Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Favorite places to fish around the country

I've been fortunate to have fished in a lot of places with some really great people. I've fished throughout Florida, in Costa Rica, Michigan, Ohio, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky and Canada.

I've enjoyed every stop.

My favorite?

Hard to say. Each place has its own charm.

Let it be known that I'm just as happy catching bluegill on a light fly rod as I am casting for bonefish on a shallow flat.

One of my favorite outings took place this summer when I got to pursue two species that I'd never caught on fly rod: carp and smallmouth bass.

When people think of carp, I'm sure they envision the bottom-feeders found in pay lakes and midwestern rivers. Well, a funny thing happened on the way ... people discovered fly fishing for carp. They're wary targets that can be tough. They fight hard and make long runs.

I'd read about the flats of Grand Traverse Bay in Michigan. And since my wife and I were renting a house on a lake near there, I decided to give it a try.

I got some information from a guy on He gave me directions to the flat and a few pointers. He also told me to stop in and see Kirk Novak, owner of The Northern Angler fly shop in Traverse City.

I wasn't prepared for what I was about to encounter. When I got to the flat, I saw hundreds of carp milling around. Some were schooled up and going through some sort of spawning rituals. Others were swimming around. I'd been told to ignore the schools and cast to single fish.

I hooked my first carp in less than 5 minutes.

The fight was strong and impressive. The fish made a lengthy run. You have to play these fish; you just can't reel them in.

First day out, I caught and released nine carp to 20 pounds. Next day was even better. I caught 15, with the largest going an estimated 35 pounds. Luckily, there was another fellow fly fishing for carp who was able to get a photo of me and the big fish.

I used a 6-weight TFO Finesse rod, Cortland reel, floating line, 10-foot 10-pound leaderl and a Befus Carp Fly.

I found the best technique for me was to cast the fly in front the fish. If the carp turned and followed the fly, I'd let it fall to the bottom and let it lie. Most often, the fish would swim up on the fly and suck it in.

A cold front moved through and the carp disappeared. But that gave me time to try for smallmouth. I did well. I got 14 to 5 pounds.

Michigan is a great place to fish.

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