Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pity the poor carp (as under-rated as they come)

Monday evening caught my elder brother, Rich, and me on the Chagrin River.

We weren't after steelhead on this trip. Nope.
Instead, it was one of our several annual spring trips in search of the (lowly) common carp - perhaps fresh-water fishing's most under-rated sport fish.

Yes, you read correctly. Under-rated and sport fish along with lowly.

Fact is, we've been on the hunt for the biggest and baddest carp for several years now. We've taken brutes up to 40 and more inches in length. This is one introduced species that is given nothing but bad press, if any press at all.

Our bait of choice is Post's spoon-sized shredded wheat in honey and oats flavoring. It seems the honey coating helps keep the biscuit on better. Rich prefers a sliding sinker of around 1/2 ounce and a single hook.

My rig is a double shot of snelled hooks with a sinker of 3/8 to 1/2 ounce. Rich's set-up is better. I'm just too lazy to change.

We both, though, swear by braided line with BOTH hands on the wheel. We've eached lost rods and reels to fish that jerk the outfits from off the bank.

Our take for the evening was just one 26-inch carp; a poor showing though we believe the action will pick up as the water temperatures warms and the fish really get into their spawning mode.

Carp fight doggedly, not flashy. They don't jump but pull - and pull hard. Like a king salmon. Only often better.

One of the best books on the subject is "Carp in North America" by the American Fisheries Society. This $22 book features 84 pages and includes everything from biology and carp ecology to commercial and sport fishing for carp along with eating carp (Yep, with several unique recipes) as well as promoting carp through tournaments and the like. Among the recipes are smoked carp sausage and jerky, pickled carp, carp quiche, and chowder and chili.

Log on to the AFS's Web site for ordering instructions. Then go have some really outstanding fun with very limited competition.

Once sampled you'll be hooked on carp just as Rich and I have become. And some day I'm just going to have to try and catch a carp by using a fly rod.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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