That carp took a black woolly bugger the first time it was presented to it. I was standing in full view of the fish at rod length with absolutely nothing obscuring that bright red tee. The fish showed no signs of noticing that was there, when it surely would have spooked violently at most times of day. The deciding factor of this fish catch? It was 10:00 at night.
Noah tipped me off to this interesting nocturnal behavior three days prior. He had seen carp feeding on minnows while jogging along the shoreline, and when he inspected close he found that it seemed to be a fairly regular feeding pattern. Carp were coming into the area around this particular dock and feeding under the streetlights. And they were oddly unaware of the presence of a waiting angler. I thought this would be a great opportunity to help another fishing friend, Ben Bilello, get into his first legally fly caught carp. He fouled a large one earlier this year while shad fishing, obviously that doesn't count.
I went out briefly the night before just to poke around an I found two giant panfish. I didn't really try to get a carp in the money spot because it would likely key them off to our presence.
Then came that fateful night. Ben and I fished all afternoon and saw a lot of neurotic and unusual behavior from the carp that made them extremely difficult to catch. And then came the after dark bite. Ben got tons of great shots at aggressively feeding carp... perfect shots actually... and the fish didn't eat and didn't turn the cold shoulder, they showed no signs of anything whatsoever. It was freakishly atypical. We worked through a bunch of different flies and none seemed to work better or worse. We probably had a couple hours worth of chances when made a fatal mistake. Ben was changing flies and I casually flipped my first and only cast. I made a drag and drop presentation and the fish turned and sucked in the fly. Immediate regret. I pretty much stole Ben's fish, and after we had put so much work in. I felt pretty bad about it.
Interestingly, that is the same fish had caught two nights before. That's the first time I've confirmed a repeat catch on a carp. I pretty pleased with that. I love seeing the same fish again. And I love most of all to let them swim off and say "by old friend, till next time".
Ben payed his dues this time. Next time is his turn. For real.