MATCH THE BERRY HATCH

Fol­low this sweet and juicy at­tack plan to land huge carp on the fly

Field and Stream - - CONTENTS - By Joe Cer­mele

How a sim­ple lit­tle fruit fly can score gi­gan­tic carp. By Joe Cer­mele

Carp are to­tal jerks. Stalk them on the flats or in a clear river when they’re feed­ing on for­age, like nymphs and cray­fish, and they’ll snub your bugs, spook when you cast, and drive you to the brink of rod-snap­ping mad­ness. Or you can look for some un­der a mul­berry tree, where they’ll feed with the same care­free vigor as a school of farm-pond bluegills. De­pend­ing on where you live, mul­berry trees fruit from May through Au­gust, and if there are branches over­hang­ing a river, rest as­sured ev­ery sin­gle carp in the area knows where to find them. As the breeze shakes berries off the tree, the carp swarm, and they can get so fo­cused on gulp­ing the juicy morsels off the sur­face that they’ll let their nor­mally ex­ple­tive-in­duc­ing guard down. This is your chance to nail a golden gi­ant on the fly. Here’s how.

It’s a Breeze

Wind is no friend of the fly-caster, but in the mul­berry game, it can be your best buddy; the more berries hit­ting the wa­ter, the more fren­zied the carp get. On days with a stiff breeze, I’ve wit­nessed dozens of carp lin­ing up down­stream of a tree like sur­face-feed­ing trout, mov­ing in for a berry, then slid­ing to the back of the line to set up again. Of course, if there’s not a breath of wind, I may or may not have pur­posely snagged a tree a time or two just to give the branches a lit­tle shake and get the party started.

Sound Off

The plop of a mul­berry hit­ting the wa­ter is what draws dis­tant carp to the tree, and if your fly doesn’t closely match the sur­faces­mack­ing tone of a nat­u­ral berry, it can get re­fused—es­pe­cially if the feed­ing ac­tiv­ity isn’t hot and heavy. Carry foam berry flies with dif­fer­ent den­si­ties—some cut from thick foam, others made of trimmed foam strips—so you can dial in the right notes. Color mat­ters as well, so bring flies in a range from dark pur­ple through bright red to match the cur­rent ripeness of the berries.

Short Lead

Usu­ally when you’re fly­fish­ing for carp, you want to lead the fish by a good dis­tance, giv­ing it time to find the fly on its own. But with mul­berry flies, you want to prac­ti­cally hit the carp in the face. These fish have poor eye­sight, so they’ll hear a berry, rise to sip it, and then drop back down. So pick a fish that’s mov­ing to­ward the tree and plop your fly a foot in front of its snout. Most of the time that fish will strike; if it doesn’t, don’t ex­pect it to fol­low your fly. Just strip in and be ready to cast at the next tar­get.

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