Facing Your Fishing Addictions

It helps sometimes to face your addiction head on. At least it does for Simms Pro Desk Manager Pete Vandergrift.

Who doesn’t like sight fishing? I can’t get enough of it. So what are the options in the midst of one of the warmest summers in history and living in the middle of the country?

Well, carp of course. For some time now I’ve met up a few of my longtime fishing buddies for a weekend away from families, clients and home waters to test our skills on, what many believe, are freshwater’s best challenge. This is not only my favorite summertime activity—this has become quite an obsession with many Simms staffers. Simms parking lot is filled with boats jerry-rigged with carpeted platforms.

So when I am asked by carp newbies for a few tips, the long-time guide in me loves to share the wealth.

  • In the immortal words of Yoda: “You must unlearn what you have learned.” Once a carp sees your fly, you have to fight the urge to continue to strip like you would do for trout or bass. Letting the fly settle to the bottom is correct presentation. Carp just don’t have that ambush instinct of a predatory fish. Slow it down or let it sink.
  • Look for the flair. When sucking in your fly, carp gill plates will quickly flair. This is the moment you set the hook. A good rule of thumb is if you are questioning whether you should have set the hook, you’re too late. On a recent trip, a friend of mine who is aging had real trouble connecting because he can no longer see the details of the strike. There is one verified carp fisherman truism –the more frustrated you get misreading the take, the more viscous your setting becomes.
  • Think about the “mouth feel” of your fly. The lining of a carp’s mouth is full of sensitive cells which help to determine if what they have in their mouth is food or not. Because of this, using a fly with a nice soft feel can give you just a split second longer to set the hook. One of my buddies who comes on the annual carp-a-thon is an avid fly tier from Missoula. He is obsessed with new and innovative carp flies. His latest creation involves foam glued to the underside of rabbit strips. When the fly settles into the rocks, the tail floats up so that the carp can find it easily. It actually works great, especially in very skinny water and the rabbit has a nice feel so that the carp tend to roll it around in their mouth before spitting it.
  • Cover Up: It might be the mountains, but the sun will still singe your skin, which during the course of an angler’s life can lead to melanoma. I’ve become a huge fan of the Simms SunSleeve™. Many of my favorite Simms shirts are short-sleeved, but I like to cover up. The SunSleeves work great, plus the Bishop Saltwater Trio print make my guns look all tatted up. If you need a visual, I’m built like a stick figure and am afraid of needles. So neither guns nor tats are words I am usually associated with.
  • It’s ADDICTIVE. I’ve completely overhauled my boat adding two platforms, a trolling motor and, much to my wife’s chagrin, I’ve turned our fiberglass tree-trimming pole into a collapsible push pole. The bottom line is, it is hard to catch carp but it is utterly rewarding when you do everything right. Guide Ambassador Drew Miller and I where fishing together recently and he was working a pod of rising carp. We were in a river and the boat was slowly drifting toward the fish, he was crouching lower and lower and walking backward on the raised deck trying to elude the fish’s gaze (they are exceptionally spooky) and he fell right off the platform. This is one of the few times I’ve seen him look anything but in total control. Carp will bring the mighty to their knees.

So as warm water temps continue this summer, find a carp population near you and enjoy the greatest trash fish of them all.

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About Peter Vandergrift

Peter Vandergrift is Simms' Pro Desk Manager where he manages the industry's best collection of pro fishing guides and professional anglers. Peter is an 18 year Montana Outfitter and has guided and fished most places you wish you could have. Best known for his sharp wit, Peter is a proud father of 2 and resident of Livingston, Montana.
  • Carpddicted

    I spent every chance I had this summer on the Lake
    St. Clair Flats in MI sight fishing for carp. Sun soaked golden tails filled my dreams, I tied more crayfish variations then I care to remember, and spent
    any time not on the water thinking about the many Golden Ghosts I “farmed out”
    missing a subtle take. The waning days of summer have brought forth an inescapable and
    overwhelming uneasiness that can only be likened to the impending moment of
    clarity an almost depleted bottle of whiskey forces upon drunk in the middle of
    week-long bender.

  • fishzoo.net

    Hello Pet… thanks for the tips. I live on the lower Susquehanna river now and than I will lip hook a Carp while fishing for Hickory Shad in the spring. I use my own pattern which I call a bug in a blanket. It resembles a small crayfish or rock fly. Usually caddis green crystal dub with gold chain bead eyes. Is that similar to the pattern you use to target Carp?