Mountain Lake Carpin’
Please don’t get me wrong I love trout. I love big trout, small trout, stocked trout, and wild trout. Guiding folks for our colorful trout here in the mountains has been a full time job for me for over twenty years now and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
There is however another species of fish that lives up here in the hills of North Georgia that drives me bonkers. When I’m not on the river with folks I love chasing carp on the fly rod. There I said it it’s out in the open now, I’m a closet carper. The golden ghost or its cousins inhabit almost every river, lake and mud hole in North America. Disdained by most everyone the lowly carp can put your twenty- inch brown to shame in the wary, cunning, and plain out aggravating category. As one of the greats of fly fishing once said “fly fishing for carp is a lot like fly fishing for bonefish but harder”.
Stalking common carp on the mud flats in some of our mountain lakes is so close to being equivalent to the saltwater flats for redfish sometimes you have to look up at the surrounding mountains to tell the difference. Wading or poling up on a flat on Lake Nottely or Lake Chatuge in the heat of summer one should watch for muds or puffs or cloudy water surrounded by clear water. Almost without fail if you look hard enough you’ll see old bugle lips going about his business picking up nymphs, crayfish or vegetation. A spot on careful presentation within the sight window of the feeding fish is extremely important. He has to notice your fly and get excited enough to stop what he’s doing and come eat your fly. Some days a carp will move three feet and pounce on your offering and other days you’ll swear he’s blind and that’s the aggravating part!
Flies that mountain lake carp seem to like are Brown Wooly Buggers, Rubber Legged Dragons in Black, Olive, or Brown and Swimming Nymphs all in about size 8 or 10. A five or six weight fly rod will suffice for the regular standard five pounders, but you may have to go a bit heavier if you find some double digit fish tailing for dinner. A nine foot 3x leader is usually sufficient and is small enough to get by with if the water is gin clear which the case on my home lake of Chatuge is often. A strip set is in order if he takes it and get ready to see the backing on your reel on his first run. Get used to it, if you decide to chase the golden ghost on our awesome Georgia mountain lakes! Come by Southern Highroads Outfitters in beautiful Blairsville, Ga. or give us a call at 706-781-1414 for the latest information on fly fishing in North Georgia.