It has been almost 11 months since I last posted on this blog. If you are reading this, I hope you have had a lovely spring and summer and fall. I am writing to you from our new home in north west Rhode Island. We moved at the end of June from the suburbs of North Providence to what I can only describe as “the sticks”. Around the first week of March my wife, who is a mixed discipline artist, decided to do a Google search for a house that would allow her to practice her creativity in a dedicated “art space”. To be honest, I think she finally got tired of me complaining about how the kitchen table was constantly covered in ceramics tools and jewelry making supplies. That fortuitus Google search led us to find our new house, a house that hadn’t even been listed yet, a house that just so happened to be on a pond. Let’s not talk about that yet, let’s go back to the end of spring for a minute.
Early spring was a cold, windy mess. I was lucky to have a few good outings in mid March. However, after the initial first few sessions at my early spring waters, I found myself in search of something new. In April, my friend who lives in Cambridge, MA sent me a picture of a few carp he spotted in a public area near his home. It just so happened that his wife was out of town that weekend and I played the old “guys night” card to escape from the house for the weekend for a visit. After a night of probably too many beers and too much food, he took me down to where he had seen these fish, a tidal basin near a mall. Sure enough the fish were there and after assessing the situation I decided that a free lined piece of bread was in order. A few casts later I was holding my first “bread” fish of the year. Little did I know, this experience would set the tone for the rest of my spring.
Back in Rhode Island, I mulled over places to focus on for the rest of the spring. Carp fishing requires time and when you are on limited time, like myself, you have to balance time and effort with reward. If you only have an hour once a week, it may not make sense to try and tackle a big lake. You are better off trying to find them on a small pond where you might be able to see them. One sunny day during my lunch break, I decided to wander around a small pond near my work with a loaf of bread and my 6ft Sawn-Off. To my surprise there were already a couple of guys fishing for carp there. Despite totally being put off by these two anglers (I know, I am a horrible human), I decided to continue walking around the pond. I don’t know how long they had been there but it was interesting to see what “normal” people fishing for carp look like. To be honest, I don’t quite understand the light tackle thing with carp. I mean I’m not saying you need to fight them on a broomstick but still, light line/light rod screams disaster to me. When I finally reached the other side, I spotted several gray blobs basking in the sun. My heart raced and my hands trembled as I fed some pieces of bread near a fountain where they sat. Soon the bluegill were taking bits of it off the surface. In my experience, when bread fishing, once you get the bluegill going the carp are not far off. I pinched on a piece of WonderBread onto a size 8 hook and cast towards the fish. The fish seemed interested at first but soon drifted out of sight. Discouraged and running out of time, I cast underneath the fountain hoping the fished had simply moved underneath the fountain’s spray. I felt a few light plucks as the bread sunk slowly. There must be fish down there, I thought. It was on my last cast that I felt a much heavier pluck on the line. I struck the line and low and behold I was into a carp, a low twenty no less. It was a revelation to catch them in the middle of the day this way. It was exciting fishing to say the least. Like a good fisher-boy, I went back several times throughout the next few weeks. Most days I was able to catch 1 or 2 fish during the span of my lunch hour. This continued up through spawning time when the fish eventually lost all interest - can you blame them?
It’s easy to get wrapped up in rigs and boilies and bite alarms and forget that carp, especially our wildies are fish like any other fish, they just happen to be massive. Recently a friend recalled a story of watching carp on the Blackstone river feasting on ants off the surface of the water. This sort of situation must be occurring throughout the entire state. What I mean is, there must be more small ponds, canals, lakes, etc where you can catch carp quickly with nothing more that a hook and some bread or a delicately placed fly. It is really just a matter of finding them. Don’t get me wrong I still fish on the bottom with bolt + hair rigs, I just dont think it should be the defacto first approach.
It was early May when my wife mentioned to me this seemingly perfect house she found on a ceramics artist forum. “Follow the breadcrumbs I guess…” was my response. That is my way of saying, try something and see where it takes you. The house was even more beautiful than we imagined and we knew we wanted to try and purchase it. Buying and selling a house is no small feat and for the next month or so, we worked on the house we were living in feverishly. By the end of the process, the house looked so nice we would have been happy to stay there. After some ups and downs, we sold our house. Just a few weeks later, we were moved into our new home. What a whirlwind adventure.
Catching carp was put on hold through the move and even today. Living in the north western part of Rhode Island means I’ve lost convenient access to my old carp spots. Between unpacking, work and home life I have enjoyed exploring the pond that our property borders. It’s a lovely pond and like many ponds in our area it is stocked for trout by DEM. It seems like trout is what people are interested in the most and as far as I can tell I am the only person fishing it regularly. All that being said I was surprised when I started catching decent bass out of it regularly. I’m certain I’ve had a few 4lb+ fish out of it. I often ask myself… have I become the “basshole” that I so often complain about? Am I still a carp angler? I feel a sense of an identity that has been lost.
Trying to rid myself of such thoughts has been tough. A few weeks back, with the help of some local intell I was able to locate a few carp waters near me. I guess I could drive the 35 minutes to one of my old haunts but that just really doesn’t appeal. Beside that, I have become a bit obsessed with figuring out if there are carp in this part of Rhode Island. I believe the first carp introduced into our state where actually distributed from a small pond that may or may not exist any more along the Ponaganset. John H. Barden (Barden Reservoir, Barden Family Orchard) of Scituate was pretty much head of the fisheries commission around that time and based on the evidence I’ve gathered, would have been responsible for raising and distributing the carp that the US government provided. Even though Barden Reservoir wasn’t built till after those days, it is very possible that any remnants of his fish made it there and maybe even into the Scituate Reservoir. Now before we go and fill those places with maize, you gotta remember that those two bodies of water are completely off limits. A girl can dream though…
There have been a few times in the backyard where I’ve watched something big pushing through the reeds with no real indication of what it is. Could there be carp in “home lake”? In my experience, you should never rule out the possibility as there have been times where I was 100% convinced that it was impossible that carp existed in a given body of water only to be surprised later. There has even been an occasion where the audible sound of a fish leaping out of the water and crashing back in startled me as I was fishing on the other side of the pond. Where did the bass in our pond come from? These fish are not native, someone must have introduced them. Did they also introduce carp? Only time will tell. I am destined to find a north western Rhode Island Carp.
Fall is over and winter has now officially reared its icy head. If I don’t freeze to death in the woods, I’ll talk to you use soon.