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updated: 2/1/2012 12:57 PM

Quit carping and go for some big lake carp

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  • Paul Melchior, here with a river carp caught with his fly rod, has lots of advice at his website,

    Paul Melchior, here with a river carp caught with his fly rod, has lots of advice at his website,
    Submitted photo


If nothing else happens in my lifetime, I can honestly say that I cannot please every single reader here or every listener to my radio show. And I've never claimed to be fair, objective, or super-accurate.

If nothing else, I have tried to be entertaining.

So with all that up front, I'll share with you what happened recently at the recent outdoors show in Rosemont.

I just finished a nice conversation with a lodge owner when a chap walked up to me and claimed he read this column and listened to my radio program. I suspected he may have been intoxicated because the fumes were just rolling off his body.

He proceeded to lambaste me about my past columns in this newspaper and comments on my radio show in which I extolled the virtues of carp fishing. It took almost five minutes before he completely melted down. I thanked him for his comments and opinion and started to walk away. It was then that a long string of expletives came jumping out of his mouth.

That evening I decided to write a column about fly fishing for carp in Lake Michigan and area rivers.

There was a period in my life when I couldn't even look at a carp, let alone fish for them. But along came noted angler and writer Jason Lucas, a master of the fly and written word. It may have been 40 or 50 years ago when he opened my eyes to the joys of finding and catching Lake Michigan carp on super-light tackle, using a fly rod.

I called fly-fishing instructor and trip packager Paul Melchior ( for a slight refresher course on Lake Michigan carp angling.

Here's what he suggested if an angler desires to use a fly rod to go after carp.

"Use a rod and line between 7 and 9 weight," he noted. "A 9-foot leader is all right, but you should have a reel loaded with lots of backing and have a strong drag system."

Paul suggests we look to Wisconsin for big carp. He suggested areas in Door County, such as Bailey's Harbor and Sturgeon Bay. His own experiences had him wading the shallow areas of those locations, almost like bone fishing in Florida's famous flats areas in the Keys.

I must note that I have caught many large carp with spinning and casting gear, and to this day I like to refer to them as freshwater tarpon, with steam engine power to take any angler for quite a ride. And if the fisherman is wading, it can take every ounce of strength and energy to win the battle.

The choice of flies is up to you. Paul suggests medium-sized, hook-sitting-upward versions that resemble shrimp, or some kind of bottom crawler. Expect to find the bruisers relating to the bottom or close to it, generally with their noses probing the muck and mud.

You will see lots of carp in Waukegan Harbor, but it's difficult to entice them to strike.

Late spring or early summer are prime seasonal periods for better action, especially when the water temperature reaches the 70-degree mark.

Kevin Morlock at is one of those angling wunderkinds who knows the score on these fish. He's touted as an excellent guide in the northern waters.

I have yet to take a monster carp from the upper and lower Fox River. But I did tie into a hefty fish on the Rock River near Rockford. My heaviest carp so far was 40 pounds, caught on live bait from the Minnesota River near St. Paul.

I can remember fishing a night crawler on Christiana Creek in Elkhart, Ind. I was using a light spinning rod, light reel, 4-pound mono, and a small spinner ahead of the No. 8 hook. A carp inhaled the crawler and took off downstream. I couldn't stop the fish. It had pure locomotive energy, as had every other carp I caught over the years. But it's the fly rod I hope to use for those big battles on the big lakes as soon as they start showing themselves in late spring.

And to those who turn their noses up at the thought of catching and handling carp, I say thanks, because that means there are more for me to catch.

• Contact Mike Jackson at, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and live-streamed at

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