5 Tips for Early Carp on the Fly Success

     As the seasons change and winter loosens its grip on the Midwest a lot of fly anglers turn their attention back to the water.  I'm no different here in southern Wisconsin, so I thought I would offer a few tips to help my fellow anglers in their pursuit of the "Golden Bonefish."

1. Find Warm Water
This is hands down the best tip I can give as we head into spring.  Warm water normally equates to active fish.  Since most fish are poikilothermic (cold blooded) they need the warmer water to get moving.  You can normally find warmer water near discharges, in small ponds, or over shallow sandy bottoms.  If you can find water with a noticeable temperature increase that is holding carp, then you've probably found some feeding fish.

2. Stalk Slowly/Blend In
Remember that these fish have been sheltered by the ice all winter.  Carp are easily spooked first thing in the spring.  Wear muted natural colors as you approach the water.  Look for cover to hide behind whether it's a bush, a tree, or even a park bench.  Carp are normally pretty sluggish this time of year, but they will leave in a hurry if they see something out of place.

3. Downsize Your Flies
Early spring food options can be a little scarce.  Turn to smaller sizes of your favorite carp patterns.  Nymph and worm patterns are surprisingly effective when the water is cold.  Just remember that the bait is moving as slow as the predator so keep your stripping to a minimum.  I also normally leave my crayfish patterns at home until the water is in the mid forties.  My local carp just don't seem interested in a big meal right after the ice leaves the lake.

4. Light Leaders and Delicate Tippets
In my neck of the woods the water is clearest right after ice out.  This clear water makes it a lot easier for the carp to scrutinize your presentation.  Although I normally fish 0x tippet throughout the summer months, I'll go as light 3x in the spring.  Just remember to adjust the force of your strip set accordingly.  Otherwise you may find yourself unintentionally popping a few fish off when setting the hook.

Everything moves a little slower when it's cold outside, myself included.  Make deliberate casts and really choose your shots.  Lead the fish by a few more feet than needed and let the fly linger in the water a bit longer.  You'll certainly notice that the fish don't seem to be in any hurry when working the bottom.  It's a patience game when it comes to spring carp on the fly.  I promise though that the effort is worth it.
     Tight Lines.

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