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Saturday, July 26, 2014

"The Thrill of Victory; and the Agony of Defeat"


North American Carp Angler

Three of the pictures my wife took at the Saginaw Carp Fishing Tournament earlier this year were included in the 2nd Quarter edition of the North American Carp Angler magazine.

Photo by Linda Pearcy

Photo by Linda Pearcy

Photo by Linda Pearcy

Common Courtesy is in Short Supply Sometimes

I'm going to get up on my soap box for a little bit this afternoon. The topic - fishing bank courtesy.

When I decide to fish on a Saturday or Sunday, I set my alarm clock and get up early. I even pack the vehicle with rods, reels, and supplies the night before. A fishing day is just like a work day, I'm up before sunrise.

This morning I arrived at Ford Lake in Ypsilanti Township a few minutes at 6 o'clock. I was the second car in the parking lot and that car was left over from the night before.

When I set up for carp fishing I fish with 3 rods, with either rod pods or bank sticks. Today it was bank sticks. I spaced them 13 size 11's apart to leave enough room to fight and land a fish without tangling my lines, but compact enough not to take up an unreasonable amount of bank space.

At 8 o'clock a big group of guys come in and set-up nearby. Eventually they put out 12 rods in total between 2 kids and 3 adults in their group. They started about 100 feet away from my position and started moving towards me down the bank. When he casted the 12th rod, it crossed over my right side line a little ways and I headed over and retrieved it. He said sorry and retrieved his line. No problem...it happens. I'm happy he's happy.

At 11 o'clock 2 more guys arrive with 3 more rods. They commence to set-up between my position and the guys with 12 rods. It turns out they all know each other. I tried to talk to them, but there was a communication barrier so I headed back to my lawn chair and waited.

They don't immediately start fishing. They assemble their rods, mix bait, bait up and then kick back for a while. They were using shrimp. I don't know the name of the rig, but it uses a sinker and then 3 separate hooks spaced about 4 inches apart leaving a bout a foot of line with 3 hooks below the sinker.

I'm wondering when they plan to make their casts because I'm anticipating trouble, but I decide to give them the benefit of the doubt and I wait patiently. After 30 minutes which includes 10 minutes talking to the guys with 12 rods one of the new comers makes his cast.

Predictably, it's right over the top of not only one; but two of my lines. I take a deep breath and calmly walk toward them calling out.

"I think you casted right over me."


"No I didn't."

Not an "I'm sorry" or "My mistake" nothing. No apology. He just turns around to his buddy and they continue talking like nothing happened. I am sure I had an incredulous look on my face, but I resisted the urge to say anything. Experience has taught me that it's not worth it, most of the time. Besides that, I was outnumbered 7 to 1.

I retrieved my far right rod.

Then the guy comes over and says again, "I don't why you're mad because I'm not anywhere near you."

I was steaming at this point, but decided to say nothing. I sat back down for a few minutes and calmed down. The last thing I'm going to do when I am trying relax spending a day fishing for carp is get into an altercation with strangers.

The guys continued on like nothing had happened and seeing that I'd pulled in my rod started moving their stuff toward me on the bank. Like a couple of bullies. Fishing bank bullies.

At this point I decided to leave.

One guy comes over and says, "You leaving?"


And he says, "Oh good then we'll fish your spot." They immediately turned their backs on me and casted out the other 2 rods right in front of me. One guy even tripped on my left rod and bank stick as he made his way down the bank into my spot.


So I calmly packed the rest of my stuff and left. But the two fishing bank bullies turned a nice day into a bad day with one cast and no apology.

I realized later as I walked back to the vehicle their intention all along had been to bully me into leaving so they could fish with their buddies.

Well, the solution to that is to get out of bed earlier. It's first come first serve at my house. But these guys don't roll like that apparently. My blood pressure is rising again just thinking about it.

I don't know if the two guys will ever read this, but if they do I hope it makes them realize the rudeness of their actions and maybe they won't do it again.

The day wasn't a total loss though because I did snap these two pictures:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Belle Isle - Lake Muskoday

I'm am back from Lake Muskoday on Belle Isle. We headed out about 6 a.m., drove the 34 miles to Belle Isle, arrived at 6:40 a.m., put the rods in about 7 a.m., fished for 6 hours, had 1 run, gave up and returned home. That was my day in a nutshell.

It was my first time fishing Lake Muskoday. I obviously fished the wrong spot because I have it on good authority that the carp fishing in that lake is usually pretty good. Here's a picture of our spot.

It was very foggy this morning with a 1 mph breeze that was barely distinguishable. The temp gauge registered 62 degrees as we drove into the parking lot.

We actually looked at a few other spots on Lake Muskoday, but decided they were too mossy and too far from the restrooms. I guess the joke's on us though because on the way out we saw several other carpers set-up in that mossy area. (I don't know if they were catching anything though.)

If I try Lake Muskoday again, I will probably try a different spot.

