Tricks to the Maine Carp fishing
Tailers or Mudders - Tailing carp are just like what you see in those great saltwater photos and videos of tailing redfish and bonefish. The carp, basically has his head down and tail up while feeding and looking for food (the tail may or may not be exposed above water). Since the fish is in a downward looking position and is feeding, this is your best opportunity to catch a carp on a fly. A tailing fish is so focused on the bottom, it enables you to throw the fly right at them without them spooking (this does not mean that your fly can make a noisy or splashy entry). Cast your fly in front of the fish and let your fly sink to the bottom; once there, give it a couple of slight strips to get the fishes attention. After pausing and watching your fly line, strip your fly. If your fly line starts to tighten give it a STRIP SET. It is very important to watch your fly line while fishing for carp, (as more often than not you will never feel a carp take your fly!!!). They like to take the fly between strips or when it is paused. Why the STRIP SET you ask? If you were to set the fly by lifting the rod…. ripping line off the water and the fish is not hooked, you just scared every fish within a country mile. So if you strip set and miss the fish, it gives you the opportunity to retrieve the fly and present again. In deeper water where you cannot see fish tailing, you might see a puff of mud rise from the bottom. This is a little more of a guessing game as to exactly where the fish is, but it does give us an idea of where to cast.
Hunters - Give you the next best opportunity to catch Maine carp on the fly. These are carp that are moving slowly along the shoreline and from time to time stop to pick something off the bottom. A carp that is milling about in shallow water is very spooky, so this is NOT a time to throw your fly at the fish. You must anticipate where the fish will be and have the fly waiting!!!!. I try to my anglers lead them by about 5 feet but will vary this depending on conditions. Once the fish is within a foot of your fly, give it a couple of quick strips trying to imitate a crawdad or baitfish that has been spooked out of his hiding place and trying to flee. Then let the fly settle back to the bottom like it is trying to hide again. If the carp turns towards the fly do nothing until you see him tail on it, then STRIP SET. If the carp does not turn towards the fly give a couple more strips and if still no luck retrieve and re-present the fly the same way. I will usually give a carp a couple good presentations before I give up and move onto the next fish. The best way to sum up this technique is to try to get the carp to feed or turn on the fly with his eyes and not his nose or sense of smell.
Cruisers - These guys are tough to catch as they are moving quick and deliberate. They seem as if they are late for a meeting and have some place to be. I think they are either heading for a place to rest or heading to another feeding ground. I tell my clients if they can get one of these carp to stop and eat, then they’ve made the perfect presentation. Here again you need to lead the fish in order not to spook them. I will try both a couple of strips and pause technique and if that does seem to make them stop and take notice, then I will try a steady quick strip retrieve. If the fish stops and turns for the fly, I stop the retrieve and let the fly settle like it is trying to hide and watch for the carp to tail on it. STRIP SET!
Laid Up - Well, I can’t describe this behavior any better than that. These guys will just not eat……they’re suspended and motionless. I think they’re just resting, napping and or sunning themselves to recharge their batteries. I usually find this behavior in the heat of the day and high tide hours. So this is a good time to Head home have a beer or take a nap yourself or better some evening striper fishing on the next falling tide.