Doggin Carp

A phone call about a sighting of a brown trout estimated to be around the 6lb mark which was hooked & lost in the Turon River below Sofala and another smaller brown caught by a camper on a bit of bread under a little red bubble float a week later had me thinking of smoked trout for tea. Recent rainfall had freshened up the Turon and had it flowing nicely, with the water still clear but not crystal. Rain & showers were forecast & the clouds were heavy as I headed off to the Turon with a slight drizzle coming in by the time I was far enough from the car to not go back for a raincoat.

Normally fly fishing is my preference when chasing fish in the clear waters of the Turon. Past experiences had seen weighted flies on long light leaders worked slowly along the bottom of the deeper holes to be a productive method of fooling a trout & drifting a weighted nymph down a swift run also works well. Today however I had my spin outfit, a 1-3kg Berkley dropshot rod & Pflueger supreme threadline spooled with 6lb braid, 6lb Sensei fluorocarbon leader. First cast across the pool into the shadows of the overhanging casuarinas, I let the little yellow Berkley Sub Dog sink before commencing a slow lift & drop retrieve. On the second drop the line tightened & the rod loaded up as the fish sped off along the opposite bank with the drag singing, seeing a brief silvery flash down deep as the fish turned & headed back in the opposite direction before coming to the surface at the end of that run, bloody carp. At about 55 cm the carp put in a good fight on the light spin rod before it tired & I was able to get it on its’ side, grab it with the pliers & drag it up the bank. I hadn’t seen the fish & cast to it as is usually the method we use when targeting carp in the rivers as they are feeding and sending out plumes of sediment while they grub along the bottom. The next pool was a bit milky indicating the carp were feeding & after watching for a bit I spotted a plume of silt & cast the little Sub Dog at it, as it sank the line moved & I lifted the rod and another carp bolted peeling line from the little reel & making it sing through the guides. This fish was a bit better & took a while to tire before coming in & lying on its’ side against the bank. After a photo, unhooking & Iki-jiming the carp an inspection of the lure revealed the sticky little Owner trebles were slightly out of shape so after bending them back with the pliers and walking about 10 metres downstream another carp came along the near bank & started to feed. A little flick, let the lure settle to the bottom one slow hop & the carp saw the Sub Dog as it settled on the river bed, it turned, opened its big rubbery lips, sucked at the lure & then exploded in the shallow water & bolted to get as far away as possible as the hooks dug in.

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Similar scenarios were repeated another three times before heavier rain had me turning back toward the vehicle. I have to admit it was fun & I was no longer thinking about catching a brown trout to smoke up for a feed. Walking back to the car the rain eased back to a drizzle so I decided to fish a couple of pools that were bypassed earlier. The first one saw me strike too early & missing the fish causing him to spook, at the exit of the next pool a large carp slowly moved across & melted into the shadow of a rockbar, the lure landed where it should and a short twitch saw the little yellow Sub Dog slowly sink into the shadow, the line moved on the drop & I lifted the rod to set the hooks resulting in underwater mayhem causing the rod to load & buck violently as line began to sing through the guides. The carp bolted upstream peeling line off the little reel causing the need to apply gentle pressure to the spool with my thumb in an attempt to slow it down & prevent it from reaching the fallen tree at the head of the pool. The added pressure momentarily caused the fish to head out away from the snag before turning and heading straight under it, luckily the line stayed clear of the underwater branches with the fish staying deep before finally swimming toward the near bank. I hurriedly walked along the bank winding to gain back line as the fish settled into a slug-out pattern. Eventually the fish tired and gave me a close look as it swam up & down in the shallows before laying over on its’ side. At 85 cm & around 9kilos it was a serious fish with a big bulging gut indicating a female full of eggs. After a few pics & removing the hooks I looked back to the spot where the fish was landed and saw another fish starting to feed in the shallows. Grabbing the rod I flicked a cast, let the lure sink & gave it a twitch & watched the carp glide over, open its’ big rubbery lips and then bolt as it felt the trebles sink in. The rain had got heavier so after landing the fish I decided to head back to the car for a dry shirt. It is not my intention to glorify these fish as they are classified as a noxious pest & do compete for sites with our natives, compete for food, uproot aquatic vegetation and degrade water quality by increasing sediment loads when feeding. In my opinion the more carp removed from our rivers the healthier the will become.

DSC_0206-1024x683A few mates & I have been targeting carp on fly for a few years with great success but this was the first time for me with a spin rod & small lures. I imagine other small suspending or sinking lures like the Berkley Prawn Dogs and minnows would work just as well. Good mates, Ken Smith & his son Jeremy, have been smashing the Turon River carp population fishing 2inch Berkley curl tail grubs in watermelon colour this season by walking the banks & flicking them in front of feeding carp. If the carp are cruising they are very hard to catch but when they start grubbing on the bottom they become more likely to pick up the lure. The trick is not to let the fish see you, make an accurate cast just in front of the carp, let the lure settle on the bottom & then move it when they get near it & let it sit on the bottom again. Nine times from ten they come straight over & hoover it up. Carp will rarely take a lure that is being retrieved in the Turon, preferring to pick it up off the bottom. Occasionally they will see it as it is falling & take it on the drop. The carp in Wyangla dam will definitely chase lures and are often caught trolling lures meant for native fish. A good way to target carp in Wyangla & Burrendong dams is to walk the banks along the flats casting to feeding fish in the shallow water.

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I do not regard these invasive pests as a sportfish, although they are fun to catch especially when sight fishing & they do put up a good fight. Carp are good to target when teaching kids how to fish as it teaches them the basics of how to fight a fish properly & are good practise in preparing them for being able to catch more desirable species. Carp can be hard to catch at times & if you spook a fish it will swim through the pool & gather all the others, then come back with them & swim past you eyeballing you like a shark. When this happens you may as well move to the next pool as those fish will not feed after they have seen you. In my opinion the more people learn about catching carp, they can target carp and remove them from our waterways & help improve the environment for our native fish.

Colin Gordon

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