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Sunday, July 31, 2016

My 299th Post on Blog About Carp Fishing in Michigan

I noticed today that my blog is nearing 300 posts. Not every single post is related specifically to catch and release carp fishing, but 95% or more of them probably are. And my plan is to keep it that way in the future.

Releasing a mid-teens fish earlier this spring
When I started the blog around the Christmas Holidays in late 2013 and early 2014 I had high hopes. I had visions that my site would become a popular spot for new comers to learn about and ask questions about carp fishing in Michigan. I had plans to include guest interviews, guest posts and that the blog would become a vehicle to improve the social aspects of fishing for carp in Michigan.

I have made more headway toward some of those goals compared to others. I will leave it up to the few regular readers who read my articles to draw their own conclusions about the good, the bad and the ugly in the blog's content. I write about my experiences with carp fishing and include my personal thoughts about it. I share tips that might help others shorten their learning curve and begin to enjoy more catches and reduce dreaded "blanks" and "skunks" aka "days with zero carp caught".

In the beginning my excitement for carp fishing was fueled by a local group of carp anglers who target common and mirror carp exclusively when they fish. Large catfish are greeted with disdain when they are hooked instead of carp; because they are not the fish being targeted (and because they do not fight like a big carp does).

I used to post about specific venues with pictures of my spots with excitement. My goal was to share my enjoyment for catch and release carp fishing with anyone who would listen. Some felt I was too generous with the information being shared and told me so. I received messages on Facebook and read references on other carp fishing sites about "freely" sharing fishing information, so I have dialed it back a little to maintain harmony. But I do still share information with those who ask me for help and I do still post pictures of my fish without blurring the backgrounds or using a photo editing software to completely change the backgrounds (yes, people actually do this). And in the interest of promoting catch and release carp fishing in Michigan; and encouraging others to do the same I will continue to do so in the future.


The morning view from a local venue
I don't fish for money, fame or sponsorships, but if any of the three came my way I would gladly accept it. However, I will not change my outlook about fishing. It's for everyone and not just a select few who "are in the know".

I fish for enjoyment. It's therapeutic in a way because I can get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors away from the internet, Facebook, discussion forms...and this time of year...away from all the negative "he said" / "she said" of the political election process.

I write for enjoyment and to help others learn. Along the way I hope a few people decide to give carp fishing a try because that is the only way negative attitudes about common carp, which have been naturalized in the United States for almost 150 years, will change.

For me carp fishing is a social experience and I plan to keep it that way.

To paraphrase novelist James Lee Burke:

If a person [fishes] for money or success, he will probably have neither. If he [fishes] for the love of his art and the world and humanity, money and success will find him down the line. In the meantime he must work everyday at his craft, either at his [fishing spot] or in his mind and sometimes in his sleep.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Exploring New Carp Fishing Venues

I have some "go to" carp fishing venues locally that produce carp fairly consistently. Over the years some have ebbed and flowed in their production for a variety of reasons ranging from algae blooms to lack of summer rainfall at optimal times, commercial fishing, the effects of bow fishing, over fishing by those who harvest fish to eat, excessive jet skis, power boating, etc.

So a wise carp fisherman must constantly be on the look out for potential new venues. Venues with upper teen to low twenty average size, easy access via public parks, and close to home. There are plenty of venues that have some of those characteristics or even all during certain seasons (fall or spring as examples). But the holy grail for carp fishing are venues that hit all three of those requirements consistently.

At the current time, I don't have a venue like that close to home. I could drive 3 hours west and fish Lake Michigan where some of my carp fishing acquaintances have been landing 30 pound fish throughout much of the spring and summer. Unfortunately, the distance and driving time put that out of reach for a one day session with my current work schedule and family commitments.

I have Lake Erie and the Detroit River nearby, but neither I nor anyone I know personally has been able to land quality fish consistently in the past two years from those locations fishing from a public access area like a pier or park. I suspect there are some high quality fish to be caught from a boat that can seek out the areas where carp are congregating during a particular month, week or day, but one of the reasons I find carp fishing so attractive is the low cost aspect that does not require a boat and the expenses that come with boat ownership.

That leaves me to branch out north, south, east and west in search of new venues.

Today, I headed south and fished a new lake that I've never visited before. I don't know anyone who has fished it for carp, but I made contact with someone who has caught multiple carp from this new-to-me location. So I pulled out of the drive way at 5 a.m. and arrived at 6:45 a.m. 

I was fishing by shortly after 8 a.m. 

Finding a location was a bit of a crap shoot because although I was able to find a map of the venue online, the spots I hoped to fish with the deeper water depths were inaccessible from the shoreline once I arrived and saw them up close. They had drop offs from 10 to 20 feet or more.

