Monday, October 10, 2011

Ghosts of Colorado

There is something about the Golden Ghost. The name itself conjures images of a faintly discernible fish, acutely aware of its surroundings and ready to flee at the intimation of danger. One errant step, bad cast or misjudgment on the angler's part can abort the success of a ghost "stalk." Generally the only remnant of the carp's presence is the lingering mud cloud left in its fleeing path. For all the exciting moments we have when the Golden Ghost eats our flies, there are even a larger set of experiences where the Ghost gets the best of us. This is the stuff of hunting carp with the fly rod. And I damn well love it.

My introduction to Colorado carp came from pursuing the multitude videos on YouTube and chatting with friends on Twitter. Being from the Midwest, I cut my fly fishing teeth on warm water species and learned very quickly the challenges of taking carp on the fly. But there was something intangibly intriguing about these Ghosts of Colorado. Perhaps the habitat was a little better, the fish a little bigger, and, just maybe, the experience a little better.

I hooked up with my Twitter buddy, Dave Maynard, for an afternoon of stalking the Golden Ghost on Denver's mud flats. Armed with a 7 weight Sage, 2x leader tapered to 3x fluorocarbon tippet, and some Backstabbers, I set out to stalk and battle some of Colorado's finest.

After a few unsuccessful attempts at feeding carp, I found another fish "locked in" rooting. I made the cast well past my target and stripped line until the fly was in the carp's field of vision. A short twitch of the rod tip, marabou and hackle undulating, was too much for the Ghost to ignore. He charged my Backstabber and sucked in the fly. I strip struck and the rod bowed. The fight was on.

Palming the reel during runs and working the rod to subdue the fish, I eventually landed my first Colorado Golden Ghost. What a great feeling!

During the rest of the afternoon, Dave and I continued to work the mud flats, putting our flies in front of as many active carp as possible. Some spooked, some were ornery, but some just ate.

In my journey and development as a fly angler, I haven't fished the saltwater flats yet. After systematically working the mud for carp, though, I have a greater understanding and appreciation for this type of sight fishing. The flats engender a whole range of emotions -- frustration, accomplishment, irritation, joy, disappointment, satisfaction. But, quite frankly, it's becoming one of my favorite places to be.


  1. Great story and great post, Andy. Wish I hooked up with Dave before my Denver trip last year - this looks like a blast!

    I've tried chasing carp in our local river (Concord) but find its too silty to effectively sight fish. By the time you see them, they are spooked. Not going to stop me from trying, though.

  2. ...and some just ate.

    well done sir...cheers!

  3. Congrats on getting off the CO carp shnide, but be carefull Andy. They are very very sneaky. First you are getting out for the ocassional outing and luvin it, the next thing you know they have snuck up on you and are all you want to fly fish for is carp. Believe me.

  4. Dean -- Thanks! Appreciate it. Dave is a great guy! Passionate and fun to fish with. Keep trying on those Concord carp! Find a ghost that is so concentrated on eating and thread a fly in his feeding lane. My last couple of fish were rooting around in a foot of water, backs completely visible. Made about a 40 foot cast to them.

    Sanders -- Thanks, man! Blog looks great.

    McTage -- Ha! Thanks for warning me of the pitfalls :) I think I've developed the first stages of this obsession already, which regretfully might take time out of my smallmouth bass fishing. I'm hoping to participate in the Carp Slam next year. We'll see how things pan out.

  5. Great looking carp!!!I just found this Via Twitter. Cool blog!

  6. you should try to make it out for the carp slam next year.

  7. Gary -- if all goes well, it's my goal to be there!

    Thanks again, G. You have a nice blog yourself :)

  8. Nice experience Andy! Hats off to you and Dave for a great day of fishing the mud flats for those golden beasts!