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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Golden ghosts: The draw of fly-fishing for the hard fighting carp

By Eric Barker Lewiston Tribune

LEWISTON – They are abundant, challenging and strong.

Even so, people wrinkle their noses at the lowly carp, a species that some have nicknamed “sewer salmon.” But the warm-water fish does have a devoted and growing following among fly anglers.

Drew Evans said they offer a close-to-home experience that mimics saltwater fly-fishing for species like bonefish, permit and redfish. It involves the same sight-and-stalk techniques where anglers cast to specific fish feeding in shallow water.

Carp are discerning but when they take a fly, hold on: It’s going to get feisty.

“You might have that fish run out into your backing two or three times,” he said.

Evans is manager of the North 40 Fly Shop in Lewiston and a Fly Project Ambassador. He and other carp masters will host the Jurassic Flats Carp Clave on the Columbia River from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Boardman, Oregon. The instructional event is intended to introduce more people to fly-fishing for carp. It will be held at the Sage Center, where experts will use video and photographs as they educate would-be carp casters on techniques and gear.

Most of it will take place indoors at the center’s lecture hall where photographs and videos can be easily displayed.

“We did it inside with the idea that most people aren’t familiar with carp on the fly,” Evans said. “So I want to back up a bunch of steps just so they can see it on the screen and have it explained.”

But shallow areas on the Columbia River known as the Boardman Flats will be fishable during the event.

“That’s kind of the goal is that you can take what you learned from the clave and then go apply it for yourself afterward.”


Fly anglers favor relatively heavy, one-handed rods, and reels with closed drag systems. They like weight-forward lines that punch through the wind and are capable of shooting out to 70 feet with just one or two backcasts.

Weighted flies with names like the Ball Peen Craw, Detroit Mop City, Mountain Lobster, Hipster Dufus and the H.V.R.T. – Haitian Voodoo Rattle Torture. Those last two are by Umpqua fly designer and Seinfeld fan Daryl Eakins, who will be one of the presenters at the gathering. Carp flies tend to mimic things like crawfish or freshwater clams.

“You want to match something that those fish are eating or something that is impressionistic of a lot of things they could be eating,” Evans said. “They will snub you. If you present a fly and it’s perfect they might turn and look at it and just go, ‘Nope, not eating that.’ ”


Carp favor water that is about knee-deep or less, and relatively warm. Anglers target individual fish and cast near but not right in front of them and then use a drag-and-drop maneuver to present the fly. If it goes as planned “that fish is going to tail. It’s going to turn its body toward the flat and you’ll see its gills flare, and it’ll just suck up your fly,” Evans said. “You watch everything happen and the fun of it is you know exactly what you did wrong or what you did right.”

Local waters

Anglers can find abundant opportunities in the lower Snake River. Evans said places like the lagoon at Chief Timothy Park and the shoreline along the Greenbelt Trail that follows the river at Clarkston are two local hot spots. “Anywhere there is warm, shallow water,” Evans said. “That is where carp will live. It doesn’t matter if it’s clean or dirty.”

More information about the event at Jurassic Flats Carp Clave is available by contacting Evans at (208) 746-1368 or