Tenkara For Carp

Rigging up for a lesson in carpology.
     I didn't want to leave it behind, it seemed wrong somehow.  "Maybe I should just take it with me" I thought to myself.  No, this was a tenkara outing and I had to follow the rules.  The 8 weight would simply have to stay in the truck today.  You see, I was invited out to show Matt Sment how to catch a carp on a fly.  The difference between Matt and the other clients I've guided for carp on the fly is that Matt practices tenkara, an ancient form of Japanese fishing.  Tenkara is a form of fixed line fishing that was developed in the high mountain streams of Japan.  Matt enjoys tenkara so much that he co-founded the Badger Tenkara company.
     That's how I became involved in this story.  Last year Badger Tenkara loaned me some rods and asked me to test them out on some bigger fish.  I happily obliged and quickly broke the rods while out on the water.  It turns out this is a common theme with any piece of gear you loan me.  In the past I've been described as being very hard on my gear.  Combine that with a misunderstanding on how to set the hook and it was a recipe for disaster.  Still Matt had faith in me and promised he would teach me how to effectively work fish on such a short leash.  In exchange I would show him how to locate and target carp with a fly.
Look at all those carp in such a small area.
     Arriving at the first spot I cautioned him about how aware carp are of their environment.  He seemed surprised by this since carp are perceived by most as being a dumb trash fish.  Then it happened, as soon as we neared the bank the water was full of the tell tale wake of startled fish.  I could tell this was his first time to see so many carp.  "This pond is special" I said, "These carp will be back in a few minutes."  Carp coming back to the same spot is special because they release a pheromone in the water when they perceive danger.  This chemical trace warns other carp to clear the area and can shut down a spot you're fishing for hours.  For some reason though the carp in this pond usually ignore the warnings and come back to the spot relatively quickly.  We tried multiple flies and spooked a lot fish before deciding to move on to the next spot.  These carp just weren't in the mood to eat.  Luckily, Matt is an experienced angler and understands that you can't always catch the fish.
Matt making a cast towards the berry tree.
     After trying a couple different spots around town we finally found some fish that were willing to go along with the plan.  While working our way down the shoreline we stumbled upon one of my marked berry trees, and it was full of fresh berries.  For those not in the loop the berry season is for the carper what the crash is to the smallmouth bass angler.  It works likes this, the berries get ripe on the trees, fall into the water, and the carp go bat sh%t crazy over them.  Carp are easiest to catch during the berry season if you know where to find the trees and which flies to use.  As it turns out, I had some of my custom berry patterns tucked away in the fly box.  Matt tied one on and fired off a cast just like I had instructed.  That fly had barely hit the water when a nice common rose up and slurped it up.  It's like watching a trout rise to a mayfly.  Only it's better because well, it's a carp!
     Matt's tenkara rod loaded up instantly and then went slack.  The carp had broken him off.  He rigged up again with some heavier tippet and made another cast.  Soon he was hooked back up and after a quick struggle, the carp was gone again.  I asked him if it felt like he had hooked onto a freight train?  The look in his eyes gave me his answer.  The big fish feel really big when you put the screws to them.  They take off like a runaway train and all you can do is hold on and hope they stop.  This chain of events repeated itself over and over.  Despite constant hook ups we just couldn't keep the fish buttoned.  Finally, the sun was starting to set and I was running out of flies.  We decided to call it a day and began making our way back to the truck.  We discussed the days events and have already made plans to try again in the near future.  As a guide I always feel bad about not being able to put fish in the net, but I know it's gonna happen for Matt.  He's one of those anglers that isn't going to stop until he gets one.  Fly fishing for carp can be very hard and it's even harder with the fixed line of a tenkara rod.  Still I can't complain, the outing wasn't all bad..
It looks worse than it was, the fish swam away fine.  Seriously, their blood is designed to clot quickly in water.
     Tight Lines.

Comments

Featured In

Featured In