Carp Hat Trick

While my wife was on a “girls gone mild” trip to celebrate a dear friend’s birthday (no, I am not allowed to say which one), I played bachelor for the weekend.

First on the agenda was doing some work with my church to work on a labyrinth and trails at a local park near my home. After a few hours of manual labor with some new friends, I headed home to prep for the afternoon fishing trip.

One of my great privileges is to serve as the president of the Guadalupe River chapter of Trout Unlimited. In keeping with the “all things are bigger in Texas” theme, ours is the largest chapter in the nation with around 5,000 members. One of the great joys in that role is the number of high quality people that it puts me in contact with. In our last chapter meeting we named a few very deserving members as honorary life members. One of those honorees was unable to attend, so I made plans to deliver her plaque to her house on the  Pedernales River . She was not there this weekend, but gave me permission to leave the plaque and enjoy the fishing from her property. Not wanting to offend by declining such an offer, I loaded my truck and headed west into the Texas Hill Country. I mean, I had a responsibility to uphold, right? It didn’t hurt that she mentioned the very large carp that she could see from her riverbank.

I caught several carp over the last two years while white bass fishing in the lower Colorado River. I was fishing a sink tip in deeper water, and the carp were happenstance catches. I enjoyed fighting the bruisers, but I felt like I hadn’t joined the ranks of “real” carp flyfishers, as my catches had been incidental.

Not that I hadn’t tried. A lot. My local creek has several pods of some seriously chunky carp. But no matter how stealthy I tried to be, I always seemed to spook them. I tried dressing in camo. I stayed out of the water. I used long leaders and light-as-I-dared tippet. But only once had I come close to hooking a carp.

I was beginning to think about using scented flies. Local fishing legend Joe Robinson (Piscatorial Absurdities) told me he didn’t care what Dave Whitlock said,  hill country carp didn’t act like the carp he wrote about catching up north…and the only way he knew to catch them was to soak your fly in corn juice. Joe and Dave used to work together years ago and are encyclopedic in their fishing knowledge (plus they are both as good of examples of humanity as you could ask for). I took the corn juice comment seriously, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

So I headed to the river to try once again to hook up with the notoriously spooky hill country carp.

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Best parking spot in the hill country

Carp were seen, but they were mainly cruising in deep holes, and uninterested in any fly I could get close.

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Here there be monsters…

 

But there were a few finned playmates…not big, but they were plenty spunky…

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Jim Gray’s Llanolope calls ’em up

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Matt Bennet’s Llano Critter was a big hit as well

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A chunky Guadalupe Bass, the state fish of Texas

So the sun set on a great day of fishing, but I remained carp-free. I was wiped out, but tomorrow was another day…

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Just wow…

Sunday afternoon I drove less than twenty minutes to get to a local river that has none of the notoriety of  other hill country streams. But I knew of a place that held carp. I had fished it before, and so I held little hope of catching one. However as I clambered down the bank, I immediately spied a pod of three carp mudding. I made two casts, the second landing within six inches of one of the carp. The fly disappeared in the muddied water, but from the body language of the fish, I thought it had taken my fly. I lifted the rod and was immediately rewarded with a cross river run.

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First sight fished carp on the fly

In the next 15 minutes, I hooked and landed two more carp, all on the same fly, making for my own carp hat trick…

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It might be time to try those Pedernales River carp again….

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