One of the first and best pieces of advice that Kevin gave me was: keep it really simple and go to a water with a high population of carp. He graciously gave me a list of a few of these places. This was huge for me. Until then I had been speculating on whether or not the waters I was fishing even had carp in them. If there are no carp around then you cannot catch them. DUH! I did what Kevin suggested and a few days after receiving his email I had landed my first common of about 14lbs. Incidentally, the very first fish I hooked came off at the last minute and I was, as the Brits say, “gutted”. I thought I would never get another chance to catch a carp. 5 fish were on the end of my line that day and I landed 2. I would come to learn that not all waters held carp and the ones that did were all different. Some had what seemed like an endless supply and some waters only held carp in isolated areas. Google-ing “Rhode Island + Carp” surfaced a few more potential waters. I even found a document dating back to 1900 that listed out waters known to be home to my scaly friends. As it turns out, carp had been introduced to our state in the late 1800’s, years before the prized Largemouth Bass. I visited a few more of these densely populated waters and caught from each. Eventually, the need arose to find locations near work as the venues that Kevin had shared were in the opposite direction of my office and I was beginning to be late to work regularly. In the spring, when I was blanking like it was fun, a fellow angler friend suggested we go out fishing for trout on the Blackstone as the local environmental agency (RIDEM) had just stocked the river. The location he took me to was a fast moving part of the river that ran parallel to a canal. It is a lovely location, and it has become one of my favorite places in the world. A few days later, my brother in-law showed me a video of some “very large” fish in that same canal displaying some strange behavior. He spotted them while traveling down the bike path that runs along the river. It was obvious to me that these were carp and perhaps they were spawning. The following morning, I was on the canal and I could see the carp mooching around. Hizza! Not only were there carp to be caught, but this location was on my way to work. That morning I caught my first mirror of about 8lbs on a chopped up boilie tipped with rubber corn. I lost another to some rocks. Being able to observe carp feeding was a real eye opener. Those lovely bubbles they produce have become something I look for anytime I am near water. I also learned to identify the way they displace water, it is unlike any other fish. My search continued. During lunch I would venture to places I had identified on a map and I would ultimately fish many of those locations. One particular venue was what I can only describe as, a shallow puddle. It’s a location that gets stocked with trout for children and I feel sorry for those poor trout because the water is dark olive green from the silty bottom. There is no way they survive there very long. An Internet article had tipped me off to the location when they mentioned that there was a “healthy” population of carp there and one afternoon I ditched work early to visit the puddle. When I arrived, I encountered a young man (younger than me) free lining pieces of bread at the water. I approached him and said, “I know what you’re doing!” We rambled on for a bit like a couple of excited school aged children and we exchanged details. He showed me pictures of some of the mirrors he had captured from the puddle. That evening I emailed Kevin and told him about my findings. I packed my gear into my car as I had become accustomed to doing and the following morning I was back at the puddle.
The water was quiet when I arrived but after a while the carp began to reveal their presence. That morning I met Kevin in person for the first time. We had corresponded back and forth a bit, but never met in person. I saw him from across the pond, carrying a cammo colored bucket, wearing polaroids, I knew it was him. He carefully observed the water and gradually made his way to where I was set up. “Are you carp fishing?”, he asked. “Yes”. “Are you Angel?” “Yes.” We shook hands and began chatting. He remarked on how shallow it was and seemed skeptical of the fish’s existence in the puddle. “They are in here, I’ve seen them.” I reassured him. He dropped some bait into parts of the pond and I recast one of my rods tight to a floating weed bed. The bank was narrow and as he made his way past my rods I asked him to check that my bait runner was flipped on. It’s a good thing I did because just a few minutes later, as we were talking, my alarm let off a few bleeps and I had a fish on. I tried my hardest not to play the fish like a complete novice and Kevin netted it for me. “That’s a good fish Angel.”, he said. A quick weighing revealed that it was a good fish. It was a mirror, my first 20 and it came from the shallow puddle. Kevin asked if I wanted a picture with it and I said, “Sure… but… I don’t touch them Kev. ” He seemed confused. “I don’t touch them; I’ve never lifted one. What should I do?” He made a joke about it and gave me some advice. I had never lifted a fish this size and I did so awkwardly. He reassured me and took my picture. It’s the only picture I have of myself holding a fish and I cherish it. Kevin went back the following morning and landed 3 fish.
Not long after the 20 from the puddle, the fish began to spawn. I read about this online and it seemed like the consensus was, leave them alone. I enjoyed watching the fish for a few mornings and I decided this was a good time to try and find fish somewhere else. If they were spawning here, maybe they would be spawning somewhere else and their existence would be obvious. This would tell me that they did in fact exist in a given location. I decided to visit a venue that I had fished before and had caught a species of bottom feeding fish but never carp. I arrived at the swim to find that there wasn’t any obvious spawning going on. I walked further and further down the bank until I came across what seemed like carp bubbles. It was getting closer to clock-in time at work but I just had to go get my rods from my car. Once I had a rod assembled, I tried casting to the bubbles but got tangled up in the trees. The swim was tight and my confidence was fading quickly. After a few failed attempts, I got a rig in the water. While waiting for a bite, I cranked up my bite alarms and explored further down the bank. This revealed a much better swim and I quickly moved all my gear down. As I set up my rods again, a mirror rolled on the water and I raised my arms in victory. A few minutes in, I had a screaming take but got cut off somehow. My confidence was still high and I re-rigged my rod, fed some sweet corn into swim and cast my rig back into water. It was about 10am and I was an hour late to work but I couldn’t leave. My tardiness would pay off in the end with a 17.5lb mirror. When I finally made it to the office, I was beaming. I had texted Kevin and he told me that this might have been the first carp out of this particular lake. If you wanna catch carp, you have to find them.
I’ve explored many places since then, sometimes fruitfully and sometimes in vain. I’ve blanked a whole lot. I’m not the type of angler who wants to sit in one spot forever. Exploring new swims is part of the thrill of fishing for me. Even when I am driving I cant help but glancing at a body of water I may be passing just incase I see a giant common rolling out of the water.
I’ll end my “origin” story there and I will tell you outright that carp fishing has become a major part of my life. I spend as much time on the bank as I can and any other free time I have I’m probably tying rigs, preparing particle baits or reading or watching something related. This of course has to be balanced with my family and work life. Ultimately it means that I get very little sleep at times, but just imagining what scaley monster I will hook into on those early mornings is enough to keep me awake.