I wasn't really expecting to find carp today, as I went back to the section of the Otter Tail I was on yesterday to target more white suckers and shorthead redhorse. The day started out promising, as I tied on a soft hackled prince nymph and quickly caught a shorthead with my 6 weight.
I proceeded to catch several white suckers, before I decided to change flies and repair my leader. My leader had been ravaged pretty hard by the rocks over the past couple days it was full of abrasions. Also tying on new sections of tippet started to shorten the length of the midsection by about a foot. After I tied on a few new sections of line and 2X tippet, I scrounged through my Bugger Barn for something different than what I'd been fishing over the past couple of weeks. I found a size 8 pheasant tail nymph, dubbed with hare's ear. Perfect.
I saw a large profile enter the pool where I was fishing, I thought to myself " man that's a large fish; almost too big to be a white sucker". I drifted my nymph through the choppy water along the current seam. I checked my rod back and and felt resistance, fish on! The fish made a few bold runs upstream, headstrong into the current. There was a lot of current in this area due to high flows, so I was trying to be easy on the tippet. I tried playing the fish out in this pool, still not quite sure what it was. Finally, the fish turned against the current and that's when I saw the yellow belly, it was a carp!
I played the fish through a rock weir down to the large pool below. I didn't get a good look at the size of the fish, as all I could make out was the initial flash of yellow in the tannin stained water. The fish made a couple of good runs, determined to head back into the pool up above. That wasn't in my game plan, as the strong current ripping though the weir would surely snap my tippet. I'd get most of my fly line in when the fish would make a run and take another 20-30 yards out. The fish would just sit in the current on the bottom for a while and there was nothing I could do to budge it. I tried turning the fish to tire it out, when it decided to make a large run that took me into my backing. Boy was I glad I just fixed my leader! Eventually I put my fly line back on the spool and tried to figure out how I'm going to land this fish, as I don't have a net. I tried backing up the steep bank behind me to gain some leverage on the fish. I would get the fish near shore when it would take off again, this time, however, I finally saw a red tail and a large profile, this was a dandy carp. I was wondering if I had snagged this fish, as it just was not tiring out. After a few more runs, I finally got the fish close enough to shore to notice that it was hooked in the mouth. I quickly stepped down the bank, keeping tension on my rod, to grab the fish and land it. It was beautiful! I quickly looked at my watch and noticed that I had been fighting this fish for 25 minutes! Luckily, a man was down there fishing with his son and a friend, and was so nice to snap a couple of photos before I released the fish. We were both impressed by the size of the fish and the duration of the fight.
This fish fought harder than any walleye or pike I've ever caught. As I recovered from my adrenaline high, I looked over at the guy and said, " I can't believe why more people don't want to catch a carp on a fly".