Lake Michigan Carp


Tights Lines
I'm in the middle of my annual summer trip home to Northern Michigan from Seattle to see family and friends. I brought along my 6wt and 4wt figuring I could sneak away and hit some local trout waters around Traverse City. Upon arriving and talking with a few friends, I learned that my hometown has apparently been dubbed "the Bahamas of the Great Lakes" with top notch flats fishing for carp. Intrigued, I decided to check it out, and I must say the nickname is rather fitting. The Carp school up and cruise the flats and given the time of year you are able to wet wade and stalk the fish. Very similar to fishing for bonefish, but the carp are significantly larger than your typical bonefish. My estimates are that they ranged in size from 10 - well over 20 lbs.

(All of the dark spots on the bottom half of the picture are carp, they school up and cruise the flats)

On this particular day I had limited time so I only fished for maybe 2 hours, but I hooked, landed, and released 4 nice carp. What a riot on the fly, it was the first time in a long time that I've seen my backing and lots of it. I was using my 9'6" 6wt method and it stood up exceptionally well to the task. I was using an intermediate line with a clear tip and a 10ft leader as I found these fish to be very leader shy. Shrimp, crawfish, crab, and small crustacean imitations were the most effective. I'm sure a floating line would work just fine too as you're fishing in 1-3 ft of water, but I figured the 30 ft clear tip on my intermediate line would provide even more stealth in the crystal clear water.


I was very surprised upon inspecting my catches to see that there are striking similarities between carp and both bonefish and redfish. One of my buddies refers to them as "golden bones". Bottom line, if you're going to be in Northern Michigan during the summer, I strongly suggest packing a fly rod and checking this unique fishery out. I definitely plan on getting back out while I'm here.

Here's one of the four I landed, my buddy and I guessed that the fish I caught ranged from 15-20+ lbs, and they were all really thick broad shouldered fish


Tight lines,