To begin, I don't just fish for carp. I fish for BIG carp. Does that help you understand the motivation? I fish for carp because carp get BIG - really big - and because there is seldom any competition from other anglers in the areas I fish. In fact, I imagine that most freshwater flyrodders don't get to do battle with really BIG fish very often - some not at all. A four or five pound trout or bass is an exceptional fish. A ten pounder is the fish of a lifetime. I catch fish like that on nearly every trip unless I'm scouting. And there is always the opportunity for a fish in the 15 to 20 pound range.
And these fish fight long and hard. I get to see my bright orange flyline backing multiple times on each trip. In a lake especially, or a big river where a BIG carp has room to run, you'd better have 100+ yards of backing because you'll need it if you want to see your flyline again. If you fish for them in an area where they've had enough years to get really big, you'd better leave your wimpy five and six weight at home - that is unless you want to make your two piece Sage a three piece or your four piece Scott a five.
"But carp are ugly!" you say. Well, beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder. I recently had a friend show me a five man limit of Sturgeon caught on the Columbia here in Oregon. The smaller ones were as long as your leg and well... they were ugly. Yet these guys paid $175 each to hire a guide and a boat half a day to catch them. My friend told me it was a trip of a lifetime. I can understand his rationale. Then there are guys who catch sharks. Talk about ugly! And scary, too. And did you know that fishermen used to call those bonefish people people pay thousands of dollars to catch in places like the Bahamas... did you know they used to call them "fresh water suckers?"
OK, OK. Maybe I won't convert anyone to carping. So far I've had more people turn up their noses than take a genuine interest. But hey, that's OK with me. I'll have that many more uneducated fish swimming in my favorite waters.
So how BIG do carp get? I think the world record is 70+ pounds. Generally though, in my part of the world, a 20 pounder is big and a 30 pounder is really BIG. I haven't caught a 30 yet, but I've come close. The fish in the picture above was 28 pounds.
Then there is this one, caught about a week later in the same spot. Exactly 28 pounds. But I have a confession to make...
After releasing the fish, when I got the photos home and began to compare I discovered by seeing several distinct markings that I had caught the same fish twice! (Could there be a better testimony for catch and release?) Some other carpers I know encouraged me to name the fish, citing an English custom of naming fish that have been caught multiple times. At the suggestion of another crazed carper (thanks, MrP.) I named this one "Lightning" because I learned, after a long, tough battle, that lightning does sometimes strike twice in the same place. And he/she is still out there. Maybe I'll let things move along so that this fish gains a few more pounds. Then I'll get the 30. Hehehe.
Go ahead and turn up you nose if you wish. I'm OK with it. Leave the fish alone. Leave them for me and those select few who have discovered a brave new, nearly untouched fishing world - the world of carping.