Just so there is no misunderstanding about the following … as a fisherman I am a reluctant fan of the carp (common variety only). I grew up targeting them with a hook, sinker and can of Green Giant corn (or nightcrawlers) and many of my earliest memories are of epic battles with large-scaled golden beasts. But I also hold carp at arm’s length because of their tendency to degrade habitat for other fish species, like bass.
So while I like carp, I also dislike them. Make sense?
Which brings me to the other day … I was on the Mississippi River with Brad Hadsall, lead producer of North American Fisherman television show, searching for big walleye and bass. We’re both fishing jigs. Brad tipped his with a Berkley 4-inch Ripple Shad in white; I have 3-inch model in copper.
While I didn’t say anything to Brad at the time, I figured a four-inch bait is too large for sluggish post-spawn walleye, so I was stunned when he set the hook on a heavy fish on his second cast of the day. When the fish didn’t stay deep, however, I figured he had accidentally snagged a carp. And he had, a thick-bellied fish running 7 or 8 pounds, only it wasn’t snagged. In fact, the Ripple Shad was so far down its throat it was hard to even see it!
A carp that chased jigs! I landed one that hit a trolled crankbait last August, so the idea of a carp crashing a bait mimicking a minnow wasn’t completely foreign, but it was a tad unusual!
But I wasn’t expecting what happened next. A few casts later a big fish crushed my jig as it fell along the truck of a flooded tree, then headed for mid-river. When the line rose to the surface at the end of the run, I knew immediately that I had hooked another carp and yes, it also held my jig firmly in the corner of its mouth!
Two carp down and we weren’t done yet. In the hour and a half, we landed seven more, and all but one had eaten our jig/plastic combos! And as an added bonus, I landed a quillback as well, also on the jig.
In a lifetime of angling, I had never seen carp so active or aggressive in pursuit of artificials. Have you?