Common carp and grass carp are two similar but very different fish. I have a book on carp flies beside me and it gives a disclaimer that the book is full of flies for common carp, not grass carp. It makes clear that beyond the physiological and behavioral differences between grass carp and common carp, there is a major dietary difference. Grass carp are herbivores. They like salads. It takes an entirely different set of flies to catch grass carp and most of the books don’t address the patterns. The book I am looking at has hundreds of patterns for carp, not one of them is specifically for grass carp and the author admits that grass carp flies “are beyond the scope” of his book.
Grass carp, the ones stocked in my subdivision pond to keep the aquatic vegetation in check, exhaust my patience and even infuriate me sometimes. During the summer I stalk them, but they have excellent eyesight and often spook from just the vibration of my footsteps. I stalk redfish from my kayak but grass carp I don’t even attempt to approach in my kayak. They often spook on the first cast while the fly line is still in the air, just from the sight or shadow of the line. Yep, summertime grass carp are tough. Most of the hero pics with carp are with common carp, not grass carp.
Certainly I am no grass carp expert, but I have learned one thing on my own, simply from experience working on the few local grass carp I have at my disposal. That “one thing” is that though grass carp are finicky fish, I am able to catch them in the early spring on regular flies, topwater and submerged.
I think the grass carp in the early spring, when they are coming out of dormancy, are hungry, but it’s too soon for the green stuff they love. Just like a couple of vegans my wife and I went to dinner with one time (true story), when the wife vegan was out of earshot the husband vegan admitted to me, “sometimes I just want a steak so bad!”, grass carp are the same way. I have heard from military people who have participated in survival training that “there is only about 24 hours between what you will eat and what you thought you wouldn’t eat”. That’s the way I think grass carp are in the early spring. They crave a salad but until the salads are in season, well a juicy bug will do. Anyway, I think that’s what happened to this triploid I caught yesterday. He was hungry and ate the first bug (steak) he saw, which was tied to my tippet.
So if you want to catch the local behemoth in your subdivision pond, now, which is the middle of March, is the time. Tempt him with the promise of meat, he might just be looking for a steak.