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An Interview with the Dark Carper

Kevin Wasilewski, aka “The Dark Carper” has been quietly and methodically catching carp in Rhode Island for the last 30 years. Kevin’s dedication to catching carp is truly inspiring and over the last year or so I’ve had the privilege of getting to know this passionate, relentless angler.

If you were to somehow figure out all of Kevin’s “spots”, I reckon you’d still fall short of catching like him. That is because Kev is more than just a lucky angler; he is the whole package. His many years of experience reflect in his attention to detail in all aspects of his fishing, from bait selection to rig concealment. To top it off, he is an absolute fish magnet and more often then not those fish tend to be very big. He is one of, if not the pioneer of carp fishing in Rhode Island and much of what we know about carp in RI originates with him and his brother Steve.

I’ve only met Kevin in “real” life 3 times though I speak to him via text message regularly. Our conversations cover everything from catching carp to raising daughters. He’s always willing to answer any questions I have (even the silly ones) and I thought maybe it would be fun to “interview” him for the blog. So without further ado, here is “An Interview with the Dark Carper”.

Mild-mannered speech therapist by day, carp catching machine by night.

What is your favorite season to fish?

My favorite part of the season to fish is immediately following the ice coming off the waters. It can be extremely brutal on the angler, but I have had some of my largest fish within days of the ice initially coming of the lake.

Is there anything you want to accomplish in fishing? A goal, etc.

I don’t really have any set numerical goals like so many fish in a season, or a forty pound carp. I would have to say that my long term goal would be to just be known as an angler who knows what he is doing, who can share knowledge when asked, and known for catching all my fish in little Rhode Island. I have no problems with guys doing well in other states, but I want all my captures to be home-grown so to speak.

What is your favorite piece of kit?

I would have to say my original 12 foot Fox Rangemasters 2.75 lb rods that I’ve been using from the early 2000’s. They’ve always done what I asked of them and I know exactly how they will perform in every situation. I believe in the concept of learning and knowing your gear instead of constantly upgrading it. The tackle you use is simply an extension of yourself. I could afford all new kit if I wanted, but no thank you.

What is the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you while fishing?

There would be several occurrences that definitely fell into the strange department. Some involving wildlife, and some, people. As a teenager, catching a snake at night on a spinnerbait with my father was pretty unexpected, as well as a great blue heron catching my line as it flew past me at top speed at night last year.

Encounters with people are even weirder, like the incident I blogged about last year involving to two guys with presumably a handgun I encountered when going chumming late a night. Or years ago, my brother and I were loaded down with gear, walking to a swim right before it got light outside. As we were rounding a corner, no more than five feet from us a very polite and elegant voice spoke out, “good morning”. It was an older woman lying in the bushes under a bunch of pizza boxes. Experiences like those you just don’t forget.

Describe your day to day “rig”

Size 6 gamakatsu glo-bug pattern hook, tied on moss-green Spiderwire braid with knotless knot KD style minus the shot weight. 5-6 inch long hooklink up to a simple swivel within a 1.75 oz. Fox inline flat pear. I like to use anti-tangle sleeves below the swivel, for both anti-tangle assistance, but also to remove one more speck of glare from the swivel too.

What is your tactic when nothing seems to be working?

I don’t believe that there is one surefire tactic that can be relied on at all times. When the going is good or even when the going is slow there are always things to be improved upon. There are always little things you can tweak with either line concealment, disguising terminal tackle, or in bait selection. Once those three boxes are checked, the next most important factor would probably be location.

What has been a “game changer” as far as your fishing is concerned?

Most recently plastics. I’ve always liked incorporating them into my presentations as a way to “tip” hookbaits, but this year they’ve really come into their own as a primary hookbait. They can really withstand nuisance species and the carp seem to really respond well to them. So much so, that I know at least my last 130 or so carp have come from artificial hookbaits.

What is something you would like to improve on?

If I could do one thing better it would probably be to diversify my range of tactics. I can’t think of anyone who is more diversified in my choices of baits and I pride myself on that, but I am pretty much a straight up ledgering guy, with some stalking mixed in. I would love to do some more experimenting with zig rigs.

If you could attribute one single thing to your success what would it be?

I feel very blessed for the success that I experience and the captures that I pull in. But as I’ve said before on my blog, I feel these are the end products of a long process that has taken many many years. I would have to base my success on knowledge and experience, as well as long term dedication. I know many guys who have been serious with carp fishing over the course of several years and then they seem to disappear from the scene completely, often targeting new species or new pastimes. At this point in my life I am very very satisfied and content with just fishing for carp from here on out and continuing what I’ve been doing over these many years.

What is your most memorable capture?

My most memorable capture was my first 30 that I caught in September 29, 2000. At the time I was in the process of leaving a speech pathologist position which had me driving to new locations all around the state on a daily basis. The one positive was that it allowed me to stop at home briefly throughout the day. It just so happened that on that particular day I had arrived home at midday to find that my first-ever bite alarms had been delivered with the mail. A quick call to work gave me the rest of the afternoon off. Still wearing my work clothes, I headed off to a location that I had been putting consistent food into. This was a very difficult water with very few captures but I still wanted to try them out there anyway. Lo and behold within an hour I had already had my first two screaming runs on the alarms, but both of these unfortunately got off. I decided to do some tinkering with one of my set ups. Shortly after this I had my third run which was so fast that it made the alarm emit a one solid-tone blare that I will never forget. The fish felt very heavy in the water and immediately I knew that I was into something special. When I got the fish close to the net, which was very puny compared to today’s standards, I saw that it was an enormous fish. The fish then decided to blast all the way back out again and I was left basically at where I had started again, having to begin the whole process over. The second time I brought the fish closer I did not want to take any chances so I waded into the water up to my thighs in my dress clothes and netted the fish successfully. When I brought it to shore, I could see that it was so large that I actually felt a little lightheaded and thought for a moment that I was going to be sick. In hindsight that statement might sound ridiculous now, but in my situation at that very moment it was very overwhelming.

I had two scales with me, a dial scale and a digital, both very inexpensive. One of the scales read 32.8, while the other read 34. I decided to stick with the lower weight. I had no way of transporting it safely to have it registered as the state record, and mobile phone calls to anyone who could have helped went unanswered. I was dejected, but happy to watch the fish swim safely away. As far as I know, this was only the second 30+ carp caught on the state to that point.

If you could change one thing about the local carp scene, what would it be?

Ah, the local carp scene topic. I have a lot a varying thoughts on this subject but will try to keep this as succinct as possible. I truly love the fact that more people are getting into the sport. Remember going back 20 years ago, there was Dave Pickering, and my brother Steve and I and that was it. None of the guys from the initial new crop of anglers back then target carp anymore. We have had a great resurgence of anglers over the past decade and many out there really know what they are doing, such as Ryan Bunker, Todd Richer, Nick P., Daphne, Jake and Kerri, Kevin Miller, Kyle Oneppo, Mike Hilton and Brad Trouvé. Of course Angel, you are near the top of this list too.

The one factor that bothers me is that few of the guys out there fish individually. I run into or see groups of 3 or 4 guys fishing together and really flooding the water with rods. I know I don’t own any of the waters out there, but I feel very protective of the great locations of our tiny state and feel that fishing in large groups really brings unwanted attention from both residents and the authorities. I love being able to blend in with the environment. I hope that as some of the anglers inevitably fade away, those that are left feel the same way.

You can read more about what is going on with Kevin at his blog carpteamri.blogspot.com