Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012: Year of the Mirror Carp

I hit a number of milestones in 2012 in my carp fishing exploits.  They all all center around mirror carp.  I got my first 40 lber. in the spring, a beast of a fish that was the largest mirror caught in in the CAG national Big 4 contest and one of the biggest mirrors landed in the US this year.  That fish weighed 40 lbs., 8 oz. and was a recapture of a fish I had caught four years ago in MA waters when it weighed over 36 lbs. I also landed the first and only 30 lb. mirror carp ever officially recorded in RI.  That beast tipped the scales at 31 lbs., 8 oz. It is the currect CAG state record for mirror carp.  In addition, the numbers were there for me.  It is the only year in which I have been able to land well over 500 mirror carp. Compare that figure with only about 200 common carp that I landed in 2012.
For those who don't know what a mirror carp is, let me explain.  When most people think of carp, they think of common carp, those fish that have small scales in a predictable pattern and look like a large goldfish. Most of these commons look the same.  Mirror carp are really the same fish biologically (Cyprinus Carpio), however they are different both genetically and visually.  The name originates from their large shiny scales on smooth bodies that have some resemblance to a mirror although some mirrors are fully scaled with random scaling.  Many mirrors have irregular and patchy scaling making them unique in their looks and easy to identify leading many fishermen, especially in the UK, to give large specimens nicknames.  I know of some fishermen in New England who take side photos of their mirror carp and keep these pictures in photo books hoping to use these photos to identify recaptures.
Here in RI we have a unique mirror carp fishery and quite possibly the very best mirror fishery in the entire USA.  Way back at the turn of the century the Blackstone River system that runs from Worcester, MA to Pawtucket, RI was stocked heavily with mirror carp.  To this day they have thrived and populated the Blackstone as well as any body of water that runs off it.  They have also turned up in just about every pond and lake that has carp in RI, though they are rare in many places other than the Blackstone River system.
I've caught some big ones this year and big numbers of mirrors mainly because I target them.  In my mind they are the most unique fish in RI's freshwater, and that's why I pursue them.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Icing Means End of Pond Fishing

I got out on my bike this morning checking out a few places in northern RI.  There was ice all over, especially in the small ponds. This means the end of pond fishing for carp. Hey, it's late December and you just knew it was coming.  With the weather forecast calling for cold weather for the next week as well as snow, it appears the ice will stay, at least for a little while. While icing has knocked out the ponds, carp fishing is still available in moving water in the rivers of southern New England.  You'll have to do a lot of looking to find the spots where they are holding, but they will hit if you can find them.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Still Biting

Yes, I am still catching! I got out this afternoon in this 50 degree weather for a couple of hours and landed 4 carp.  They were three mirrors and one common.  I've said many times that the winter weather greatly affects carp fishing.  A warm-up comes along and they hit; a downturn in temperature follows and they develop lockjaw.  Just a week ago skim ice was forming on many of the ponds around the northern part of the state.  That shut down the carp fishing for several days.  However, in the last few days we have seen a rise in temperature with some rainy weather and warm nights above freezing.  That has lit up the carp fishing once again.
In addition to the weather, you need to find the places where the carp 'bunch up" in the wintertime.  That takes a great deal of time, effort and blanking to find those places.  I will tell you that those productive winter spots are easier to find in small bodies of water.  Once found, sweet corn is the ticket as far as bait.  Chum a bit and put a couple of kernels on the hair rig and you are ready for winter action.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Fly Fishermen....Free Carp Magazine Will Astonish You

If you are a fly fisherman, any type of fly fisherman, you have to check out the latest issue of US CARP PRO magazine, a free online publication at The entire magazine is devoted to fly fishing and it will tell you EVERYTHING you need to know about fly fishing for carp from techniques to equipment to flies. 
Here's a shocker for all you Trout Unlimited types out there who think that trout are the only fish to pursue with the fly rod.  According to fly fishing industry experts, "Carp are the fastest growing segment in the (fly fishing) industry. "
Here's another shocking quote from Tom Rosenbauer, director of marketing for Orvis.  "Most of us (at Orvis) prefer carp fishing over trout fishing." WOW!
The whole country is jumping on the carp fishing bandwagon, whether it's bait fishing or fly fishing.  Unfortunately, it isn't happening that way in RI though we have had a slow but steady growth here.  Of course, when you have a DEM that labels carp as an invasive species and you have officials from the DEM saying they'd like to kill every one of them, you get a pretty good idea of the attitudes around here.  And, this comes from a state where we have arguably the best mirror carp fishing in the ENTIRE country.
I was fishing a section of the Blackstone River last week.  As I was walking to my spot, I passed two fly fishermen who were trying for trout.  I'm guessing the best they could hope for would be maybe a 12-14 inch trout.  But, they hadn't caught anything that day.  I walked about half a mile up the river and fished there for carp.  My score for the day was nine carp up to 10 lbs., and these would be considered small for RI.  Get these fly rod guys to catch a ten pound carp and they would be hooked for life. No one is fly fishing for them here in RI.  It is virgin territory waiting to be explored.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On a December Roll

