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Saturday, November 29, 2014

My Favorite Fishing Spot for Carp Fishing

I can't wait for days like this one to return next spring.

Koi Pictures

If I can't fish for carp because it's too cold, I guess I can peruse pictures I took when the weather was a little warmer.

Koi at Belle Isle

Koi Close Up

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Trakker EQ 42" Carp Landing Net

My struggles to find a reliable carp landing net are well documented on the Michigan Carp Blog. I've also written about it extensively on the CarpAnglersGroup.com forums.

Few things in carp fishing are more important than the landing net, but it's the weak link for most beginners starting to catch carp. It's understandable. Carp fishing isn't cheap. It takes different equipment to land 12 - 15 pound carp than it does to catch 1 - 2 pound bass and crappie; and that equipment isn't something you can pick up at the typical discount big box store around the corner.

Many online store fronts selling carp equipment have a "budget" landing net for sale in the $30 - $40 price range. I've bought those and others up to $70 and they didn't get the job done for me.

My next carp net is going to be the Trakker EQ 42" carp landing net pictured below.

From Trakker Products the 42" EQ Landing Net

Selling for around $130 it's outside of the low budget price point, but it could actually save you money, time and frustration in the long run. Buying quality never goes out of style either.

Basic Carp Fishing Gear on a Budget

This time of year a lot of the fishing equipment web sites place items on sale that offer the opportunity to save some money. Whether for Christmas promotions, clearance, inventory reduction or a last ditch effort to implore some who haven't quite been able to pull the trigger on a purchase due to the various price points it really doesn't matter because it's a nice opportunity to pick up some of the basic equipment to help you get started fishing for someone more experienced to accumulate some gear to get a spouse or child started out in carp fishing.

There are a lot of opinions about what is "basic" gear. My basic might be a $40 reel and $40 rod, but there are others who believe a "basic" rod and reel cost upwards of $300. The list below is my suggestion and my opinion for how to started carp fishing with a minimal cash outlay.

LW 60 reel for $24.95
Black Phantom Classic rod for $29.25
GSP Black Alarm for $18.95
Unhooking Mat for $14.95
40" Landing Net for $39.95

For approximately $220 plus shipping, you can have two rods, two reels and two bite alarms and the basic items needed to catch, land and release carp effectively. I picked items that are all available from www.bankfishingsystems.com so that you only have to pay for shipping once. You can mix and match from different sites, but you will need to take shipping into consideration.

Of all the items on the list, the weakest link is the landing net. A quality landing net is essential to ensure that carp are landed and released with the least amount of stress for the fish. But I will offer a warning - you will need to be careful with the landing net and pick up the fish by-the-net and not by-the-handle. If you don't you will have a high probability of breaking the net the first time or two you use it and then you will have started your new hobby off with a huge disappointment. (I speak from personal experience on this topic.)

For slightly more money, you might opt for a Wychwood Signature 36" landing net priced at $81.49, a Sonik SKS 42" two piece landing net for $94.95 or a Trakker 42" EQ landing net for $120.99. (If I buy a new landing net at some point, I am going to buy the Trakker model.)

Lastly, I'd suggest buying a few cans of flavored corn/maize from either World Classic Baits or K-1 Baits. A can of the flavored corn will last you for 4 or 5 weeks of fishing easily. You don't have to re-bait with new corn every time you cast. I've caught multiple fish on the same few kernels of corn many different times.

  • Keep a lid on it.
  • Keep it out of the direct sunlight.
  • Refrigerate when storing the corn at home.

It will last several weeks this way and you won't need to keep purchasing more and paying more shipping costs.

Whatever items you decide to purchase, please try to relax and have fun learning a new hobby. I hope you find it as enjoyable as I do!

If I can help you in any way, just ask.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

New Sonik Carp Fishing Reels

Update 11/22/14 : UPS delivered the reels 3 days after I placed the order at Carp Kit International.

I have been shopping for new reels for a few months. I started carp fishing with some inexpensive Okuma ABF-50's. I used them for two seasons and decided to move up to something a little better. I considered the Okuma Trio and Epixor. I like Okuma a lot, but I was hoping for something a little better.

Many may wonder why I didn't consider Shimano or Daiwa. I have nothing against either brand. Shimano is out of my budget range and most everyone I know has Daiwa reels, so I wanted something different.