I settled for the closest accessible area and set up there. Instead of the 12 foot water depths I hoped for, I fished in 6 feet of water.

To make a long story short; I fished for 8 hours and finally got my first screaming carp run. Yes....8 hours of silence (not even catfish).

Here are some pictures of the lone fish I landed:

The lonely loner I caught today

The scales were in good condition and he had nice coloring

Carp close-up

Carp tail fin shot

I am sure this lake holds carp in greater numbers than were indicated today. A local father and son team fishing for channel catfish provided some insight that I hope to act upon during my next visit.

Some additional online scouting and research will probably pay dividends before my next visit.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Michigan Carp Anglers Group July Social Fish In

Today I traveled to a new water for the first time and fished from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. I fished a spot with no pre-baiting and no prior knowledge of carp being caught from that particular spot on the lake.

When I arrived the temperature gauge on my vehicle said it was 65 degrees, but today's session turned out to be my hottest day of fishing this year with temperatures hitting 99 degrees.

The view at "the spot"

It took quite a while to get a fish on the bank, but I broke the ice with this nice looking channel catfish

Another view of the channel catfish. I didn't weigh the catfish, but I am sure it exceeded 10 pounds
As a member of a carp fishing club, I target carp exclusively and sometimes manage to catch some other nice fish like channel catfish or small mouth buffalo.

Other days I fish all day and struggle to catch the target fish no matter how long I fish, how much bait I use and what techniques or other rabbits I try to pull out of the hat to put a fish in the net.

Today definitely falls into one of the "other" day category.

My first fish sounded the alarms at about 8:30 a.m. and I managed to bring it to the bank in short order. But I do not have a picture of the fish because before I could bring it into the net, it managed to flip and flop a few times and perform a self-induced "quick release" technique preventing me from posing the fish and making it famous for a few minutes on my Facebook page and carp fishing blog.

Then the frustration really set in. I had a string of 8 consecutive carp runs and 8 consecutive hook pulls. I tried fighting the fish with a tight drag and then I tried a loose drag. I tried new hooks, although my original hooks were quite sharp and very adequate. Nothing worked to put some carp in the landing net.

I was beginning to think the "skunk" was on. And then it happened...another carp hit the end of the line slamming the alarm hard.

I tried the loose drag technique again, but the fish wouldn't give in. After a few minutes the carp managed to find the lily pads to the right of my swim and lodged himself there. He wouldn't budge.

One of my fishing friends, David, came to the rescue. He felt so bad for my carp skunk and run of bad luck that he waded into the water while I kept pressure on the fish. David found the fish in the lily pads and as he stood in chest deep water relieved the lily pad snag and the fish was swimming freely again.

I landed the small carp in the photo below a short while later. I am sure there are some bigger fish to be caught and perhaps the hottest day of the year isn't the best day to fish this venue. Early fall or spring might produce very different results since the battle with weeds and lily pads would be reduced dramatically.

It was smaller than I hoped, but the scale and color patterns were flawless.
Overall it was a hot day, frustrating at times, but rewarding at the end. David saved the day for me. That is one of the advantages of fishing with friends. We can bail each other out from time to time.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Ranger: The Affordable Landing Net for Trophy Carp Fishing


The picture above is of my American Made in the USA Tournament Series Landing Net by Detroit's very own Ranger Products.

I have tried a few other of the budget priced Euro style landing nets in my almost 4 year obsession with carp fishing and they have all fallen by the way side. I am not saying they were bad products at all. But I am saying they are only good to a point.

They are acceptable for landing a few small carp from time to time on waters with level bank areas and without any steep inclines that require a lot of leverage to lift carp up to 30 pounds 4 or 5 feet to the landing mat.

But if you want to purchase 1 landing net that will do the job, do it well, and not bend, break or warp when you need to lift fish up onto the bank, then you want a Ranger net.

The net in the picture above has a 48" extension handle, 30" hoop, and is very heavy duty. It is the flat bottom tournament series model 9855FB that is popular with muskie fishermen.

I purchased it for about $70 at Dick's Sporting Goods. I liked it so much that I bought another one recently. The knotless nets are rubber coated. I haven't had any trouble with the nets snagging carp fins, which is more than I can say for the Euro style nets I have owned.

The only downside to these nets is the heavier weight that makes it a little less convenient to land carp when fishing alone, but it's not a deal breaker by any means. I got the hang of landing carp within this net after catching a few fish.

Gamakatsu: The Affordable Hook for Carp Fishing

When Resistance Tackle closed down its website the cost of carp fishing increased. There are other sources of carp gear, but in my experience when there are fewer sources prices tend to rise. So I decided to begin looking for ways to reduce the cost of some of the basic carp fishing supplies.