Credit this beautiful weather with lighting up the December carp fishing here in RI. In the last week I have experienced some of the best December fishing that I have ever seen.  Yesterday I was out in the warm, rainy weather and landed 9 nice fish (combination of mirrors and commons) that went up to 13 lbs.  Today I blanked in the morning but landed four mirrors in the afternoon (see photos of today's fish).  All the fish have been taken on Stop and Shop Value corn fished on the hair rig. I'm still having my best luck without method.  How long this December roll will last is anyone's guess.  However, as long as the ponds and rivers remain ice free I will continue fishing.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sweet Corn/No Method Way to Go in Winter

I had yet another real good day of carp fishing today.  The weather was on my side with warm temperatures last night and above average warmth today.  It was the ticket to getting the carp in a feeding mood.  It worked as I landed 6 carp in just a few hours.  I had three mirrors and three commons that ranged from 5-13 lbs. (see pic of one of them at right).
A bait pattern is emerging from my last two good outings that yielded a total of 11 fish.  Nearly all the fish were taken on sweet corn on the hair rig with no method.  As many of you know, I am a big fan of using method mix, and I use it just about all the time during spring, summer and fall.  But, once winter comes along that big offering of bait does not seem to turn them on.  In the last two outings, I tried to bait up one outfit with just sweet corn on the hair rig.  The other outfit had the sweet corn plus the oatmeal based method packed around the sinker.  Of those 11 fish I caught, 9 of them went for the offering with no method.  I have seen this same thing happen in past winters where the method seems to be a turn off.  Maybe the carp are just looking for a smaller offering as their feeding activity decreases greatly in the cold water.
One more note here....the inexpensive Stop and Shop Value sweet corn continues to score just as well as the expensive pineapple flavored Pescaviva.  Because of that, I will probably be fishing the rest of the winter with the Value sweet corn.  Maybe the Pescaviva  makes a difference in the spring, but right now it doesn't seem to matter which sweet corn you are using.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

700th Carp for 2012

When I logged in my fish last night in my logbook I realized I had landed my 700th carp of 2012. It was a good looking 13 lb. common.  That fish was landed on Dec. 5.  Last year I landed my 700th carp of the year on Dec.7 so the years seem to be running very similar.  Last year was my best year ever in terms of numbers as I ended the year with exactly 738 carp according to my logs.  With a little luck and a hot streak, I might just reach that number again this year.  However, for that to happen, the weather will have to remain warm and the ponds ice free.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hot Fishing Today

In the previous post I said that a big opportunity to catch December carp was coming here in RI.  Well, it got here today.  After three frustrating days of getting blanked at various spots, I hit it big today as I landed 5 decent size carp from 10-15 lbs. in a place I hadn't fished in a long time. Today's fish were a combination of commons and mirrors.  Of course, the key to my success was the warm weather of the last few days and more importantly the fact that the temperature only dropped to 50 degrees last night.  That spurt of warm weather got the carp in high gear and feeding on this December day.  They were active as each fish went on a screaming run on the take, grabbing my sweet corn offering as if it were the only meal they've seen in weeks.  They were also good fighters, ripping out drag as if these fish were being caught on a warm May day. So,  this roller coaster weather  is supposed to be cold tomorrow which will certainly cool off the fishing, but after that it looks like another window of opportunity will occur early next week as we are heading for temperatures in the 50's once again. If you want to catch carp in the winter, jump on those windows of opportunity when the weather warms. It really worked for me today!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Opportunity Coming Next Week

I can look at the weather report and tell you that opportunity will come knocking next week.  After today's snow and cold weather departs, the warm-up will begin tomorrow.  We are looking at a string of four days of temperatures over 50 degrees.  More importantly, nighttime lows are supposed to remain way above freezing.  Carp will use these warm-ups as an opportunity to feed in the wintertime.  I've seen this all play out many times in past years.  It can be cold with no activity and a big warm-up suddenly gets the fish in gear and feeding as if it were a spring day.  So, next week could possibly be your last good shot to catch a carp in 2012 here in RI.  Get out fishing if you can.