Carp Kit International had a promotion today for 20% off all reels. I took advantage and purchased 3 of the Sonik 6000 FS bait runner reels. Here's a description from the website:

A superb new bait-runner style reel, with a super smooth trouble free operation and sleek black cosmetics. Supplied with two spools, they feature S-curve Oscillation for even line lay, instant anti-reverse, front and rear drag, balances twin handles, thick Aluminium black bail arm, Titanium coated anti-twist line roller and a 4.6:1 gear ratio, which recovers a full 87cm/34 inch of line per turn of the handle.  
  • 5+1 Stainless Ball Bearings
  • High Strength Composite Body/Rotor
  • Instant Anti-Reverse
  • S-Curve Oscillation for even line lay
  • Line Recovery Per Turn of Handle - 34inch/87cm
  • Balanced Rotor
  • Balanced Twin Handle
  • Titanium coated
  • Anti-Twist Line Roller
  • Thick Aluminium black bail arm wire
  • Free spool feature
  • Sensitive sealed drag
  • Gear ratio 4.6:1
  • Supplied with 2 graphite spools, capacity of mm/m 0.30-460 0.35-340 0.40-260/lbs/yds 15-375 18-340 22-225.
  • Reel Weight - 460g
Sonic 6000 FS photo courtesy CarpKitInternational.com
I got 3 reels for $258 with shipping included. The Epixors would have been $220 and change with shipping included.

Now I just need to spool them up with some Power Pro braid.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Huroc Park Flat Rock Michigan

I was tempted to fish today. The sunshine was almost too good to pass up, but with 34 degrees and wind I couldn't pull the trigger on it. So I did the next best thing...I went scouting for carp fishing spots to try next spring.

A lot of people I know fish the Huron River in Flat Rock for carp. I haven't tried it, but it's on my list for next year.

Here are a few pictures I took today:

A view from near the dam

A likely fishing spot with acceptable space for landing fish

A view toward to dam from the bridge over the Huron River
Huroc Park is the Huron River Community Park in Flat Rock. There are always several people fishing. The 34 degree temperatures didn't deter the 8 - 10 people fishing this area today throwing spinner baits into the fast moving water just past the bridge as it falls over another smaller dam.

I have no idea how deep it is up toward the dam, but I've seen plenty of videos on YouTube that demonstrate this area has a plentiful supply of average sized carp available.

Friday, November 14, 2014

My Lessons in Carp Fishing Supplies

I'm sure many who are just starting to learn about carp fishing make many of the same repeatable mistakes I did in the beginning. Having some experience fishing for bluegill, bass and catfish in farm ponds as a teenager, I had no idea what type of equipment that I would need to consistently land 10 - 20 pound carp in a hassle free manner that wasn't too hard on the fish.

An average sized carp in Michigan
My first mistake was making the assumption that I could use bass tackle to catch carp. I headed out the local big box store and purchased a 6 ft. light action rod and inexpensive spin casting reel.

I tied on a method feeder, hair rig and mixed up some oats. And I went fishing. Luckily I didn't catch anything because it would have most assuredly broke off and left me in a lurch.

Next I bought a medium/heavy action 10 ft. rod and a bait feeding reel. This was definitely a step in the right direction, but still a little off the mark. I actually caught 10-12 carp on this set-up, but lost twice that many to hook pulls. The rod was fine for casting out 3 or 4 oz. leads and method balls, but the stiff action was a little too aggressive for the tender mouthed and lipped carp.

Next I purchased an inexpensive net advertised as a carp net. The very first carp landed with the net broke the net in half.

I purchased a bunch of boilies as bait. A bag of boilies will last a long time for a beginning carp fisherman.

I didn't start out with bite alarms. They are not needed and I consider them more of a nice to have item.

At that point I had spent more than $100 on my initial carp fishing items.

I now know that I'd my first purchase should have been a high quality net. I also now know that you can't get good one for less than about $70 -$90. The better ones are in the $150 - $200 range.

Next I should have prioritized the purchase of a rod capable of casting 3 or 4 oz. lead and method balls; but with enough play to gently fight the fish without yanking and jerking the hook right out of the carps mouth within seconds of the initial run. Several acceptable rods are available for between $40 and $60.

Thirdly I should have purchased a bait feeding reel. A basic reel to do the job costs in the $50 range.

Fourth and fifth, I should have purchased a carry sling and landing mat. This helps ensure the fish is not dropped or mistreated during weighing and picture taking process and that the fish is safely returned to the water to live another day to be caught by another carp angler. These can be had for about $25 each.

For bait, I should have stuck to plain old panko and cream corn for the method ball; and then an inexpensive flavored maize for the hair rig. I have caught 140 carp this past year on flavored corn and about 6 on a boilie. I do spend more on panko and cream corn that I'd like, but you can't catch the fish if they are not attracted to your hook.

