Friday, October 23, 2015

Techniques for targeting grass carp on the fly

Below is a collaboration from myself and a buddy** covering nearly 3 years of chasing grass carp.  They're a very challenging fish to take on the fly and it's taken some time to learn their behaviors and develop some techniques that offer repeatable success.  Over the years I'd estimate we've caught hundreds, if not more, grass carp on the fly.  I'm not an expert but here are some techniques that have helped me bring grassers to hand with regularity.   

The first thing I do is look for aggressive behavior and eliminate the carp that won't eat.  In life, there are situations that no matter how hard you work or what you have ZERO chance of being successful.  Searching for carp in the right mood and moving past the ones that only offer rejection will help you in your quest for success.  Some things to look for include:

Caught this sequence of a grass carp porpoising...

If you see this and your w/ a throw his fly rod in the water and move fast b/c that's an eat in waiting

Tailing - Fish feeding on the bottom, tail out of the water. 

Tailing in the shallows

Cruising - When you see them shining or porpoising in the distance.  But don't confuse with fleeing.  When a large group of carp are spotted moving in the same direction, away from your general direction, they've decided they don't like you.  In my experience these carp are on guard and grouped for protection.  Pack up and find new water.

Feeding on a hex hatch - epic days!

Feeding - Obviously if you see a grasser come up and eat something...bees, wasps, water bugs...go that way fast!  Feeding carp are aggressive and seem oblivious to their surroundings.  Example, a few weeks back I saw a group schooled up eating water bugs.  The water looked like bass schooling on the surface (hope you've experienced that situation).

After I find a target, the next part is getting a fly in front of the grasser.  I never blind cast.  I always sight fish them.  Having a kayak is a huge bonus in my opinion.  I've chased them from a boat using a trolling motor and feel like they can sense the motor turning.  The kayak allows me to access the skinniest water without making a disturbance.  The small footprint of a kayak allows me to get close (20-30 ft) to them and make accurate presentations.  I don't have much success outside of the dinner plate area.  They just don't go far to eat in most situations.  

I try to go in the middle of the afternoon with the sun high and when the wind is calm.  The water I chase them in is usually clear so spotting them is easy.  Conversely, it also helps them spot the kayak ninja.  Dressing to match your surroundings will help but it really doesn't matter how many buffs you wear, you'll never blend in all the way.  In the end, I still look like a a$$ clown standing behind an island in the picture below.  

Kayak ninja in action...can you see me?

What I've noticed and feel is vital to my success is how close I can get when I don't move.  See pic below.

2 grassers within 10 ft.  I was eating lunch and drifted into them.  They never knew I was there...until I stood up.

I'm convinced they pick up quick movements very well and react to them in sheer panic.  I try to avoid witnessing such behavior by doing my best to move slowly and being deliberate with my movements.  Example, if I need to squat to put my paddle down, I'll be casting from a squatted's good for the glutes!   

Small bream poppers have been fantastic when they're looking up.  If you can make your own upgrade the hook and you'll lose fewer fish to straightened hooks.  Start with no movement and let it sit motionless on the water.  If that doesn't get any interest I'll give it a little twitch or drag it slowly across the water.  It's 50/50 on freak out or eat.  If they won't eat on the surface I drop something off the hook.  Droppers are typically small bugger types, nymphs, and other slow falling carp patterns.  I've had very little success dragging anything to a grass carp.  They don't like to see things moving around them.  A slow fall seems to elicit a better response.

One of several grass carp posts I have on my blog.

If any of these tips (cough), help anyone land a few I'd love to hear about it.  You can post directly to my facebook page send pictures to me here: and I'll share if that's cool.

**My buddy goes by ark_salmotrutta on Instagram.  He's got some killer pictures from fly fishing around the US...if he'll ever share them.  He just got on social media (has a real job) so keep an eye out for future posts.   

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Playing catch up...

Seems like this is the story of my life the last few weeks. But I'm not complaining...I'm just fishing.

 Last weekend I was invited to a birthday party for my niece in LR.   As that's a can't miss invite I found a way to squeeze in a trip to the Little Red on Sunday.  Went to bed nice and early around 10 pm, and woke up for the last time about 4:45 am. 

