I believe it has been about 7 years ago that we started this little “Carp-O-Rama” event out at Pawnee Reservoir northwest of Lincoln. We wanted an event to draw some attention to common carp, a fish worthy of pursuit, a fish that is definitely a challenge to catch and a fish that prepared right is even darned good to eat. Most of all, we just wanted an event where folks could come out and have some fun fishing! Looking back, if we knew how big this event was going to become, it would have scared us! Well, it is that time again!
This event has gotten bigger and bigger every year. Besides the fishing, and there will be plenty of that, there will be a whole bunch of other things going on. Dick Turpin will be there telling some stories. If you are the “crafty” type like my daughter you will want to check out the fish-printing or “Gyotaku”. There will be fish-cleaning demonstrations, prizes for the kids, bait and tackle provided and lots of free fishing advice! Oh, and even some fish to eat! Forget about the dutch oven demonstrations, there is never anything good to eat at that (and if you forget about it, there will be more for me!). If you like to have a good time, bring the family and come on out.
Now for you scoffers, and I know you are out there, I hear from you all the time. I will admit to you that I wish common carp had never been introduced to this continent. They were not the great idea they were billed to be over a hundred years ago. As a pointy-headed fisheries biologist I will tell you that where we can, in many waters, we will do everything we can to manage and even eliminate common carp. But, we ain’t gonna get rid of them and sometimes when life gives you lemons, you just have to make lemonade. I am betting that those of you that scoff at the thought of catching common carp, have not tried. They are actually one of the more intelligent fish that swim in our waters and can be a great challenge to catch. As a matter of fact, one of the current rages of the fly-fishing crowd is to sight-fish for and land LARGE carp on fly-fishing gear. If you think that is easy, well, either you are an expert fly-angler or more likely, you have not tried!
Here’s another good reason to spend some time fishing for carp–Any avid participant in any sport will tell you that “practice makes perfect”. That is absolutely as true of fishing as it is baseball. But how many of you ever “practice” catching big fish? The “Catch 22″ of practicing the catching of big fish is no one does it until they actually hook a big fish, and then it is too late! A lot of tears have been shed and sad stories told about “the big one that got away”. So, how does a person practice catching big fish? How does a person learn how to do that using his or her tackle? Well, I will tell you–go carp fishing! Carp, and big carp, can be found in a variety of waters around Nebraska and if you can hook into a few of them, I will guarantee you will soon learn how to hook, play, and land big fish. And then when that big bass, walleye, catfish, muskie or whatever finally bites, you will be ready for them!
After observing several Carp-O-Rama events at Pawnee Lake, I will tell you that the best fishing usually occurs early. As the crowds and commotion ramp up, the carp bite falls off. For those of you serious about catching carp, the catching of any fish starts with an understanding of that fish–learning what makes a carp, a carp. Carp have some very unique characteristics and good carp anglers know several tricks to take advantage of those characteristics and catch more carp. I could go on and on about that, but right now I ain’t because I have already blogged about it before; take some time and study this, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/blogs/2011/06/carp/ . Some quick tips you can read about in that previous blog post:
- Carp have a sophisticated sense of smell and taste, corn and dough baits are basic carp baits that will catch lots of carp, but try kicking those baits up with some sweet flavorings or even some hot sauce (yes, I said hot sauce, Tabasco works well). Be creative.
- Carp have sensitive lips, I suppose they would make good kissers if you want to go down that road, but it also means they are very sensitive to hard, rigid fishing lines like monofilament and fluorocarbon brushing across their lips. Use braided leaders.
- “Keep it Simple, Stupid”. There are some really sophisticated rigs and baits used for catching common carp, but start simple and work up from there. I can tell you that often the anglers who catch the most fish at Carp-O-Rama use simple bottom rigs with just a weight, a sharp hook, just a little bit of corn and fish relatively close to the shoreline.
If you make it out to Pawnee this coming Saturday, be sure to say “Hi”. I will wander around, maybe help land a few fish and try to find something useful to do! Show me your catch, tell me a story or two. Come expecting to have FUN!