Forget beauty—locust and carp can be an appealing combination.
[by Jim Mize]
FOR THE SAKE OF FULL DISCLOSURE, I caught my first carp on a fly rod over 50 years ago. Here’s how it happened. Back then, parents thought turning kids loose outdoors amounted to training in independence. So my cousin and I made plans to camp for a week as soon as school was out. He had just gotten his driver’s license and I was a couple years younger and happy to have a ride. So we headed to a public campground at the lake.
we noticed the surface of the lake was riddled with the wakes of fish, as if small sharks cruised the waters.
I had an Eagle Claw fiberglass fly rod that I used back then to fish bluegill beds. I also took along some spin fishing gear for bass. Our plan was to walk the banks and fish for our supper.
As it turned out, a Boy Scout troop also set up in the campground to train for a canoe race. They each had a canoe and planned to paddle for strength training. They would spend each day on the lake paddling for miles. Having some deadweight in the bow was a plus for training, even if that deadweight was casting a fly rod.
Soon after pushing off from the bank, we noticed the surface of the lake was riddled with the wakes of fish, as if small sharks cruised the waters. Whenever the fish came upon something floating, a round orange mouth broke the surface and slurped it in. These objects looked from a distance like black wine corks. Up close, they could easily be recognized as locusts.
Their “pharaoh” droning hovered over the lake like Muzak. I convinced my
Boy Scout paddler to push into some overhanging branches, which I shook, that littered the canoe floor with bugs. I rigged one and prepared to sight-fish for carp. On our first attempt, we slid delicately into the path of a cruising carp. Carefully I took aim and lofted my buzzing bug in its path. Then I waited.
The locust sent out vibrations, something as appealing as a chummed blood trail to a shark. You could see the carp turn toward the vibration, line up, and slurp without pausing. Upon the hook set, the carp took off and we were in pursuit. The carp preferred live bugs and the vibrations that emanated out like distress signals. These insects had minds of their own on the cast, sometimes deciding to fly in an unintended direction.
For instance, your backcast might come buzzing by the back of your head, sounding like a swarm of angry bees. Everything it contacted, the locust grabbed—whether line, leader, or limb.
So finding a cruising carp willing to eat wasn’t the challenge; the problem was casting a large insect that might decide to fly during mid-cast. You could take pinpoint aim only to have your fly take off like it caught an ill wind. But anytime I placed the locust in front of a carp, the fish homed in on the bug and we were on.