Early on in my days of fishing, I was told that carp are, low key, the most clever and, pound for pound, the hardest fighting fish. The stories of fighting carp, by carp fishermen, surpass that of even prized bass.
I’ve never really been much of a carp fisherman. Recently, however, I was challenged with an exceptionally clever population of carp.
Every Pond is a Carp Pond
I was walking my dog on a Sunday morning at the local community park. Fishing didn’t seem like much of a thing here, but I did see one angler with his daughter throwing Wonderbread from an ultralight rig. He had hooked up once that day, but the line broke.
I observed the fish and determined that they were weary. As I watched their backs slightly break the water in this small community pond, I could see them actively avoiding strange doughy bait being cast from 2lb line.
I dropped off my dog at home and came back with my my fly rod and $0.90 worth of tortillas from Taco Bell. I wanted to do something weird.
The Smaller the Pond, the Tougher the Carp
I forget where I’ve read it, but somewhere in the mid-life of my time fishing, my thought about carp was modified into thinking that the body of water, size, and population also play a part in how clever carp can be.
For instance, in a big lake, the carp bite may be closer to that of frenzied bluegill. Perhaps this is due to a large population with a ton of competition in the water.
Perhaps it goes even further in that the carp are so plentiful that individuals haven’t learned to be clever. Could they be like teenagers going to their first house party, unaware of how real dangers can be? Unlike their small-pond relatives, these juveniles haven’t had the experience to be weary of that oddly placed dough ball.
In this pond, I could kick a rock onto the opposing shore.
Do Carp Associate the Smell of Yeast with a Lip Piercing?
With my fly rod in hand, I headed back to the pond, ready to hook up with a 10lb fish on ultralight tackle. My 4-lb tapered leader was tied onto a bare hook and pressed with tortilla. I tried leaving pieces of tortilla flat but the casting action would break the bait right off.
I’m not a great fly fisherman. I’m not even good. I barely pass as a beginner. My wife bought me a rod for Christmas last year after I had watched a ton of videos on Youtube and thought it looked really neat.
After almost flinging a bare hook into myself a few times, I decided to press wetted tortilla onto the hook and make a ball. An hour or so later, I’d score myself a D+ for being able to put a dough bait in the path of a swimming carp, only to see it turn away.
On some attempts, it appeared as if the carp was actually afraid of the dough ball presented in path and it would splash away in a cloud of mud.
What do you do when carp crack doesn’t work?
The Weak Start Chumming
When the weak can’t catch fish, the weak start chumming.
After a few hours of being frustrated and not understanding why the carp wouldn’t bite, I started feeling desperate. I started throwing chunks of tortilla into the water in front of the fish, expecting them to swallow one of the dozens of pieces now floating on the surface.
To my surprise, they wouldn’t even bite that, really. I watched as the fish would nudge the pieces of tortilla with their nose to break apart the tortilla. I’d watch them lip the corner of inch-sized pieces as if they were looking for hooks. I’d even watch fish actively avoid tortilla pieces like they were raged-out ghosts in Pacman.
They were kind of eating the tortilla after a few test bites, but I wasn’t garnering commitment from these fish that any piece of tortilla was safe.
I Hid Behind a Bush
No joke. I literally hid behind a bush and placed a Benedict Arnold tortilla piece with a hook in it amongst the field of floating flat bread.
These fish jacked me at least 5 times by breaking apart my wafers before taking them. I had fish teasing me at my feet.
I connected on a monster fish that ran my 4-lb tapered leader and pointed my bent fly rod to the middle of the pond.
I spent 20-minutes turning this fish gently back, forth, and towards me. Half of this time was spent sitting cross-legged letting the fish run with my leader after it disagreed with me putting my hands on its belly in attempts to hoist it out of the water.
A portion of this time was spent trying to fish my sandal from the muck after I fell in.
Eventually, I had my leashed opponent on shore, to be captured as a digital memory. I collected my hook, my photo, and sent my outwitted opponent back into the knee deep murky home that I disturbed it from.
Until next time, you clever bastard.