, Bill said, "See if you can get the lure out." As soon as I grabbed the lure the hook came loose and the fish swam slowly out of sight, none the worse for wear and perhaps a little smarter.
We hadn't even seen a carp before Bill hooked up, but then we started seeing them everywhere. That place is absolutely loaded with them! We didn't catch any more, but knowing that they are there and that they might actually hit your lure, even if you're blind casting, certainly adds another dimension to the game!