Adding all those figures up for three rods and reels, bank sticks, fishing line, bite alarms, etc. uses every bit of $600 if you buy everything new. (Acceptable bite alarms can be purchased for less than $20 each.) Buying used equipment puts the bill down in the $300 range to start out. At this point, after 2 years of carp fishing I've spent about $1,000 on equipment and supplies.

Can you spend less and still catch fish? Yes.
Can you spent much more than that? Very easily.

For me it's money well spent because I love getting outside and catching big fish from bank without a boat. I'd much rather catch a 20 pound fish than a 2 pound fish any day of the week.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Quantity vs. Quality

It's an age old problem.

Do you buy something inexpensive that will get the job done, but has to be replaced quite often, or buy something significantly more expensive that will last much, much longer? A comparison might be buying a Fiat vs. a BMW or a Hyundai vs. a Mercedes.

Do you buy something of good quality like a Seiko or Citizen watch that is moderately expensive, or do you buy something of very, very good quality like a Rolex or Tag Heuer?

For me those comparisons align well with some of my theories of fishing for carp.

Do you use an inexpensive, but effective bait for catching carp like Panko and corn, or do you fish with boilies and a concoction of particles? Both catch fish, but some feel it's a matter of more fish vs. bigger fish.

There's another variable  for carp fishing that makes this scenario a little more interesting - are you fishing in a habitat that has big fish? If the answer is yes, then fishing with inexpensive corn will still catch big fish.

Another way of looking at it -

Would you rather catch 10 or 15 fish with the chance of one or two big fish or catch 4 or 5 fish with one or two big fish?

I know which option I prefer! More is always better in my book.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Election Day Carp Session

I had the day off work, the weather offered 53 degree temps, 25 mph wind gusts and a 60 percent chance of rain by midday.The forecast for the weekend is miserable with predictions of sleet, rain, flurries and a mix of all three with falling temperatures, so by all indications this just might be my last opportunity to catch carp in 2014.

I had lines in by 7:30 and my first fish on the bank by a little past 10:00. It was a nice 21 pounds and 9 ounces. I had more fish by 10:30 and even more by noon. Then the flood gates opened and I had several more fish before I had to leave at 2:15 because it was beginning to rain and I needed to go do my civic duty and vote. I caught several fish consistently in the upper teens and another topping the scales at exactly 20 pounds.

Here are some pictures. My photographer had to work, so I did the best I could with the timer on my cell phone. It's the first time I tried using it, so pardon the odd angles and poor lighting in some of the photos.

My window to the carping grounds this morning. When I took this picture it was still relatively calm.
A little later in the day there were 25 mph wind gusts with 1 foot white caps.

My first fish today weighing in at 21 lbs. 9 oz.

It's s blurry shot with the timer on my cell phone, but not too bad considering the low light levels.
My second fish today weighing 6 lbs.


Third fish weighing 11 lbs.

Upper teens

Same fish, posed with the cell phone timer

Upper teens

Fifth fish of the day

I lost a fish before this one to a hook pull, but luckily there were plenty of others today.

I think I kind of like these types of poses after all. Fins up.

20 lbs. on the button. This one was a fighter for sure.

I fought this one with a real light drag to be sure I could land him.

18 lbs. and my last fish of the day (possibly 2014).
It couldn't have been a better day of fishing. I caught other fish, but these pictures posed on the landing mat are pretty boring. I will spare you those and just say that the action was good today and if it hadn't started raining, I probably could have caught more than 20 fish today.

And I still made it home by 3 p.m. to vote!

In October I set a goal to catch a 30 pounder before it turned to cold to fish. The 30 didn't come, but I gave it my best shot for sure. I have fished twice a week for the past 4 weeks catching fish ranging from 4 pounds to 26 pounds 6 ounces (my new personal best).

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November Carp Fishing Session

I fished today and it was woefully slow going. I didn't have a bite until 10 a.m. and didn't catch the catfish until 11 a.m. (weighing 10 pounds). I hooked two nice fish I couldn't land; caught these little 4 pounders on a double run; and caught 1 more just like these as I was packing up to leave.

10 pounds 3 ounces

Double trouble; 4 pounders
Now I know where not to fish, if you want to catch trophy sized carp.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Power Pro Spectra Braid - 1500 yards of 50 lb Green

At Cabela's this line sell's for $152. Ebay has it on buy-it now for $109 today. Here's the link if you are interested: 50 lb Power Pro