Grabbed my stuff and started out the door.  About that time my brothers dogs went crazy.  I forget they put them in there at night to protect the pull-up bar that's really acting the part of a drying rack for laundry.  As I was hushing the dogs with my softest and most serious dude shut up voice.  I hit the garage door opener and waited for it to open.  Like you would expect, I hit the button again to close and made a run for it...trying to out run the door and sneak through the ever decreasing opening.

Remember that pull-up bar from earlier, well it's strategically placed to ruin your day.  The garage door was closing at mock 10.  I realize I've got almost no chance to make I'm in a full out, trying to out run my buddies to the last beer sprint.  I'm carry a bag of clothes on my left shoulder, breakfast in my left hand, and a giant cup coffee in the other hand....

It was "THE" perfect form tackle.  I led with my right shoulder...head on the front side...left arm followed through and I crushed that pull-up went flying, and the bag of clothes went sailing through the air.  It was a fine moment in my athletic career.  Unfortunately, I was too slow and missed the opening to the outside world.  Do it all over and hope for different results.

After successfully navigating the garage from hell.  I enjoyed a great day on the river.  It was a little crowded but the browns were out in force.  I sight fished almost the entire day.  Couldn't convince any of the +20" browns to eat but I had fun trying.

As I was paddling out, the sun was almost gone, and a huge...22-25" brown breached the surface about a paddle length from my kayak.  It went about a foot in the air.  My jaw hitting the kayak kept me from going higher than the brown.  That sight left me thinking I need to move...but I'll settle for a return trip soon.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Never ending fishing

It's been a while since I checked in on the blog.  If you've been following on facebook (thanks for the "likes" and comments, always appreciated...keep'em coming!) you know I've been fishing non-stop. The weekdays have me chasing grass carp.  Trying to get in as much carp'n as I can before the water gets to cold for them to be active on the flats.  Last time I checked I had over 500 pictures of carp swimming, running, pulling, flopping out of my hands, tail slapping me, and posing with me!  The fishing has been great...not 500 fish great, but it's been pretty insane.

In the middle of the carp'n a buddy invited me to the Little Red River for the weekend.  We had a blast camping and fishing 3 was nice to be in a boat and not my kayak.

We were hoping for some high water and trowing some streamers...tied a few special for the trip but the COE never cooperated.  It didn't matter, we caught some beautiful fish.  Sight fished a few nice browns and 1 huge 25" bow.  Fish like that make it nearly impossible to get a good presentation.  I ended up snagging a branch on a roll cast and spooking it!

My buddies 17" bow

Sow bugs practically crawling out of the water. Guess what pattern was very productive!

Got back home on Monday and went back to the usual carp chasing.  My buddy has more pictures and when he sends them I'll post to FB.  It's been fun, never ending fishing continues....

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Back on the flats...

Last weeks winds have blown through the area leaving the flats a few degrees cooler.  The grass carp are feeding more in the 10 am - 2 pm range after the sun warms the flats a little.  I really like this behavior b/c it keeps me out of trouble on the home front.

Typically, I have every intention of leaving the water at a respectable time and taking care of my adult responsibilities.  However, after wrangling a few 40lb grassers (see Friday's post), my decision making process becomes compromised.  Fish brain takes over and the follow-up conversation over a dinner of fried bologna and a bowl of dry cheerios isn't repeatable! Children can be vicious.

Look at that red

Despite all my best efforts, normally I'm one fish away from sleeping in my kayak and having my mail forwarded to the lake.  So this new pattern allows me to take care of those "other" things before I get on the water and appear to be a respectable citizen of the community and contributing member of my household.  I've been told, "awesome pictures of me holding fish" aren't considered a "contribution to the family".  Never to be repeated...but I disagree, they're the icing on the cake!  

Never seen one with a tail this blue

Glass calm....long, accurate, and delicate presentations are a must...what happens when you fail, see below
Jail to close.

Gonna be spending a lot of time on the water.  Follow my Facebook page and Instagram to stay up to date.  I'll be chasing trout this weekend.  Enjoying Fall so far!