When news of normalizing relations with Cuba broke headlines, many anglers began dreaming of direct flights to virgin turquoise Bonefish flats and the shimmer of tailing Permit. Of course when reality sets in, a delightful if somewhat more pedestrian alternative is just up the highway. You may not be able to afford Cuba but a corn dog and a tank of gas is all you need for an afternoon of tailing golden bonefish in the warm sun. That’s right, we’re talking about Carp.
The Carp in question, Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) first graced our fair Columbia River after the extremely wet spring of 1881 flooded a nursery pond in Troutdale and several thousand (!) genuine German specimens were liberated. These fish produce upwards of a million eggs a year, in no time one could buy piles of dead carp to fertilize your field for $5 a ton. But while they may be many, they are surprisingly clever and prove an exciting challenge to catch. You’ll never have to worry about other carp anglers encroaching on your bit of mud flat and you can pat yourself on the back for every one that you remove from the river’s ecosystem.
Precise casting to cruising carp is by no means easy. It’s an excellent way to hone your skills for that future trip to Cuba, Belize or the Yucatan — where you’ll also need to lay your fly very precisely with a whistling wind upping the challenge. You need a rod with oversize stripping guides, a reel seat the keeps your reel in, rods designed to cast in the windiest conditions, load quickly and cast with a high degree of accuracy. I choose to fish the CF Burkheimer 690-4SW though not designed as a bugler rod, it does function perfectly with its quick loading and pinpoint accuracy.
If you don’t have time for Trout or Steelhead and you just need to get off your computer, or if you’re bound by obligations for dinner or daycare, may I humbly recommend fly-fishing for Carp. Cuba will be there tomorrow, and you’ll be ready.