I decided to look for some more affordable carp hooks. My normal hooks sell for about $8 per 10 hook pack. I found the Gamakatsu G Carp Wide Gap hooks, which are fairly new to the carp tackle scene, although Gamakatsu has been making fishing tackle for many years and is very popular in other fishing styles and fishing pursuits - think bass, crappie, blue gill, walleye.


My new carp fishing hooks in size 6
These hooks have similar features to other "brand names" known for carp tackle in Europe. In fact the G Carp hooks have a lot in common with the Korda wide gap hooks I have been using very successfully for a couple of years.

10 pound common
PTFE coating, wide gap, micro barb, and upturned eye are all key selling points of the G Carp hooks.

I have been testing the hooks now for a few sessions and I really like them. And at a 50% discount compared to the Nash and Korda equivalents I can afford to buy a lot more of them too!
Here is a carp I caught on the hooks from the packet above earlier in the weekend.

In the interest of full disclosure and so you can benefit from my testing and experimentation, when I re-order more G Carp hooks I will be getting them in size 4.

I spent some time looking for them on Amazon, Wacker and Carp Kit but they seem to be in short supply right now.

I suspect the size 4 hooks will provide an improve landing percentage by ensuring a quality hook hold and therefore a reduction in hook pulls.

I will continue testing these hooks and will update my results here on the blog from time to time.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Michigan Carp Fishing Near Lake Erie

Today I returned to an old favorite location that I placed on hiatus for a while. I hadn't fished this spot since early March and prior to that last August. It used to be a favorite spot that was very productive with fish in the 20+ pound range every time out. I stopped fishing here when that production slowed down significantly, but decided to give it another try.



I love my Ranger Big Game Tournament Series musky net

Today's big carp

Today's carp with the most interesting scale patterns



 

 
I like the tail on this one.
 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Taste of Belleville - Rubber Duck Race Fundraiser

I would like to let you know that I now have tickets available for the annual Rubber Duck Race Fundraiser that is organized by the Belleville Rotary Club in conjunction with the Taste of Belleville event.

You do not need to be present to win. Tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20 and there is a chance to win up to $1,000.

Let me know if you need a ticket or two (or 5 or 10).

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Gamakatsu Wide Gape Super G-Carp

Gamakatsu Wide Gape Super G-Carp hooks
My primary hook for the past couple of seasons has been the Korda Wide Gap in size 4. I purchase them from a carp fishing vendor for $7.99 per pack of 10.

When Gamakatsu introduced a specially designed carp hook series I decided to explore whether they might work for me as either a substitute or replacement for the Korda hooks. I have been testing these Gamakatsu Wide Gape Super G-Carp hooks for my last couple of carp fishing sessions. The G-Carp hooks sell for 50% less than the Korda's I have been using.

My only regret is that when I requested feedback from another well-known carp fishermen who has been using these G-Carp hooks exclusively for several months as a "tester" he recommended a size 6 hook. After using the hooks for a couple of sessions I wish I had picked up some size 4's instead.

I have landed a few carp using these G-Carp's, but I have experienced some unexpected hook pulls too. With the Korda's, I had a streak of more than 6 months without a hook pull. In the past couple of sessions I have had 3 hook pulls with the Gamakatsu's. I do not think it's a fair comparison though at this point. While the size 6 G-Carp's are close in size to the size 4 Korda's, the G-Carp size 6's are slightly smaller.

I regret this experience because I do not think it's a good indicator of the potential these hooks provide. Compared to the Korda wide gap's they are very similar. The structure, point, shank and overall design are quite close to the Korda's.

When I place my next order for some carp fishing tackle I am definitely going to include some size 4 G-Carps in the mix. Once received my testing will continue.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Daver Mercer and Gerald Swindell - Carp Master Classic Waddington New York - Facts of Fishing

“It’s always amazed me how certain species of fish are looked down upon by some people,” Mercer said. “I’m not a proud man. I just want something to pull on my line.”



Lake Erie July Session

It had not rained more than a few sprinkles in our area for 7 weeks...until last night. And that much needed and long awaited rain overnight affected the fishing today.

I did manage to catch a small catfish early on this morning, but that fish was followed by several hours of no fish, no bites, and no screamers coming from the BFS indicator carp alarms.

But I kept plugging away at it. Casting and re-baiting. Casting and re-baiting.

And the fishing gods rewarded those efforts with a nice mid-teens common carp, which is one of the cleanest, brightest, most vivid commons I have ever had the please of landing.

