One of my first encounters with a Rhode Island carp was through a blog called “ricarpfishing”. The blog, written by local angler Dave Pickering, makes a bold claim; “Carp…The NUMBER ONE gamefish worldwide!” Mr. Pickering is a constant source of inspiration and checking his blog for updates has become a part of my morning ritual. Dave’s updates are something we all look forward to and the rate at which he catches fish is something we all aspire to. Having set the bar incredibly high at 1300+ fish in 2015, catching a RI CAG State record carp at 36lbs in 2011, it’s questionable when or if anyone will ever even come close. I had the opportunity to interview Dave this week, here is what he had to say.
How long have you been fishing for carp? Do you remember the first one you ever caught?
I have been seriously fishing for carp for the last 25 years. I landed my first one when I was a kid. I lived just about on the Blackstone River in Woonsocket and I frequently fished there for horned pout. One day I hooked a “big one” on a worm and it turned out to be about a six pound carp. It was a thrill. Back then, I saw them often but had no idea how to catch them. There was no info around back then on carp fishing.
How long have you been RI CAG President? What motivated you to take on that role?
I have been the RI CAG Chairman for about ten years now and I am one of the longest serving state chairmen at CAG. I enjoy this role of organizing things and setting up events here in RI. Quite frankly, I took on this role because I was the lone member of CAG in RI at the time. The President of the group asked me to take on the role and try to “grow” the organization. I think I did that and we now have one of the most active carp states in the entire US.
I understand you are retired and fish quite a bit, what was your fishing like before retirement?
I always fished a lot. Even before retirement, I fished almost every day with a lot of it going on at night. Back then, I was content to catch 100-200 carp a year. Since retirement, I realize I can get about a thousand a year. Maybe I am putting in a bit more time, maybe I am getting better at it. Always learning!
Do you have a general “philosophy” you have when fishing for carp?
Not really. I just get out and do my thing. I like to move around a lot and find new spots to fish. I also like to experiment with baits. I guess you could say I am still a student of the game and am always looking to learn more as far as spots, techniques and baits.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever seen a carp do?
Hooking into a double is both the strangest and most exciting thing in carp fishing. My most memorable double was when both rods went off at EXACTLY the same time. When I got both fish in, the small one was 31 lbs. and the large one was 33 lbs. I’m guessing that will never happen again in my lifetime.
What is one piece of gear you would never go fishing without?
With carp fishing, the most valuable piece of gear is the baitrunner reel. It’s a must for any serious carper.
I’ve read about a rig on your blog where a pop up is suspended about 5 inches above the lead. Do you use pop ups much?
I use small pop ups a lot. When fishing for bigger fish, I almost always use them. The pop up adds buoyancy as well as color to my offering and that has big time appeal for the carp. Those pop ups that I use include 10 mm boilies, 8 mm boilies as well as artificial corn. I love ESP artificial corn in light colors. White, pink and orange have all worked real well for me.
If you had to pick one thing that has contributed to your success, what would it be?
The ability to find new spots where no one else fishes. I often get in on something hot that no one has a clue about. I can tell you right now I will find a new spot next year that no one has ever fished and I will get dozens, if not hundreds of fish from that location. I might also get a monster fish. It all takes a lot of time and effort.
Bait and wait or stay mobile?
My approach is to have in mind several spots to fish. I might stay and hour or two in one location and if nothing, I will move. Hey, this is RI where you can drive from one end of the state to another in an hour. Loads of spots to fish. Most people make the mistake of staying in once location way too long.
Braid, Mono or Fluorocarbon?
I use mono for my mainline. I like 15 or 20 lb. test Berkley Big Game line. Mono has a soft feel, which is great when fighting a fish, and it is abrasion resistant. I tried braided line and did not like it. I use 50 lb. test Power Pro braid for my hooklinks.
What is something you would like to improve on?
I am fascinated with the bigger river systems in New England. I would like to get to know them better because of the tremendous potential to catch some monster fish in these places. I am talking the CT River as well as the Merrimack River. While I have caught a lot of carp in these, I know I have only scratched the surface.
Do you have any “goals” left in your carp fishing?
I would love to be the first angler in RI to land a 40 lb. carp in RI waters. That would take a lot of skill and a lot of luck, but I do have an idea of where I might find it. I did release a 36 lber. (biggest carp and fish ever taken in RI waters) five years ago. Who knows what that fish weighs now?
I also would love to tangle with a 50 outside of RI. I do think those big out of state river systems could hold a 50 lb. carp. I’ve landed two 40’s in my career. Why not a 50?
Any thoughts on the carp scene in Rhode Island?
Lots more guys fishing in RI, but they are all basically fishing in the same overfished spots. I will say most of the serious guys I know in RI are very conservation minded and they do a real good job on carp care and catch and release fishing. RI has become a hotspot for carp fishing and I think that will continue in the future.