Enjoy the Low Country waters of Beaufort, Hilton Head, and Fripp Island

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

South Dakota on the Fly

1st Trophy Carp on a 7wt
     I recently made a trip up to Sioux Falls, SD in search of Carp and Northern Pike on the fly, and yes I did say Carp! My friend and also past client Dan Fraiser was the one who got me hooked on the idea of targeting Carp on the fly, which most fly fisherman think is pointless. To them a carp is the last fish they want to target, but to me it was the new freshwater fish on my list to catch. Dan would send me all sorts of pictures of these huge 25-35inch, 8-15lb Carp, that he was catching on a 7wt. Casting to these fish is very similar to redfish, because your seeing the Carp cruising is shallow water, then laying an accurate sight cast to them, watching them chomp down your fly.
   Soon after seeing constant pictures, the urge to catch a Carp soon became a reality. The dates were set, plane tickets purchased, and tackle packed for Souix Falls, SD. Tuck Scott who is a friend and also a guide at the shop joined me for the trip, and off we were to South Dakota.  Dan and his brother Mike picked us up at the air port, knowing Tuck and I had high hopes of catching our first Carp and Northern Pike on the fly. Dan is one of, if not the best Carp fisherman in SD, he had the tactics, flies, streams, and knowledge to produce for a great trip. Dan and Mike are not guides so it was a ton of fun watching them share with us the knowledge they had of there fishery, and treating Tuck and I as if we were paying clients.

   Our first spot of the trip was the tail waters of the Vermillion, which consisted of small freshwater streams full of Carp, Pike, Waleye, Small Mouth, Gar, and Mooneye. The flies of choice for the trip were an assortment of wooly buggers, streamers, crab patters, minnow patterns, and dry flies. We wet waded through these streams looking for the carp tailing, swimming around, and mud clouds were they had been sitting. Working these streams was pretty difficult at times do to all the high banks, so adjusting our cast from the bow of a flats boat took a little time. We mainly used 7wt rods, and 3x tippet do to the carp being liter shy.
    In the first few hours I sight casted to quite a few carp and had some trouble getting them to eat the fly, we must of switched flies 5 or 6 times till finally the choice was right. I laid a 30 foot cast out along a bank that I saw a fish come up and eat, after my 1st strip my line got tight, I stripe set, and BAM! The first fish of the trip was on, and putting up quite a fight. As the liter started to show, so did the fish with a huge surprise! It was a nice 28inch Northern Pike, which had me super pumped. Mike did an excellent job putting me on the fish and landing it with the net like a pro, he also informed me that it was a trophy Northern Pike for the waters we were fishing which had me double excited!

Trophy Northern Pike
      Soon after I caught the Trophy Northern Pike we went in search of more Carp. Mike put me on an area where I saw a group of about 5 huge Carp feeding and tailing in some really skinny water. I laid the fly in front of the fish 3 times and on the 3rd cast, first stripe, one of the carp chomped down my fly! Instantly I stripe set the fish and the fight was on, pulling and shaking his head, the carp fought surprisingly very well, and similar to a redfish. Mike netted the fish and I proudly stood with my first carp on the fly at 25in, weighing around 8lbs. The elusive carp met all of my expectations, and I could tell that Mike was very relieved to see me land both of my goals within the first 2 hours of the trip.
   Through out our adventure in SD we caught Carp, Pike, Gar, Bluegill, and Mooneye. Yes there is a fish called a mooneye, and a very interesting fish at that. We targeted these fish with small dry flies on 5wts as they were rising, which was exactly how you fish for trout. The mooneye were very aggressive fish, and had small sharp teeth that made it tough to land. We caught quite a few of the mooneye through out the trip, mainly focusing on them at sun down to end the day with some fun action.

Mike with a nice Mooneye

    Mike did a great job of guiding me, and Dan helped out a lot as well with fly selections, and area's for Mike to take me. After my epic first couple hours of the trip, I decided to give Dan and Tuck a hard time, naming our team "Team Big Fish" do to all the big fish we were catching. Tuck and Dan weren't to happy about that the first day do to a lot of bad luck with liters breaking, and hooks bending, causing them to lose some nice fish. There team name for the trip was Fire and Ice, and made for quite a few good jokes through out our trip! Team Fire and Ice soon caught up with up on the big fish by getting Tuck his first Carp and also Northern Pike the next morning we went out, which was a good way to make up for losing so many fish in bad situations, or what we call "Bad Fish Juju".
   At the end of our trip to South Dakota, Dan and Mike did an absolute great job guiding, and put Tuck and I on tons of fish through out the 3 days of fishing. We did lose a lot of big carp, and pike, but that's always part of fishing. The competition of Team Big Fish and Team Fire and Ice made the trip a lot of fun, and very humorous at times. All in all when you have 4 friends fishing together and having a great time, those are the memories that matter the most.
Mike, Me, Dan, Tuck
The Crew
    

Dan with a nice Northern Pike
               

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