Earlier this summer one of Steve’s customers, about half way through a somewhat frustrating day, asked Steve to give his rod a throw and see what he thought about it. Steve grabbed the rod, looked out and threw at the closest carp. A few strips and a hook-set later and the rod was doubled on a carp. The customers reaction was how the did you get a fish with one cast after I’ve shown the fly to so many.  The fact was, that after endless opportunities, the customer had only put the fly in the strike zone to a couple fish.

Our effective zone for smallmouth on a hot bite may be thirty feet, for carp it is three straight feet in front of them. I like to picture an orange construction cone with the small end at the carp’s head, that makes a good reference for a three-demensional strike zone.

To be good at carp you must: 1) make a cast that doesn’t spook the fish. 2) place the fly in the strike zone.  3) give the proper presentation for the situation. 4) allow and possibly make them eat once their interested.

The best tip I can offer is to only have as long of a leader as you need to get the fly to the level of the fish. In anything less than three feet of water, I like five feet from the end of the fly line to the fly. Using the end of my fly line as a reference, that short leader allows me to know exactly where my fly is — when the end of the fly line is a carp length past the fish the fly will be right in front of their face.

michigan carp fishing

Fishing on the Beaver Islands has been good this summer despite the cool turbulent weather. Each day we watch the weather forecast flip-flop, clouds quickly come and go with the wind circling the compass. We dream of steady sun and a consistent wind, allowing the carp to build in numbers, warm up and become happy and hungry.

Our guess is that it is the miles of flooded vegetation that are turning poor weather into good fishing. The carp love the weeds and if you look hard enough you can almost always find then, even on a cool rainy day.

Water temps are in the high 50′s with the shallows on a sunny day hitting the 70′s. With shallower fish, our flies have dropped down to the 2-3 inch range and a bit lighter than we often throw — weighted with med lead eyes versus large. My best color has been black but purple might be making a run for the top choice.

fly fishing carpbeaver island carp fishingcarp on the fly

Mirror Carp on Beaver Island

Most people would think that big old Lake Michigan changes at a glacial pace but I’m continually impressed at how the opposite is true. In the past decade we’ve watched the waters become crystal clear as a result of countless filtering invasive zebra mussels. A few years ago invasive gobies moved into every nook and cranny, shifting our carps diet to larger prey, thus making our standard fly go from an inch to three, four and even five inches. Though this summer the gobies seem to be on the decline with only a few smaller ones here and there, possibly in correlation to less gobies our carp are again love’n everything crawfish.

I’ve always caught mirror carp in Traverse City but we’ve never caught one up at Beaver. This year we’ve seen several and have caught one already. Why? Where did they come from?

beaver island carp

Beaver Island has been blessed with several days of mellow wind, something we don’t see very often. If the carp are spooky, flat calm conditions can be a real curse. Most often with flat water the carp either jump when the fly hits the water or they shy away after seeing the line shadow.

I’m happy to say spooky has not been the case the past several days. In fact, by carp standards, some of them have been downright aggressive. We’ve had many flip around for a fly while on a fast cruise, some have eagerly turned toward a fly hitting the water and I even had one take on the surface after my fly hung on a clump of grass — that was a first for me. beaver island carp fishinglake michigan carp fishingcarp on the fly