Eleven Mile State Park – Carp on the Flats

I like fly-fishing flat water. Not just in spring, when runoff shuts down the rivers, but anytime between ice-off and ice-up. Turn me out on a quiet stretch of shoreline with a fly rod and a box of flies, and I will not bother the rest of the herd for hours.

And I am not fussy about the species or the location, any fish that frequents the shorelines in either cold or warm bodies of water will do. I target mountain park reservoirs for large trout, especially during the major insect hatches, and I try to fish the prime times in spring and fall when pike and wipers come into fly range.

However, in June, the fishing at Eleven Mile Reservoir takes precedence over all others. In addition to hit-and-miss fishing for pike, there is sure-fire action for carp on the flats.

Carping the flats at Eleven Mile is all about sight-fishing, which I consider the best fishing of all. Here, similar to fishing saltwater flats for redfish, you stalk the shallows, scanning the clear water until you spot a feeding fish. Keeping a low profile, you work out a cast, drop a fly directly in the carp’s path, then twitch it slowly along the bottom. The suspense builds when the carp sets its sights on the fly and moves in for a closer look. If all goes well and the fly passes the inspection, you will see the carp pucker its lips and vacuum up the fly.

The best flies I have found for the flats are small crayfish imitations tied with soft and fuzzy materials that “breathe” when worked slowly along the bottom. I prefer to weight them with bead-chain or small, lead dumbbell eyes, so the fly rides with the hook up. Olives, browns, and burnt orange colors seem to work the best. Other flies that will take carp include those that imitate aquatic insects, especially scuds.

These flies will have more action if you attach them using a No-Slip Loop Knot.

You will find carp in the shallows along the south shore from the inlet all the way down to Witcher’s Cove. My favorite stretch is around Howbert Point. The carp will spawn here later in the summer, but for now, they are here to feed.

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