Written by: Mike Mazzoni
[Editor’s note: Last year, we posted two sets of photos of big trout (here and here) by Mike Mazzoni, who was a summer intern at Falcon’s Ledge in Utah. He’s back again, but this time, he has a new job—Guest Relations/Facilities Manager—and a new mission.]
While some fly fishers find success in enticing carp with a Prince Nymph under a strike indicator, or by stripping a Woolly Bugger blindly, I have grown to love the challenge and thrill of sight-casting to feeding carp, watching the take, and enjoying the long, powerful runs these fish are known for.
Joe Ferber of Orvis in Leawood, Kansas, introduced me to the guerrilla tactics he has developed for sight-casting to both common carp and grass carp that inhabit the creeks that flow through the hairy, overgrown hardwood forests of Kansas and Missouri. The first common I landed required a bow-and-arrow flick through an arc of vines and branches, a twitch of my leader as the carp took a mulberry pattern, a strong strip-set, and a 10 minute battle, which left me standing in shin-deep mud holding a healthy 12-pound fish. This was the fruit of many fishless days, combined with Joe’s knowledge and patience, and when I left for Utah I told him he couldn’t pay me to go trout fishing.
My first week in Utah was spent trying to locate a reservoir in which the carp had finished their spawn, which marks the beginning of a period of heavy feeding. When I did, I struck gold with back-to-back afternoons in which I landed nine, then 16 fish weighing between 5 and 15 pounds. I found that a 5-weight rod with a long, tapered 2X leader is the perfect match for the carp in this area, while a few may leave you wondering if you have enough backing or wishing you had brought your 7-weight.