Ok, I stand corrected
. 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!