Carp on Lower Penns Creek

I still can’t kick this carp on the fly rod addiction. When I was up near Selinsgrove fishing for smallmouth I had taken some time in the afternoon to explore lower Penns Creek. The water on this part of Penns is deep and slow and large areas are covered with vegetation in the summer. It is vastly different than the portions of Penns that flows through Bald Eagle State Forest. I spooked several large schools of large carp when I was scouting this lower section. I couldn’t get those fish out of my head so on Saturday I was up at 5:00am and out the door heading north again. I got on the water around 7:00am and started wading my way through the thick vegetation towards some open water further upstream. This was the lowest I’ve seen Penns Creek all year. The water was slightly stained and I found one of the spots where I'd previously seen carp. This spot has a large tree that’s blown down into the creek and the branches make for perfect fish cover.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about fly fishing for carp, it’s that you need to be stealthy. These fish will spook at the smallest vibrations in the water. I heard on a podcast that this is because a carp’s swim bladder is connected to its eardrum. This allows it to easily sense any local water disturbance. There was about a 6-foot ring of open water around this fallen tree and then there was heaving vegetation. I waded into the vegetation so fish couldn’t see my profile underwater. I stood and observed for a few minutes. Sure enough, after a couple of minutes, several large carp swam out of the fallen tree limbs to investigate the small noises I’d made wading into the area. I’ve also found that you need to be patient and let carp settle after you’ve moved into an area to fish. After several minutes, the carp came out of the fallen tree one by one and started feeding on the flats near the bank. I tied on my yellow egg pattern and used two small earth colored split shot about 6 inches above the fly to get down on the bottom. After a handful of casts, one of the larger carp took my fly and wow what a battle. This fish was very aggressive for the first couple of minutes and made a commotion. You can watch this fight in the video above. As the fight went on, the fish got into the vegetation and this slowed him a bit but he was hard to get to hand because of his weight. Every time I’d go to grab him, he’d be off again. Eventually I got him over to the shore, weighed him and took a picture. He weighed just a hair under 16 pounds and was around the 30 inch mark.

The second carp I landed that went on an incredible run downstream.

The second carp I landed that went on an incredible run downstream.

Over the next hour I had four more hook-ups. Three carp took me right into the tree and no matter how hard I pulled on my 7wt Winston I couldn’t get these fish to turn. As soon as they'd get to a limb, the 1X line would snap. I was able to land another nice carp that wasn’t quite as large as the first, but he took me for a blistering 25-yard run.

After several hookups I was no longer seeing carp at the tree, so I waded upstream. I ended up spooking a few carp, but then the sun was rising high and it was too humid and warm to be on the water. I headed home for the day. This carp on the fly thing is so much fun and I’m surprised more people don’t do it. It is also great practice for fighting big fish and I figure in the least, it is getting me ready for the salmon run in September!