Mid teens carp
The picture of this particular fish illustrates some interesting things that I would like to expound on a little bit.

While I did manage to pose the fish in some good lighting to show off the nice scaling and coloring on the fish, I should have posed the head toward the camera more. In this shot the tail is pointing more toward the camera. If the head had been pointed toward the camera more effectively, the gill plate would display better.

Notice how my hands are placed under the fish to support it's weight, and notice how my fingers are tucked away and not placed inside the gill plate in any way. A carp's gill plate is very sensitive. If penetrated with a hand, pliers, grippers, etc. it's easy to damage the fish. Damage to the gill plate can cause bleeding and might even kill the fish. This is something to be avoided, which allows the fish to continue growing and hopefully be caught again someday by another angler. That is my goal with every carp I catch. Provide good care and release them back into the water.

I zoomed in closer on this picture using Microsoft Paint. I have to admit that
my fingers are really too close to the gills when posing this fish. While my index
finger is not technically penetrating the gills, it's a little too close for comfort.
It can take several years for carp to reach 15 or 20 pounds in weight. For trophy sized carp - those over 30 pounds - it can take up to 15 years to grow to that size. To catch a trophy sized, once in a lifetime fish; carp need to be treated with respect when being caught and released. And if we are lucky, they will reward us, a friend, or another cap fishing enthusiast with a new personal best in the future.

A few hours later another fish graced the landing net. Although somewhat smaller than the first, I was thrilled to see it after a very slow fishing day.

Single digits common carp

And here is another picture of the first fish being returned to the water.


I try to return the carp to the water gently, allow it a short time to revive, and then swim away on it's own.

A word of caution: Please do not "throw" or "drop" carp back into the water. Carp are heavy fish and dropping them from 3 or 4 feet above the water line can cause them to hit the lake or river bottom if the water is not deep enough to support their weight. This is hard on the carp and can cause injury or even death.

Monday, July 4, 2016

July Fourth Carp

I fished close to home today.

It's a lake that is very popular with pleasure boaters and jet skiers. I was the first person through the gate at 5:45 when the ranger opened up for the day. I figured I'd get in several hours of fishing before the hooligans arrived.

I put in 7 hours, but ended up with only 1 fish. I am happy to have caught it though because the jet skiers, water skiers, bass fishermen, jet boats, etc. were wearing me out at the end.

Here are some pictures.



Saturday, July 2, 2016

Independence Day Weekend Near Lake Erie

The plan for this weekend was to fish a pier on Lake Erie that I have been looking forward to try for several weeks. The area is currently experiencing an algae bloom that has tinted the water in that area a very dark green color. Based on my experience in the past it's very tough to fish in those conditions, so we opted to try another location nearby.

I have been unable to fish for a couple of weeks due to a nasty battle with walking pneumonia the past 10 days or so. It started as an allergy, progressed to bronchitis and kept getting worse until it started affecting my breathing. Today was great therapy and I am feeling much better now.

The decision to switch locations paid off. Here are a few pictures of the fish I landed today.

A nice mid teens common carp

A nicely scaled 10 pounder

The second carp caught today with nice coloring

The first carp was landed shortly after lines in early this morning

This is only my 3rd or 4th mirror I have ever caught. It's very rare to catch a mirror carp at this particular location.

My streak catching small mouth buffaloes continues.
Despite handling the fish with great care, this time of year the small mouth buffaloes are always marked up quite a bit.
I am guessing it's left over from spawning activity.
To make this picture a little more palatable, I touched up a couple of the rough spots on this fish.
I also caught a small catfish, but can't seem to find a picture of the fish on my phone tonight. If I do, I'll post it up too.

My fishing partner today, Erik Sevo, landed a nice 21 pound common carp that is a new personal best for him and also landed his first small mouth buffalo tipping the scales at 15 pounds 14 ounces.

Congratulations Erik!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Michigan DNR Bulletin - Know the Difference: Invasive versus common carp

The Michigan DNR published an informative bulletin titled "Know the Difference: Invasive versus common carp" on 6/30/16 featuring some very insightful information about "naturalized" carp aka "common carp" and "invasive" aka "big head", "silver", "black" or "grass" carp.

Common carp close up
From the article:
Common carp weighing in the mid teens
Because they have been widely distributed and their demand as a food source has diminished, common carp sometimes are referred to as a nuisance species. However, they are not considered invasive in Michigan.
I enjoyed the article because it helps explain some critical differences between what is actually "invasive" and what is not.

Michigan Out of Doors Carp Fishing Episode


 
 
I am proud to say that I fish with the guys featured in the carp fishing segment. They are some of the best carp fishermen in Michigan and the entire country.