Fly fishing for carp has opened up a lot of fishing opportunities in a region I am otherwise quite limited in without owning a boat. After several years of plying my craft in local rivers, creeks, lakes, and ponds I began looking elsewhere to satisfy my urge for freshwater ghosts. I found it in an unlikely place I had written off from simple turbidity. There was no way I would see and be able to sight fish for carp in the brackish tidal creeks along the coast. I was wrong…
A simple kayaking trip with the girlfriend brought me to a tidal creek where I thankfully brought along a rod and some carp flies. After several hours of paddling and staring into chocolate milk I came upon a backwater bay where a large shadow caught my eye along some pads. As fly fishermen, we are haunted by images and this particular one was unmistakably my favorite species on fly.
My first tidal carp was feeding so aggressively the water looked like it was boiling. I meandered to within 20 ft. when the common stopped feeding and ascended in the water column. I tried to stay calm as I casted a sucker spawn a few feet in his feeding zone, but my knees began to shake. As the carp lurched forward and took my fly, I didn’t let out a yell of adrenaline, I kept it in, knowing full well I’d have to stay focused on the task at hand.
After landing my first tidal carp, I realized that there was plenty of potential to be had. However, I had my work cut out for me. After a few more outings, I discovered tidal carping to not only be the most variable carping experience I ever had, but also the most challenging. However, with challenges came great rewards and with each slab of carp I landed and admired, the more confident I got at the new scenarios. My outings coincided with the tides and the weather. If I didn’t have sun and a tide, I couldn’t fish. This made it incredibly difficult to time everything right and make it work. After a few all day kayaking trips into spots during bad weather days, I was left without even seeing a fish. In other words, I learned quick.
I found tidal carp to be akin to a bonefishing, permit, or a redfish skinny water experience. Parking my SUP on a muddy tidal flat, I was able to watch packs of 10-20 lb. carp cruise into the shallows with the incoming tide and quickly spread out on the prowl. Conversely, on an outgoing tide, they would line up in the current and ravenously feed. My mind was officially blown.
With my discovery coming late in the summer, my tidal carping season was over before I had a chance to fulfill some of my goals, like landing that forty pounder that looked like a golden keg of beer with fins. As for now, my carping season is over and I am left haunted by the giants I have yet to catch and a long wait until the cold loses its grip, the waters warm, and the carp get active again.
I cannot wait.
Elevation is key…
My Preferred Carp Setup:
Loop Opti River 798-5, Opti Strike, Opti V5 line…