Carp Tales Carp on the fly—a day in the marsh

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I’ve put in more time exploring and scanning google maps for potential Carp hot spots then I care to divulge (winters are long). Progressing into hot summer days devoted to driving, hiking and scouring beaches in search of Carp tails. Occasionally hitting pay dirt and other times stumbling onto nude beaches with my waders on and fly rod in hand. I don’t have a photo to prove it but somewhere out there are two old wrinkly white guys telling the story of “The guy said he was looking for Carp, Carp?!?!?” The last two people on earth I wanted to see naked… I saw naked, oh and the answer was “No” they hadn’t seen any Carp.

I wake up in the morning and the forecast has stayed true, light winds out of the south and sun all day, perfect conditions for a day of Carpin. First stop, Sleepy Owl Bakery for a breakfast danish, lunch danish and a drive home danish. As Winnipeg slowly fades away in the rear view mirror my mind starts to stray thinking about how many stops it will take me to find Carp, if there will be Carp and how long it will take Whiskey to spook the Carp. I snap out of it when I feel dog drool hit my arm and I ask myself how I could forget to wear a long sleeve shirt for the drive. Proceeding to thank him and remind him to keep the drool in the back seat, which he doesn’t. We arrive at our first stop, no Carp. On to the next stop with fingers crossed and a nervous half squint out of my left eye I see Carp tails. I’m in business, not the kind of business which has a financial upside but similar in the way that there appears to be a surplus of Carp which could yield a dividend of a sore forearm and maybe a fringe benefit of a few 30 inchers in the mix. Throwing my waders on and lacing up my boots I start to debate fly selection with Whiskey “I’m thinking a worm pattern?” “It’s been raining the past two days and it only makes sense, right?” I get a tail wag which I take as a confident “Yes” and tie on a chenille worm. Meandering my way down to the beach I repeat the Carp formulas to myself; less casts = more fish and patience + accuracy = Good Carpin.

Several feeding Carp off a sandbar farther down shore form my starting point. Steadily working my way into position and leery not to agitate the fish I spot a pod of Carp approaching my position and drop a cast about two feet in front of them. With a quick twitch of the fly a fish veers off from the pack and just like that I’m hooked up… and broke off seconds later. I look over at Whiskey in disbelief. He gives me the “Oh no, what happened” head caulk. I also envision he could be thinking something along the lines of “You asked me to stay out of the water for that?!?” or “Can I chase the Pelicans now?” Option three it is and before I get the words “go get em” out of my mouth he is gone full tilt towards the 35 Pelicans he has been rubbernecking since we arrived, returning with a goofy smile and proud tail wag. I laugh and shake my head over what transpired in the last three minutes. “One man’s misfortune is another man’s gain, right Whiskey?”

Regrouped and back at it I spend the rest of the day under sunny skies chasing Carp and pausing briefly for pelican hounding intermissions (pun intended). It’s smiles all around for the drive home. As we roll in to the driveway my neighbours are outside having beers before the hockey game, perfect timing. I open the truck cap and try to dodge about 200 bugs flying out at me, followed by my neighbours commenting “What’s that smell?” from 100 feet away. The truck smells like marsh, the dog smells like marsh and my lucky hat… you got it smells like marsh, I love it. The next three days are spent like Groundhog Day; wake up, coffee, drive, chase pelicans, chase Carp, drive home. My arm is hanging and my face is sore from smiling. Whiskey has no problem with the smell and as far as he is concerned it comes with the territory of being a certified Pelican Herder. The dog days of summer are here, if you haven’t yet you should probably crack out that 8wt and join the pursuit for the Golden Bones of Manitoba.
Harping on carp
Pond Pig, Poor man’s bone fish, Sewer Bass, Suburban Salmon or my favourite Golden Bonefish, Common Carp have coined more nicknames than most other fish combined. Introduced to North America in the mid 1800’s around the same time as Brown Trout, Common Carp have not enjoyed the same rise in fame as Brown Trout. They are an invasive habitat destroying species and are included on the worlds’ top 100 list of invasive species. Perhaps if they weren’t such prolific spawners, didn’t have the ability to survive in any habitat and weren’t considered impervious to extinction their future may have unfolded differently… but they are and it didn’t. Common Carp spawn multiple times in a single season laying up to a million eggs over the course of a year compared to the beloved Brown Trout that possess a single fall spawn of 2000 eggs. Manitoba like many States across America has devoted a whole lot of money and man hours trying to control the Common Carp population, appearing futile at times. Could it be they are just looking for a little bit of love and attention? Highly unlikely, but Maybe it’s time for Manitoba to start taking a little bit back like our brothers to the south. Common Carp tournaments and guiding services are spread out across the United States with lodges and outfitters catering to customer desires to catch these finicky, aggravating, bring you back for more, strong fighting gamefish. Love em or hate em, Common Carp are here to stay.

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Pack List (as per photo)
1. Bug spray
2. 20lb fluorocarbon
3. Lucky Hat
4. Multi tool, nippers, haemostats and hook hone
5. 8wt reel with floating line and 30lb backing
6. Polarized Sunglasses
7. 9’ 8wt fly rod
8. Wading Boots
9. Waders
10. Carp Flies
11. Sleepy Owl Danishes

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About Author

Paul has slowly been working his way east, fly rod in hand. Leaving the Pacific Salmon of Vancouver Island and wild trout of Alberta in his rear view mirror, he now finds himself dialed in on the trophy trout of Manitoba. Paul can often be spotted in the Parklands on his Manitoba Skiff….aka Jon Boat, with his trusty boat dog Whiskey.

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