Cloudy Day Lake Michigan Carp Tactics

Kevin and Steve send the following from Beaver Island. Apparently they’re had a few cloudy days. I need to get up there bad.

When you wet wade into a pocket full piss warm water, you know happy carp can’t be far away. They like the water so warm they have to gulp air every now and then just to stay alive.

Unfortunately though, it is not always this hot in Northern Michigan. Rainy or even cloudy days will prevent shallow areas from warming up. The carp have no reason to move from safe deep water to the hazards of the shallows if they don’t offer any thermal advantages. On these days you really have to hunt for fish and when you find them you’ll be lucky if any are shallower than four feet. Look for them in the standard warm water areas, but instead of being on the shelf, they will typically be just off the shelf in the transition zone to deeper water or in the deeper pockets on the shelf itself.

Our standard carp flies, on our standard floating lines, sink at about 4 to 12 inches per second. To get that fly to a carp slowly moving in six feet of water will take you between six and eighteen seconds. This is generally too long to accurately predict their movement and thus to accurately present the fly in the zone.

One option to target deeper carp is the use of sink tips. However, it is often quite difficult to know where your fly is when using a sink tip. You can almost always keep a visual mark on the end of your floating line and therefore have some fairly accurate idea of where your fly is. Knowing the location of your fly is absolutely critical to carp angling as it needs to be within, at most, a few feet of Mr. Magoo before he can even see it. So generally we do not fish sink tips to deeper fish.

The most effective method we have found to present flies to deeper fish is to lengthen leaders and fish very heavy flies on floating lines. While lengthening the leader will impair your ability to know the location of the fly precisely, we find we can be far more accurate with a long leader than with a sink tip. You always have the tip of your fly line to use as a reference and often you can follow the fly as it sinks into the zone.

The Martinez Depth Charge is Steve’s bread-and-butter pattern for going deep. Compact and heavy, he ties it on a loop knot so it can hinge on the eye of the hook and sink head first instead of level- anything to help get it down faster. Click here to get the recipe for this carp fly.

You’ll have to cast the Depth Charge well away from the targeted fish and strip it back to them. When this fly hits the water, especially in wind when your forcing it, trying to pull something off in a pinch, changing direction 30 degrees in mid cast at the last second, it’s like small ammunition fire and carp are not fond of plunks on the surface.

When you have the cloudy weather carp blues, tie on a Depth Charge and make the most of your day. A tough day of fishing always beats sitting on the dock.

Kevin and Steve are on Beaver Island through July. If you’ve ever wanted to fly fish for some of the world’s biggest carp in some of the world’s most beautiful freshwater, you should probably book a trip.

Click on the images to enlarge.

Comments are closed.