Ottawa's Two Lip Festival
( Bella with a beautiful spring carp)
There is something great about spring time, and something special every year when the bugs start arriving and the flowers start showing their colors. This is my favorite time to head out for carp. Not only are they hungry but these pre-spawn fish are fat and will often take an offering. If you are new to the sport, check for shallow water areas such as dams and shallow bays.
There are hundreds of secret baits out there but early season carp have a thing for sweet canned corn. (you can also substitute maise, which is available at feed stores ). If you are fishing a new area try chumming a spot by tossing out a few handfuls of corn. It is best to visit the same spot a few days in a row ? if there are carp in the area it will not take long for them to show themselves and you can train them to show up for feedings. If the water you are fishing is unclear- you can tell carp are present when you will notice plums of mud forming as they stir up the bottom as they feed. In really shallow bays, you can even see a carp?s tail moving on the surface just like a redfish does in southern waters. Do not keep casting at these fish, when they are face down they are feeding and will find your bait.
When it comes to tackle- a small hook is all you need. Make sure you cover it with a few kernels of corn (my favorite canned corn has sugar and salt packaged in it). Seasoned angler?s use a hair rig for fishing for carp. A hair rig is a hook with a small piece of thread or braided line attached to the hook. The bait is threaded on it with a stopper. (no bait is left on the actual hook). When carp feed, they suck and spit matter from the bottom in search of food. When they suck up a hair rig, they will sense something is wrong and spit it out. When they do they usually end up with a hook in the side of the mouth and the battle is on! In term of weight for this set up or for a simple hook rig, use a sliding sinker (which will allow the fish to run without detecting the weight). Tie on a swivel and add a foot or two of fluorocarbon and attach the business end of your choice. Make sure your reel?s drag is set very loosely as the hard fighting power of a carp will take your whole set up for a ride if you are not paying attention. Most avid carp anglers opt for a bait runner reel which has a free spool setting and you can engage the drag by cranking the reel?s handle. If you are just testing out the sport you can use a regular spinning reel. In clear water with the presence of zebra mussels, it is better to use heavy braided line which is less abrasion resistant and will help prevent break-offs. Longer rods are important as well since they give you a better angle on the fish which will prevent your line from rubbing on bottom. In high pressured waters, flurocarbon or mono is good for spooky fish and the stretch will help while fishing with children.
For you fly anglers out there, carp are loads of fun to target and sight fishing for them is one of my happiest frustrations that can be very rewarding. Try using crayfish imitation patterns or wolly buggers.
Some hot spots for carp in Eastern Canada- St Lawrence River from Long Sault to Montreal, Rideau River in Ottawa.