Carpocalypse on The Juniata River

I’ve officially become addicted to catching carp on the fly rod. This weekend I wanted to fish bigger water in the hopes of finding some larger carp and I was on the fence about where to go. I was considering either the Schuylkill River north of the Auburn Dam, or the Juniata River. When faced with a dilemma like this I’ll reference the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission’s Best Fishing Waters website and see which location is ranked higher. I figure it makes sense to trust what the regional fisheries specialists think because they are out on the water a lot, talking to people and seeing pictures all the time. The Juniata is second on the list of carp waters. I’ve spent a lot of time fishing the Juniata for smallmouth bass, but I’d never been there to specifically target carp.

 One of three carp I landed on the Juniata River on Saturday.

One of three carp I landed on the Juniata River on Saturday.

Yesterday I woke early and drove north to the town of Lewistown, Pennsylvania, which sits right on the Juniata River. It was easy to access the river here because there’s a park right along the river in the center of town. I got on the water later than I wanted to, around 9:30am. However, recent experience has shown me that carp can be active feeders between 9:00-11:00am. The Juniata continues to be at perfect water levels for wading. I was able to wade across the entire river with the occasional deeper hole that I had to tiptoe across in my waders. There are a couple of bridges crossing the river in Lewistown. I waded near the bridges and observed the deeper water around the bridge piers looking for carp. When fishing new water for carp I’m looking for areas of dead or slack water that are deeper. These areas are especially promising when there is structure nearby.

When I reached the other side of the river I saw one such location. There was a deep pool under a tree near the bank. The tree provided shade and there were various logs crisscrossing each other under the water, providing great cover. I waded up to the edge of this area and observed and eventually saw a half dozen large carp cruising in the water. Most of these fish were on the bottom actively feeding. I tied on a micro-nuke egg and placed a small amount of weight on my line about six inches above the hook. After several minutes, I finally watched one of the larger carp swim over and suck up my fly. I set the hook and the fight was on. Unfortunately I thought I caught this entire battle on my GoPro but it turns out I forgot to press record. The fight was amazing and it took me maybe ten minutes to land this fish. Once landed I was able to get a picture and this ended up being one the largest carp I’ve ever caught on any fishing equipment. I estimated his length to be at 29”, based on measurements I took off of my fly rod. He definitely tested the limits of my fly rod and line. After releasing that fish I was able to go back to the same spot and hook up a second time with another good carp. I made sure my GoPro was on this time. That footage is in the video above.

 The third carp I caught on a micro-nuke egg, this fish was in the 25-26" range.

The third carp I caught on a micro-nuke egg, this fish was in the 25-26" range.

After leaving to grab some lunch, I came back and decided to walk downriver to explore. On my trip downriver I found another area with deep water. Here I found four large carp cruising not far from the bank and after a lot of patient waiting I was able to convince one of them to take my fly. He gave me another ten minute fight.  I was able to get this one on the GoPro too. I fished the rest of the afternoon and caught quite a few smallmouth, all under 10”. I had an otter fishing along side of me for a few minutes later in the day. I enjoy catching warm water fish but I can’t help but think about the king and coho salmon that will begin entering the rivers of western New York in the next couple of weeks.