The first time I saw a tidal carp looking like it was trying to do a headstand, as his tail was up and head down deep happily eating what ever he or she was tuned into for that tide I knew I found somthing that fit my angling style!! watching and wishing my 17 ft flats skiff was about half the size and half the draft, what was even better was how close this fishing is to my house, as the crow flys just 5 miles separates great striper flats of casco bay to the tidal carp fishing that has lent itself to so many fun tides over the years. Learning over time One of the most common misconception about carp fishing is that it is easy. It isn’t. People assume that all you need to catch carp is a piece of corn and that nothing that ugly could be difficult to trick. Fortunately, this second belief is just as flawed as the first. Carp are, in all likelihood, the spookiest, trickiest, smartest fish found in the fresh waters of the United States,The splash down it takes to cast most lures is a waste of time !!! The phenomenally sensitive mouths equipped with chemically receptive cells which allow the carp to distinguish food from foe in an instant are not a fan of rubber fish or for the most part any cast-able artificial, this is wear the soft presentaion of a well presented fly is about the only artificial that works!! In addition, carp actually have nostrils, small holes near the eye sockets which flush in water and allow the carp to sample its surroundings. Once spooked,a carp emits an alarm pheromone which alerts other carp to the danger. Thus, one shot is often all you get, and making the fly approach about the only way not to spook the crap out of them and light tackle with live bait a waste of time on the skinny water flats even in waters where the carp experience little to no fishing pressure.
What with the name calling????
They have been called everything from golden bones to freshwater reds, I have even herd the the them compared to tarpon?? that one does make much sense to me because they really don't eat or act anything like a tarpon other then laying up but unlike like laid up tarpon the tidal carp don't eat when they are laid up and sunning..I feel they are more like a big redfish in diets and the smarts of a double digit Bonefish!! The best thing about carp fishing in a tidal ravine like we have here in Maine is the availability of fish in some real skinny water!! Carp have been swimming in these Maine waters sense 1879 and learning something new on every tide is half the fun...
I was first introduced to these tidal carp after telling a angling friend about how we would chase these carp on the sandflats near Portland Oregon where the sandy river dumped into the Columbia in-between trout and steelhead seasons, I though this was unique because the of tide effect on the Columbia river system until you hit the first dam and how they acted totally different then the carp we would fish for on the sand flats near Traverse City Michigan in the late eighties, he was also a duck Hunter and told stories of these carp working the flats near his hunting grounds. We tried canoes followed by johnboats with poling platforms then in 2006 I ordered a standup Paddle-Surfboard and would be able to really get good shots in some skinny water. I could not shake these tidal carp, and like permit or big redfish on the flats a team effort works the best, In 2007 I quietly started to offer carp trips on the fly and anglers became hooked there was one or two other guide doing it and a small crew of core local fly anglers, Over the years we have shared stories tides and flies but we have only seen each other on the water once and that was at the boat ramp, just how I like it!!!! Well over time came success and with it the word spread and this year guys are jumping on carp guide bandwagon??? for anglers in the know they understand this is a fishery where you really have to put in some time... and in 2010 I invested in the lightest technical poling skiff I could find- my 850 lb 17 ft action craft Flats skiff was not working out, sure we could half ass it,but with the new skiff we now can make the most out of the tides and give you the angler more shots and with it success with carp on the fly!! and remember the beauty in these fish is in the challenge!!!!!
Tools For a Challenging Fishery
The tools for catching carp Have Been largely developed by Saltwater fly anglers over the past decade or so. Although blind fishing is an option, the thrill of catching carp is in the stalk on the flats just as it is with redfish and bonefish, so I focus on sight-fishing alone.
Most modern saltwater lines are merely adequate for carp fishing, which often demands trout-like presentations with larger food sources. Avoid bass and other tapers which might turn a fly over too aggressively. Use tapered leaders at least as long as the rod,more like 11 ft or longer but use the strongest leader material you can get away with. Ten pound fluorocarbon is my usual tippet, Carp will skim across the flooded flats seemingly at random, sometimes holding in predictable patterns and sometimes meandering about. Usually they are looking for food, which they attack by hoovering up the sediment and filtering out crustaceans, plant matter, and bugs. Just as a bonefish puffs away at the bottom, so will a carp root for his dinner. In deeper water, carp will sip on debris lines just like trout, picking mayflies, or seedpods off the surface with an audible slurp, here you will have to drop down to 3x or lighter just to get the eat and often the shock of there power stuns the angler and they brake off,on the first run.