May 25, 2011
European-Style Carp Fishing Catching on With American Anglers?
By Chad Love
Many fly anglers have embraced the unique experience of chasing "freshwater bonefish, but is European-style carp fishing finally beginning to hook the attention of American anglers?
From this story in the Bellingham Herald:
Rich Sowders used to fish almost exclusively for walleye and steelhead. Then he started selling some European carp fishing tackle in his Little Dipper Bait and Tackle shop in Flat Rock, Mich. "I decided that if I was going to sell this stuff, I should learn how to use it," Sowders said as he removed the hook from the rubbery lips of a 17-pound carp he hooked on the Saginaw River during a fish-in with the Michigan chapter of the Carp Anglers Group.
"It took no time before I was hooked, and I started bringing in all the tackle I could get. Problem is I became my own best customer," he said. "Once you've caught a couple of these big bruisers, it's just addictive."
Long recognized as a superior game fish in Europe, common carp have suffered from cultural and environmental biases since they were introduced to North America from Europe about 150 years ago to replace native game fish that were extirpated by pollution, overfishing and dams. Only distantly related to the Asian carp now threatening to enter the Great Lakes from the Illinois River system (they're about as close as deer and cattle), Asian carp spread quickly across North America, where they destroyed the habitat in many lakes and rivers.
Carp are now found in every state except Alaska, and in addition to their reputation for environmental damage they are reviled as toxin laden "bottom feeders" by American anglers, who have long equated success with putting fish on the table.
"If you look at the European catalogs and Web sites, you realize that the sky's the limit as far as tackle goes," Sowders said. "It's kind of like fly-fishing, with lots of companies selling $700 rods and $400 reels and other stuff. That helps in places like England where it's really hard to catch carp, but it's not needed in most places here. You can buy a carp outfit for $2,500 or $25."
Anyone tried it? Anyone willing to try it?