“Stinky, rotten, slimy, nasty, foul, gooey, smelly, rotten, mudshark” is one description I’ve heard for them, but Carp are actually a legitimate sport fishing option, particularly when sight fished on light spin gear or fly.
Our recent trip to Burrinjuck was hard work. The intent was to catch Yellowbelly, but the bite was non existent. In 2 days of fishing we had about 3 bites and landed a couple of Cod and a Redfin. Not exactly the trip we were hoping for, and I never did tick the species off my “caught on fly” list that I’m working through.
Burrinjuck has a fairly large Carp population, and we ended up resorting to a couple of sessions of “Carp on Fly” as our fallback. We found them at the backs of bays cruising up and down the banks. After tethering the boats up we walked the banks, polaroiding the carp from a high vantage point.
Unfortunately for us, they were in no real mood for eating either. The fish were easily located, just below the water surface and looked to be cruising in between spots. On a positive, they were there in numbers. For a novice fly fisher, this was a great opportunity to practice sight casting to these fish. It’s not often you get the chance to have multiple casts at a fish, without spooking it, and this allowed me to get my casting range, and rotate through a range of flies to entice a response.
Now Carp can be found in just about every waterway where there is fresh water. They can tolerate a wide range of water conditions and can breed in highly polluted, oxygen drained water. They are classified as a noxious species in NSW., and whilst it is not illegal to return them to the water from where they were captured, the NSW Carp Control Plan 2010 published by NSW Department of Primary Industries suggests not to return pest fish to the water. The recommendation if you catch a pest fish, is to “kill it humanely and dispose of it appropriately away from the water”.
The successful technique involved casting the fly a couple of meters in front of the fish, so as not to spook it. The retrieve involved a series of erratic strips of the fly followed by pauses once it was in range of the fish. Every now and again, one of those cruising carp would turn in response to the fly, and a couple of well timed twitches were enough to entice a visual strike.
Once hooked these fish go as hard as any sport fish on light gear, and are a hell of a lot of fun. Josh and I were fishing our 6WT’s, and in all we managed a handful of fish on a range of different flies including Vicki’s “Egg sucking leech”, Woolley buggers, a #4 Hammerhead BMS tied by Chris Beech, heck, Josh even got one on a Crazy Charlie. The mood they were in, it required a lot of casts to entice a bite, but once hooked, it was well and truly worth the patience and perseverance.