The carp spawn is one of my favorite short "seasons" if you could call it that. A lot of carp fisherman avoid the spawn because it is literally impossible to get the fish that are actively spawning to eat. It is, however, possible to catch what I call "outsiders", carp that follow the main spawning schools around and feed on the margins or actively search for the freshly lain eggs. It's very counterproductive. Carp lay eggs, then carp eat the eggs. It doesn't seem to matter, there are plenty of carp to go around.
The spawn also attracts other fish. panfish and bass often follow the carp hoping for caviar. I caught a 6 lb. smallmouth in this lake during the last carp spawn I fished (regrettably this was about 5 years ago).
On the first morning during which I fished the spawn I found a good number of small males cleaning up eggs. They were very moody due to the chaos going on around them. You would be too. I cannot think of a more violent mating ritual, and it shows on the fish. The one I landed yesterday was very much beat up. Scales are littered all over the place. And yet the fish seem to fight as though they were on steroids. Even the little guys will do 200 yard runs right now.
I broke my 8 wt. on the hook set that first morning. The take was a bit of a surprise. I noticed that some of the cruising fish would lunge for a big woolly bugger or backstabber like a bass, but this one came out of no where and at the fly only four feet in front of me. I couldn't think of a good way to set the hook so I just lifted abruptly at a sharp angle. Stupid idea. SNAP! Ah, well. It happens.
I decided to give the fiberglass rod my grandfather gave me a try. The last time I used it I had a six weight line on it and it didn't feel right. The eight was wonderful! I did a dry run in the yard and I knew I had found the right line for the old, unmarked rod. I went to the lake for an evening on tossing streamers and big topwater bass bugs. I discovered quickly that I could cast the full length of the fly line with only a few double hauls, and even shoot about ten feet of backing. I could do that with my eight weight and a heavy sink tip too, but it is not nearly as enjoyable as the fiberglass.
I did really well, getting the "bass slam"- rock, smallmouth, and largemouth.
This morning I was intent on landing my first carp on the glass rod. It took a while, there weren't nearly as many actively feeding fish, and the ones that were feeding were selectively working on carp eggs. I am not sure how to imitate carp eggs yet. I enjoyed watching the chaos though, and I had a few hookups too, all blind and I'm almost certain they were fouled. I don't mind loosing a foul hooked fish, in fact I intentionally try too loose them.
Eventually I found a fish that was feeding like a carp should- a happy fish. I had on a little generic grey carp nymph, I dropped it in front of him, and I watched him suck it in. It was all just picture perfect. The fight was going to be a task and a half... that I new for sure. It was a big fish in tight quarters with plenty of docks and ropes to hang up on. You know you'r in over your head when the fish is 30 yards into the backing and there is nothing but docks and posts and boat props between you and it. To make things more stressful I had an audience. A construction crew was doing work nearby and a few of the workers and a police officer would stop and watch periodically. After THREE runs into the backing I was able to get the fish close enough to work on it and tire it out properly. All the rubbing against dock pools had done a number on my leader, but as I have told many a jogger or resident that has stopped to watch me fight a fish, this was not my first rodeo. I knew this fish was going to come to hand, and it did. I'd guess 18 lbs.