A foggy Wednesday morning I found myself at one of our favorite carp spots. This spot is revered for its large weary fish and happens to be the birthplace of The Damsel and the reason for the ghillie suit. A few days earlier Mark had fished the same spot hooking one on the damsel only to lose it in heavy cover, but reported seeing a lot of feeding activity and some large fish. Since we each only catch one or two fish from this spot in a calendar year I figured I’d give it a shot.
I arrived with high hopes of feeding fish only to find that they were staging to spawn. My heart sank as I watched pods of males slowly jockey for position behind large females inches under the surface out in deep water. Unlike other places in the country the carp populations here are small and all the fish spawn at once rendering them uncatchable. They weren’t spawning yet but you could tell they were thinking about it. Spawning or not I always take a lap or two to check for any single and willing fish. On my way around I observed many shoals of fast cruising fish and a few singles. I had a shot at one which only briefly eyeballed my damsel before continuing on its way.
Since I seen no feeding activity I decided to tie on a streamer and fish for bass only to discover that I took my bass flies out of my pack and left them at home. I was not pleased and decided to call it a day. For my walk back to the car for my own amusement I switched to an egg pattern to try my luck at some more fast cruisers. We’ve never got a carp to eat an egg pattern at this location before so I had zero faith in what I was about to do. I walked the entire way back tossing the little #14 orange egg at three fish getting ignored outright every time. Close enough to see my car at this point I spied a mudding fish in about two feet of water. I served up my egg on the bottom as he emerged from his plume... and boom he sucked it in. Shocked and excited as shit I fought the 15-18 pounder to within ten feet of me only to pull the fly from its mouth. I stood in silence for a while before gathering myself on a bench. I sat there and thought long and hard about leaving but decided to give it one more shot. I retied my tippet and started another lap around. Out of curiosity I stuck with the orange egg and low and behold I found a pair of feeding fish in less than five minutes. One fish ignored it and the second gave it a once over but wasn’t spooked by it. Twenty minutes later I walked up on a monster fish slowly grazing along the shore. It was the largest fish I’d ever seen at this spot. I crept around a bush to intercept her on the other side, I presented the egg and as soon as she seen it she turned quickly and disappeared into the depths directly off shore. It was a typical maneuver for these fish no matter what fly you are using but I ended up blaming the egg anyway.
Small fly--Big fish
I switched flies back to the damsel and chose the smallest version in my box. Taking another lap around I was surprised to find the same big fish I just spooked with the egg was back feeding right off shore in about three feet of water. I repeated the scenario and dropped the damsel two feet to the right of her, she slowly turned in the direction of my fly and I knew right then and there it was on. About a foot from where my fly landed she opened and closed her mouth. I almost hesitated thinking she was eating something else but my 6th sense kicked in... She got it! After the longest fight of my life I landed my personal best carp. I feared for my 3x tippet the whole time until I beached her. I was lucky enough to have a man walking his dog stop and watch me for an hour to take a few pictures for me. He ended up helping me get her into the weigh sling too. Good Man! She tipped the scale at 32.40 lbs. If I learned anything from that day it’s to NEVER. GIVE. UP.