Nine year old Garrett Smith fighting one of his many carp from the day we fished together in July. Garrett is part of the SmithFly (smartest tech gear anywhere) family and even at 9 is showing great fly fishing skills and is a heck of a nice kid to boot.
The Smiths are a perfect example of a trend that is becoming more common. Several years ago Ethan headed over and fished with Steve and realized that not only does Beaver Island have great fishing but would also make a perfect family vacation spot.
Now the Smiths return to the island each summer, rent a big house and enjoy the island with extended family and friends for a week or more.
For the first time in many years we have rising water levels. I heard estimates that Lake Michigan is up from 15 to 20 inches. One thing this means is that we have flooded vegetation and carp, as you probably know, love getting in the weeds.
If your in an area with a soft bottom, you can often sneak within feet of these fish. While these ultra shallow carp are cool to see, they’re impossible to even consider making a cast to.
Steve, while fishing with Brad Befus (Carp on the Fly), was the first of us guides to witness a dabbled carp and not only one but several in the same day. While this technique seems silly, it ends up being surprisingly successful.
Shorten your line to a few feet. The key is exact placement of the fly, just a few inches in front of the carp’s mouth. More line reduces accuracy, especially with any wind. Lightly dip the fly into the water, the carp will most often gobble it immediately. If not, try lightly jigging to attract attention.
It seems that about half the carp attempted with dabbling will eat, the other half either ignore or spook.
Let me tell you, when you set the hook on a twenty pound carp that is only two feet from your rod tip, a lot is going to happen quickly and it’s all fun.
This has been my go-to fly for the summer. Fast, easy to tie and because their thinly tied, they sink like a rock. Tied on a size 1, Daiichi 2151 this is a bigger fly than the picture may lead you to believe, they end up being about three inches.
My most common tie is brown with x-large lead eyes and pink or yellow accent but you can certainly mix things up. The thin tie combined with the heavy eyes does cause one problem though, carp often miss it. It seems to be so heavy with not enough materials that they cannot always hoover it off the bottom.
The only remedy we can find to this problem is using a short strip set when you see the take. The carp will often chase and make another attempt. To the carp it probably seems like a stubborn crawfish clinging to the bottom for dear life.
While we’ve never given this simple pattern a name, we have started calling them “pimps” or “carp pimp” for their bright accent colors.
Carp Pimp with materials in tying order:
Hook- Daiichi 2151 in size 1 (but you could certainly downsize)
Eyes- silver lead eyes
Tail- brown marabou
Body- tan yarn
Accent- pinch of marabou
Flash- one inch light blue tinsel just in front of accent
Collar- brown schlappen
Alex Landeen was part of Beaver Bash 2014 and the photos he took while on the island were incredible. I often start thinking that I’m really coming along as a photographer until I spend a day with a pro like Alex.
In talking with Alex and reading his posts it becomes obvious that Beaver Island now holds a special place in his heart, as it does with most who spend any time here. This may be us guides favorite content on Beaver Island fishing and is well worth reading.