Introducing the Family to Carp Fishing
I thought what better way for my Dear Wife (DW) to develop an appreciation for fishing for monster Carp than to have her catch a few herself. To this end, I arranged for us to go camping for the weekend along the shore of the St. Lawrence. I reserved a camp site that provided direct access to the River, and with the assistance of some local outfitters, had the waters in front of the site chummed with soaked corn for several days prior to our arrival.
With my DW’s expert trailer towing skills, we had little difficulty positioning our 23RS Outback travel trailer so that the door and awning were facing the water. Our excitement peeked when we observed virtually continuous Carp activity on the water immediately in front of our site. It was all I could do to contain myself long enough to un-hook and set-up camp.
Within five minutes of casting out the first rod the bite alarm sounded. My DW had just departed for a walk with the two tots to check out the playground, which posed the first challenge, how to scale down the steep rocky shoreline to net the fish. Thankfully, my neighbour at the next site came over to offer assistance, and I passed him the rod with instructions to flip the reel’s baitrunner to the on position once I had the fish in the net. I scaled down the incredibly nasty bank made up of large jagged loose boulders with my net, and just as my DW returned, I netted our first fish of the trip.
It wasn’t long before I had the line number one back in the water and the second rod ready to go. No chance to cast out the second line however, as the bite alarm went off again. I offered it to my DW, but she wanted to watch for a while to get a better understanding of what’s involved.
(Within minutes of releasing the second Carp we were into the third fish of the afternoon. The fight was tough and made even tougher by the large rocks in the shallows leading up to the steep underwater drop-off about 50-feet out from the shore. I was fishing about 75 feet out at a depth of about 30 feet. The Carp were quick to dive for the deeper waters dragging my 80lb green PowerPro braid through the shallow-water rocks. The braid performed excellent and not once did we suffer break-off above the leader.
Carp number three was giving quite a show for itself so we figured that it would be best if I played this one as well. The brute finally came in and it definitely warranted a trip up the bank to the scales. It tipped the scales at 25lbs.
Even though the bottom of the water we were fishing was extremely rocky, successful Carp fishing was still possible by adopting the following strategies. First, I didn’t stop line from peeling off the reel the instant the Carp hit. I figured it was better to fight the fish out in the deeper water than in close to shore amongst the large boulders. Second, the 80lb PowerPro I was using easily withstood the constant scraping over the rocks without once breaking. Third, my choice of sinker rigging technique allowed for the 3oz weights to be released should they get hung up, which meant at worst I would lose a sinker rather than the entire rig. Finally, the hook leaders were also braid, but a much lighter lb test which meant the Carp themselves would have a chance to break free should the line become entangled. The Carp could also trip the sinker release catch from their end in those cases where the line broke off above the sinker allowing the fish to be spared the discomfort of being tethered to a rock on the bottom.
We didn’t have to wait long before the 4th and 5th fish of the evening were hooked up, and these both were brought in by my DW. Again, our wonderful neighbours came over and took charge of our two kids. This gave me the opportunity to coach my DW on the finer points of taking in line – she was convinced we were connected to a large rock. Once she understood the mechanics of the reel’s drag system, she was quick to grasp the fact that rocks don’t swim. A couple good fights lasting about 20 minutes each and my DW had her first two Carp – I haven’t any photos of her as she said there was no way I was going to post pics of her in her camping apparel on my website.
By 8:30 p.m. we decided to put the rods away for the evening. We had landed about a dozen fish and lost about another dozen due to sinkers getting lodged in rocks, hooks being straightened, leaders parting, etc. The bank leading down to the water also made netting and releasing challenging.
The next morning, I slipped out of bed and it wasn’t long before the bite alarms were going off again. I had promised my DW that I would put the rods away by noon so I could give my undivided attention to the kids. It was our first camping outing of the 2008 year and with the new baby, I new time was limited before I would have to exchange my fishing hat for my Daddy hat.
The rest of the morning went much like the previous afternoon with almost continuous action. I had never before experienced such non-stop Carp activity and my DW said she could now better appreciate my excitement for the sport. She was even more impressed by the way these gentle giants behaved themselves when out of the water. Of course, they received the same careful consideration in return, which gained me some serious brownie points with my DW and eldest daughter – the later of whom is now herself hooked on the idea of catching fish – smaller ones though, she specifically told me that she only wants to catch “baby” fish.
When we pulled out from the campground my DW had already scouted out several other sites with far more forgiving embankments that she thought would be suitable for next year (waterfront sites are booked well in advance for the entire season).
I lost about $25 in hooks, sinkers and leaders, and suffered one rod fracture – tough fishing for sure but on balance, well worth the adventure to witness my DW playing monster Carp and my family’s wonderment with these truly amazing fish. I believe she’s now hooked, and we are both looking forward to next year.