Saturday, January 8, 2011

Diversify Your Carp Pattern Portfolio: Seek and Destroy

When I can find it my favorite carp is an aggresive carp.  By that I mean a carp that takes hard and aggresively on the strip.  Coaxing a tailing carp to slurp up a perfect presentation or charge a foot forward and pick up a twitched fly IS extremely gratifying...but so is getting your shit hammered on the strip.
Enter the most ultra aggresive carp feeding pattern.  "Seek and Destroy".  And yes Metallica should be ringing through your skull right now.

WHAT IS SEEK AND DESTROY:
Carp in Seek and Destroy appear to be a lone cruiser or even a fish just moving up onto a flat.  Watch a little closer and there is a sense of menace to their movements.  Have you ever seen a Discovery Channel show with a shark cruising the flats?  The move purposefully yet erraticly.  Head sweeping too and fro, subtly changing direction every couple of feet in a search for food.  That IS seek and destroy, and Carp do it sometimes too!

WHERE TO FIND IT:
First off this behavior is probably regional to a high degree.  I will keep on this theme in this blog....CARP ARE NOT CARP.  Their behavior varies dramatically between regions and different bodies of water.  It was certainly much more common in Michigan than Colorado.  Why?  That is a good question, I will let you know if I ever figure that out.  That being said I have finally found it here in CO, but it took allot more work.  10 times as much work. 

Some notes on conditions in which I have found Seek and Destroy behavior.  I am not saying these are the only conditions, just the ones I have witnessed.
  • In clean water on the edges of active carp-muds with a distinctive mud-line.  I think these fish are cruising the mud-line looking for stuff coming out.
  • I think that the presence of hex-nymphs in MI (sometimes called fish-flies) increases the odds considerably.
  • think it has a relationship to the size of body of water.  I have yet to see it in a pond, only a couple of times in small lakes, a little more in bigger lakes and quite a bit in Lake St. Claire. 
  • Clear water is very helpfull.  This seems to be a visual feeding mode and it is also a visual fishing mode.
  • I have seen it on the edges of rip-rap dams mixed with an occasional dip of the head into brief tailing.  I think they are actively hunting crayfish.
  • It certainly seems to occur more in the spring and early summer where most carp I have fished tend to be more aggresive anyways.
HOW TO FISH:
I like flies with action for this mode.  The MMF clouser, Jaimee's Krazy Carper and Hex Nymphs have accounted for all my Seek and Destroy fish.  I suspect a larger backstabber would work great as well.  And it may possibly be true that anything in the sizes / colors that carp favor will work just as well, this is not the most technically challenging feeding mode. 

Allot of the carp I catch are on a rather short-line.  I suspect that is true for many people.  Do you dream of bombing 50 to 70 foot casts stripping twice and getting hammered like some stud on a casting deck in a cheesy fishing video in exotic Nevada, Idaho or MI?  Me too.  I suspect these are your fish.

First of all there is absolutely no reason to land the fly close.  These fish are on the hunt and on the move...why risk spooking them.  Secondly these fish are not fixated on the bottom like a tailer can sometimes be and are usually in clear water.  This means you need to be further away to not spook them.  Not necessarily 70 feet, but not 10 either.

If possible I like to be in front of the carp's current path.  Then you quarter it's path with a cast and strip the fly to intercept.  This works sometimes for casual cruisers as well, although you have to intercept casual cruisers much closer and pay more attention to the depth of the fly because they will not charge the fly, or at least not as far.  In seek and destroy the fly can be 3 to 4 feet or even further in front of the carp when it crosses the carp's path!  I once had a fish charge at least 9 feet for a hex-nymph while putting up a wake, all at my pathetic 70 foot casting range.  It may be my favorite fishing moment.

Now for the strip.  You will see allot of mention on the internet of short slow 2" strips for carp.  That has it's place, just not here.  Seek and Destroy is an aggressive mode, your strip needs to match and there is no need for the fly to hug bottom.  Do not go overboard and throw down a Pike retrieve, but certainly a nice rythmic 6 to 8" strip.  If you have truly found a fish in Seek and Destroy mode the charge may be long and it will be aggresive.  Do not strike early and a small strip strike or even just keeping hold of the line is all that is required. 

So this mode may not be available, or at least rare where you live.  Or maybe you are one of the lucky ones.  Regardless, keep an eye out for it and for goodness sake don't tell your local fly-shop where you found it - unless you want to see camera crews and carpin seminars in your favorite new spot.  Been there, done that.

Anybody else hear Mettalica riffs right now?   SEEK AND DESTROY.

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