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john montana

30.5 lbs!

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Completely Awesome! I hope I get a second chance at chasing down a few Columbia carp later this year :rolleyes:

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Guest Long-Haired Dave

Hot dam! I think I'd give my left arm for one shot A YEAR at a carp over 20#! Let alone all the hogs I've seen you post the last couple of years. You must be absolutely crammed with big fish over there.

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Thanks guys...the columbia is quite a fishery! I would say the average fish out here is between 7-9 lbs, but without a doubt there are certain water types that you can find a larger avg. I've landed 9 fish this year that weighed over 20 lbs (I do carry a small digital scale) and last year I got 14 over 20. Last year is really the first time I figured out how to find the big fish...before that it was just a matter of lucking onto one on a normal flat. Out here, the big fish frequent different water. They stay out deep, and only occasionally go in shallow. At least that has been my experience. I'd love to fish lake MI, I know the average fish there is bigger than the columbia...one day i'll get to those flats!

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Thanks guys...the columbia is quite a fishery! I would say the average fish out here is between 7-9 lbs, but without a doubt there are certain water types that you can find a larger avg. I've landed 9 fish this year that weighed over 20 lbs (I do carry a small digital scale) and last year I got 14 over 20. Last year is really the first time I figured out how to find the big fish...before that it was just a matter of lucking onto one on a normal flat. Out here, the big fish frequent different water. They stay out deep, and only occasionally go in shallow. At least that has been my experience. I'd love to fish lake MI, I know the average fish there is bigger than the columbia...one day i'll get to those flats!

Thanks for the hints John, but you can't just tease us and expect us to let you get away with that. This post gave me a kick in the pants to find some bigger fish. I have been catching many smaller fish in the 18 to 22 class and can and do catch multiples of those almost on demand, but I have become lazy. Today, I got in the car put on about 110 miles checking out about 7 new spots. Still didn't find anything larger that what I am finding within 6 to 8 minutes from the house. :yourock:

So this Wisconsin boy isn't coming to Montana to fish any time soon, and I am not asking about specific water but water types. Seems that I do this type of post about once a year for the last couple of years, but what are you looking for in water types? I think from previous posts we talked about fist size boulders with deep water close by. This brings up another point that you teased us with. Did you sight fish that fish and the other larger fish or were you blind casting into deeper water?

I talked to my fishing partner today and told him we were on a small fish pattern. We have been fishing many shoals of small fish clooping. They are easy to see on top in the muddy water and we have been having fun with dry fly patterns this year where in years past I would fish mostly for tailers in clearer water.

So water deepth and your description of the different kind of water that you have found that larger fish are hanging around. I'm still damn jealous but willing to learn. :rolleyes:

Rick

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There don't seem to be any hard and fast rules with regard to carp, and the only thing I know enough to say for certain is that I am certainly no expert. I have fished to and caught enough carp now to at least make a few statements based on observable things, but I wouldn't draw too many serious conclusions from any item listed below.

Water Depth

The number one factor in the areas that I have found more big carp is water depth. That is not to say that I only find carp in deep water. In fact, I've caught plenty of 20 + lbers in just inches of water with 1/3 of their body out of the water. I've had zero success blind casting to carp unless it was nymphing below a dam, and 100% of my carp caught here in OR are sight fished. I don't even cast unless I can see them. The main feature that screams big carp water to me isn't actual deep water, but access to deep water. I don't think I've ever caught a big fish (20 or better) that ran more than 20 ft to get to water that was waist deep or better. I just flat out don't find the big boys way up on a flat with a hundred feet to waist deep water. Instead, I find them in places where they can bolt in seconds to 4-10 ft deep water. The frustrating thing here is that with that nearby deep water in which to hide, it is often a timing thing. I might look at the same mini flat twice in one day (walking in, walking out) and see a big fish on it once, or twice, or not at all. Sometimes a big boy chooses the wrong moment to feed in the spot where it can be caught. More often then not, they are pretty safe only hopping into the shallow water for a short time to feed, then heading back into the depths.

Bottom Structure

If I'm looking for big fish, I don't like mud or sand. In general, I look for rocks, the bigger the better. I like places where there are rocks that you have to walk around, rather than over...places where being stealthy is tough because you are tripping and slipping around. Cobble is good...softball size rocks are better, and rocks the size of my dad's belly are better yet. Mix in a few boulders you couldn't lift and I'd have my eyes peeled for a big tail.

General Traffic

I don't fish for big fish near a boat launch, beach, or anything of that sort. I just do not see 20 + lb fish in an area where there are regular people.

Again, I don't claim to know what big carp like. Out here I've found that when I look for combinations of the stuff above, I find more big carp. It seems to me that the big boys like to be safe, have access to food, and to be left alone. Walking water that drops off quickly and is covered in big slippery rocks that make it impossible to be sneaky is tough. I spook more fish than I cast to, that is for sure and on days that I hunt big fish, I don't see nearly as many fish. It is a total trade off...hit the big flats and cast at many targets, or peck around the edges and look for a big fish. Only on the rare occasion do I find a place where the numbers/size coincide.

The only other thing I'll add about big fish...don't expect to get close to them. If I see a big tail breaking the surface 100 ft away, I start my first cast at no closer than 60 ft. Sneaking up within a rod length of a 20+ lber is mostly about sheer luck. Cast when you see them, don't wait for the perfect shot.

Take the above massive pile of text with a huge grain of salt. These things have worked for me, but we all know how tough carp can be, and I am a long way from figuring them out. I would love to hear from some of the guys that fish bait...they catch a LOT bigger fish than I do!

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John, thanks for taking the time to share some grand words of wisdom with the rest of us in search of bigger fish. Love your sense of modesty and your experience level, those two combined traits are rare these days. I know that I need to make a gear shift as far as locations go. For me I have to make a conscious decision to either go to the same old spots with many smaller fish or do the leg work to find new locations. I've been fishing the local river often. There are some larger lakes close by that I have to hit. Again, thanks for the primer on big fish.

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Guest Windknot

John, Thanks for the info. Another question. When casting to a fish 60 feet away, how do you know when the fish has taken the fly? And how often do you attempt to set the hook and find that the fly has not been taken and spook the fish? This seems to happen a lot to me.

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Windknot, detecting the take at a distance is the toughest part. In general I watch the fish. I usually try to put the fly slightly left or right of the fishes head. If you can do that successfully then the fish will have to turn slightly to take it. Let him turn, wait a beat and set the hook. K also watch the tail a lot. When they chow down the tail will often speed up to keep the carp in position so I will set the hook on the extra motion. You can always try to keep in contact with your fly and go by feel too,but I have better luck with the visual cues. The big keybis forcin the fish to turn it's head to eat. Even when casting at a big dark shape you can tell when the fish changes direction slightly.

Rough day today. My dad and Mr p got blanked. I squeaked out six but the wind was crushing.

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Guest Windknot

Thanks, John. I think you have given that advice to watch the body language of the fish before.

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