A Nancyboy's guide to fighting Lake Michigan carp.

Trevor - the wood applied.
Most of my experience with large powerful fish has been with stripers. These contests are typically short, brutal affairs decisively settled with a beefy eight inch streamer knotted to a four foot straight piece of 20 lb. mono.  This is a practical, no-nonsense set-up that frankly leaves little room for drama. I can lean into the rod and break the fish down quickly, even when he has the advantage of river current at his back.

It's different though with large powerful carp. This is a finer game played with long tapered whatever-X leaders and relatively small flies, tools that can suddenly seem awfully inadequate when a pod of 20 lb. Lake Michigan heavies cruises within casting range. Some discretion is wise.

Some. But not too much.

In Michigan I was at the "too much" end of things, playing the carp too long and babying the precious tippet like a tulip-jumping Nancyboy when I should have instead been drawing from striper lessons, applying a heavy dose of relentless pressure to bring the fish to heel quickly.

Trevor was quick to call me out on it.

"Gotta put the wood to him man!"

"Dude, you're gonna have to get his head up if you want me to net him."

"Gotta turn his head!"

To his credit he didn't finish these statements with "you idiot", but I think maybe he wanted to.

It didn't take long to realize that Trevor and Miles were landing their fish in half the time it took me to bring one to the net. They were merciless killers who put the pressure on the fish from the get-go and kept it there.


Miles - post wood application


It was, let's be honest, a learning experience. Sometimes it turns out that you don't know as much about a thing as you think you do. But in the end that's a gap you can close if you're paying attention. Ultimately I lost a couple of nice fish through some embarrassingly inept line handling and general screwing up of the playing process.  A comeuppance of sorts? You bet. But the lessons have been learned and duly noted.

Nancy plays a fish.