The only fish I fought today was a quick hit I got retrieving my final rod prior to packing up. I don't know if it was a carp or not, but it was B-I-G. It got hung up on a snag near the shoreline, so I didn't get a chance to see for sure.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Belle Isle Park

I am going to find out if the carp are biting at Belle Isle Park tomorrow. Lake Muskoday looks promising for a nice day of carp fishing. I've only been to the island one other time. I'm looking forward to seeing the changes now that it's essentially a Michigan State Park now.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Flavor Testing

A little guy
I've been fishing exclusively for carp during the last 12 months. Until last weekend I had always used a flavor dip on my hook bait immediately prior to casting. I used both pineapple and fruity flavored dips. Since I have always used them I was unsure whether not using them would cause my fish count to decrease.

For Sunday's session I omitted the dip flavoring in favor of a pineapple amino flavor spray. The spray is convenient and doesn't create the mess that the dip does, which is more of a syrup. But would it work just as well?

I caught 9 carp in 5 hours. The last time I fished that venue I caught 13 carp in 7 hours. The syrup flavor dip yielded 1.86 carp per hour of fishing. The spray flavoring yielded 1.8 carp per hour. I'd call that a very similar comparison.

The sample size is still relatively small. It would be interesting to do the same test over a time span of 24 hours or 100 hours of fishing and see if the ratios remain the same.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday Morning Fishing Session at Ford Lake

Today's fishing session got off to a slow start with some rain rolling through shortly after I put the lines in the water. Then the wind gusts started. Then the white caps and 2 feet rolling waves started hitting the shoreline.  Luckily, the carp didn't seem to mind.

We ended with 9 fish landed and a couple of others lost at the shoreline. The biggest fish was 19 pounds, which is good size for Ford Lake. The smallest was about 3 pounds (maybe even less I didn't weigh him). Here are the pictures:

19 pounds

15 pounds

12 pounds

10 pounds

12 pounds

8 pounds

13 pounds

This fish goes down in history as the smallest carp I've ever caught.
I didn't weigh it, but it couldn't be more than 3 - 4  pounds max.
Today I did quite a bit of testing throughout the session, but my biggest test was to stop the trend of hook pulls I was experiencing last weekend. At one point last Saturday I had 7 hook pulls in a row.

To make the testing as objective as possible I only changed one variable at a time. I started by loosening the front drag. I didn't change hook length or hair length. Loosening the front drag helped a lot.

Secondly, I eased up when fighting the fish. I simply picked up the rod, cranked it a couple of times and tightened the front drag keeping the rod tip upwards. Then I started the retrieve. That also seemed to work well. I lost 3 fish on a line of weeds about 30 feet from shore and another one that beached himself faster than we were able to get the net under him, but I only had one hook pull today. I feel much better about my fishing technique today.

I also tested using a longer hook length on a rod or two later on. I caught one fish on a 5 1/2" hook length, but all the bites and runs were coming on the 3 1/2" and 4" hook lengths today.

Sunday Carp Fishing

The vehicle's packed, but it's still a little rainy nearby my fishing spot. I am watching the weather radar as the rain makes it way here. The rain should be gone in a hour or so; then I'll be heading out for a day on the banks of my favorite carp lake.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Longer Hooklinks and Shorter Hair Rigs

Last weekend's carp fishing exploits didn't yield many fish. I hooked 7 fish at one point and lost them all to hook pulls. It's time to change it up a little because, although my current techniques using a 3 1/2" hook link and 1" inch hair rig length, yielded me 40 - 50 carp year-to-date 2014. The hook pulls are concerning. I received a tip from a fellow angler with more experience that in warmer weather sometimes a longer hook length and shorter hair rig length work a little better.

I am heading out for a early session tomorrow and tied up some rigs tonight to prepare. I tied up some rigs with size 6 hooks, 5 1/2" hook lengths and 1/2" - 5/8" hair rigs.

Those tips sound reasonable to me. Check back tomorrow evening to see how they worked. Hopefully I'll have plenty of pictures as evidence.

If you want to read more about hook lengths and hair rigs; and how they apply to carp fishing, the article from Big Carp News is a good source of information.

Carp Quest Video

Sometimes it can take awhile to get the carp biting, but when you do it can be rewarding. This angler was rewarded with a nice 18 pound common carp.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Detroit River Carp Fishing

We headed out to a spot on the Detroit River to catch some large carp today, but someone forgot to tell the fish. We had no carp hook-ups today. There were carp surfacing in the area near us, but none were interested in our Panko and corn. I offered up some boilies later in the day with no takers.

My wife snapped a few pictures near sunrise that turned out pretty well.

Sunrise on the Detroit River

Setting up for a day of carp fishing on the Detroit River near Trenton
First cast of the day
It was a beautiful day to be outside enjoying the river view. It was pleasant with a gentle breeze and sunshine all day. Too bad the carp didn't come to join the party.

