Barbs and Backlashes

Some observations, June 28, 2010 by whitetips
June 28, 2010, 3:02 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: , ,

I do not have a lot to report, but a few thoughts floating around in my head–time for a quick blog post.

I know this will entirely ruin what little reputation I had, but I did not spend much time on the water last week.  Between the high and dirty water, hot and humid weather and other activities, I did not take the time.  I promise, I will spend at least a little time on the water someplace this week.  I do know that we are moving into the middle of summer and fishing success usually takes a dip during July and August.  I had some thoughts about that last summer, and you might want to go back and take a look, .


We had another successful Carp-O-Rama event at Pawnee Reservoir west of Lincoln last Saturday.  First of all, I want to say a big THANK YOU to all the folks who volunteer to help at this event every year and to all of those who donated prizes, products, food, drink, etc.  Basically we just have fun with this event and I hope the folks who came out had fun too!  You can see some reports on the fishing along with some photos here, .

Besides being an avid fisherman myself, I have observed a lot of anglers over the years.  I can tell you that on any given day within a bunch of anglers fishing the same body of water there will be some who catch fish and others who will not.  Usually the difference between those who are successful and those who are not comes down to some seemingly inconsequential little detail.  It could be some little presentation detail, bait, rigging, equipment or just the right location, being right on the “X” where the fish are feeding.

I know some of you will think I am crazy, and I know that the brain of a common carp is still only the size of the end of your little finger, but carp have demonstrated that they are one of the “smartest” fish that swim in our waters.  It got busy at Pawnee on Saturday; there was a lot of traffic and a lot of folks fishing.  You can be sure that it did not take the carp long to notice all the activity and that made them harder to catch.  I will always tell you that the K.I.S.S. principle is the best place to start–Keep It Simple, Stupid–but sometimes you have to go beyond the simple corn-on-a-hook-sinker-on-the-bottom to something more technical, more advanced.  Carp feed by sucking baits in and blowing them out; they suck and blow to sort the food from bottom debris.  While they are sucking and blowing they can detect that an angler’s presentation is not something they want to eat.  The guy sitting on the bank sees something “playing” with his line, but it never picks it up enough for a hook up.  When that happens, it may be time to “kick it up a notch”.

Did you know that carp have teeth?  In fact they have teeth located at the back of their throats that look something like the molars in the back of your jaw! When feeding, carp suck food items clear into the back of their throats where they use their pharyngeal teeth to crush food items.  When they do that they can taste and feel the texture of potential food items and they will reject something that does not seem natural to them.  Hardcore European carp anglers have developed what they call a “hair rig” that is the perfect presentation considering the biology and behavior of the carp.

Basic hair rig baited with corn.

Do a search on the internet for “hair rig” and you will get more ideas than you know what to do with, but this one rig is like fishing a rubber worm or spinnerbait for bass anglers–absolutely fundamental!  If you want to catch lots of carp you should be using it, or something similar to it.  One final tip–tie your hair rigs with braided lines, something soft and supple.  Remember as a carp sucks and blows your bait it can feel textures.  If it feels a hard leader made of monofilament or fluorocarbon it will be more likely to reject the presentation.  A soft, supple line used for the leader, for the hair rig, feels natural and will not be expelled.

While you are doing your search, look up “bolt rig” too.  Used in conjunction with a hair rig, a bolt rig will increase your hook ups and you will catch more carp.  Basically a bolt rig uses a relatively heavy sinker that is fixed to the line or only allowed to slip along the main-line for a short distance.  When a carp sucks up the bait and then turns to move away it feels the heavy wet and spooks.  With a hair rig that carp has the bait in the back of its throat and the hook positioned right near the “lips”, and as it “bolts” away from the heavy sinker it automatically hooks itself.  I know, one would think a slip-sinker rig would work better, but it does not.

Anyway, there is a ton of carp fishing material on the internet.  Do some searches and read through some of it and you will see what I mean by important little details that can make a huge difference.  And I promise I will have more thoughts on little details that make a big difference for a variety of other species; today I have carp on the mind following Carp-O-Rama, and carp fishing made for a great example.

Speaking of carp . . .

I know some of you are reading this and thinking “brother, too much fuss for nothing more than a stinkin’ carp” (or maybe those with that attitude have quit reading before now?).  I will tell you that if I could wave a magic wand and all of the exotic carp species, including common carp, would be gone from North America, I would do it in a heart-beat.  Done.  Gone.  Our fisheries would be better off without them.  And I will tell you that as fisheries managers we will continue to manage common carp in many instances by attempting to kill every last one of them.  But, the fact of the matter is we have common carp; have had them for well over a hundred years now, and probably will always have them.  No, they are not as good on the table as yellow perch, walleyes, catfish, crappies or bluegills, but they can be eaten and if prepared right can be darned good.  No, it is not my goal to convert everyone into carp anglers.  I will confess that you will not catch me fishing for carp very often.  But, you WILL catch me as a proponent of fishing for a variety of species of fish; they are all fun to catch and all unique and valuable in their own right, yes, even stinkin’ carp.

Practice makes perfect

I am convinced that a lot of big fish are lost because folks have no idea what to do when they finally hook that “big one”.  Big fish are hard to catch; they are rare and most anglers never encounter enough big fish to practice catching them.  I have the perfect solution for that–go carp fishing!  The average size of common carp you can catch from most waters will be as large or larger than the big fish of most other more desirable sport fish species.  If you get into some truly big carp, you can catch fish as big as anything that swims in our fresh waters.  A day of carp fishing is an excellent way of testing out your tackle on big fish and practicing your fish catching skills.  Think about it, what better ideas are there?  Tying your fishing line to the family dog?

Will you be ready for "the big one"?


1 Comment so far
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Emeril Lagasse or Rachael Ray needs to create a recipe that would make carp taste as good as halibut or walleye then the fisherman could put them on the endangered specie list. Carp are fun to catch but not very good on the table. Hopefully carp fisherman do not practice catch & release.

Comment by Ron Fry

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