My best carp from this spot is 12 lbs. but I know the Detroit River has more to offer. I'll keep trying this spot from time-to-time because I know it holds a lot of promise for a new personal best carp. I don't think 30 lbs. is out of the question at all. It's a big river, so I am sure it has some B-I-G carp just waiting to be caught.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Carp Fishing on Saturday Morning

7 - 8 pound carp caught at North Bay Park
After yesterday's fiasco at Belleville Lake, I decided to try another venue today. There were no boats running over my lines and no one throwing spinner baits to snag my braid. I hooked 9 fish today, but had several hook pulls along the way after short fights. I think I have a good idea what was causing it and will definitely correct that issue in future sessions.

My spot near a golf course located just off the wooden walking pier

Facing toward the main lake
I tried a couple of spots. In the early morning I had all three rods on the inner pond area facing the wooden walking pier. I caught one fish from that spot, but later switched to a spot facing the main lake. Fishing the main lake was much more productive for me.

Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4th Carp Fishing - Belleville Lake Michigan

Picture courtesy Michigan DNR web page
I haven't been able to fish for carp in 3 weeks time due to family commitments, so I couldn't wait to get out today and hit the bank.

I headed out to the Rawsonville Road Michigan DNR Boat Ramp. In the first 20 minutes of putting lines in the water I had 2 good carp runs and non-committal run that I feel sure was a catfish.

Things were just getting interesting when a pleasure boater sped away from the boat ramp close to shore and ran right over the top of my fishing lines. I am sure he was within 30 feet of the bank. Line started peeling of my middle rod at a fast clip. Luckily, I was able grab the rod before the boater pulled it into the water to save my $100 rod and $50 reel.

Near the Belleville Lake DNR boat launch

Not even 15 minutes later, a bass fisherman trolling nearby threw his spinner bait over two of my lines and snagged them. I am 100% confident he knew exactly where I was fishing. He was within 20 feet of the bank. When he untangled the lines he even had the nerve to act like it was somehow my fault! Unbelievable! That took the cake and we packed it in for today.

I hope I have better luck tomorrow at North Shore Park on Ford Lake.

A Point of Clarification

When people learn that I fish exclusively for common carp, they often levy criticism toward that activity. It's also one of the most frequent comments that I receive on this website from bow fishermen. I don't publish most of the comments because 99% of them are posted anonymously. I suspect that some folks are confused about what is and is not defined as "invasive species" here in Michigan as defined by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

I don't agree that common carp are an invasive species. Back in the 1800's when they were originally introduced to the United States, I might have considered them "invasive", but it's now 150 years later. At this point they are well-established throughout 48 states. I checked the Michigan DNR website to make sure "common" carp are not identified on the "invasive" list - they are not on the DNR list of "invasive" plants or animals. Here's a link to the page on the DNR site. That site does list various species of Asian carp that are considered invasive here in Michigan as follows:

•bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis)
•black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus)
•grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella)
•silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix)
•large-scale silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys harmandi)

Here is the link to that information.

The Michigan DNR actually tags and releases common carp back into Michigan waters while looking for Asian carp: Read about that activity here . While fishing on July 4th I had the opportunity to speak to a Michigan DNR officer about carp fishing, so I asked him whether they would expect common carp to be "destroyed" rather than returned to the water. He answered that returning common carp to the water is perfectly normal/acceptable. He spent 15 minutes asking questions about how we fish for carp and seemed to enjoy learning about carp fishing the way we do it. He agreed that more people should give common carp a chance as a sport fish.

Fishing for common carp is one of the fastest growing segments of sport fishing. If you want to catch big fish from the shoreline without a boat, give carp fishing a try.

When Asian carp are caught in Michigan, they should not be released back into the water. Read more at AsianCarp.us

What happens if I find an Asian carp?
Do not release the fish back into the water. If you catch or find an Asian carp in the Great Lakes or any of its tributaries, freeze the fish in a sealed plastic bag, note the date and location, and call your state or provincial natural resource agency. Note: if you are in Illinois on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the above instructions pertain to any Asian carp found above the electric barrier.

I hope this helps add some clarity to what the DNR currently classifies as "invasive" in the State of Michigan.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Holiday Weekend Carp Fishing Plans

I am planning out my weekend fishing schedule. I love three-day weekends. If I am lucky I can get in two carp fishing sessions -- one on Friday afternoon and then another on Saturday.

I can't decide between Detroit River, Ford Lake, Belleville Lake, and Sterling State Park. Since it's a holiday weekend boat and jet ski traffic will be heavier than normal, so Ford Lake is probably not a good idea -- not at my regular spot anyway. Belleville would be a little better at certain locations, but in spots boat traffic can be annoying there as well for a shore fisherman. Sometimes boaters don't realize how far out we cast for carp. I can cast 70-80 yards without any trouble.

My best carp from the Detroit River weighed 12 pounds last year and I'm convinced that 30 pound carp are quite possible from the river. I definitely need to fish there more this summer.

Hopefully I'll post up some pictures of big carp later this weekend. Check back!