Tips for catching carp on the L.A. River

Nothing like catching that first fish on a new reel. (Courtesy David Wratchford)

Update: May 29, 2015. three outings, no carp in the net.

Summer carp journal

Saturday, May 23, 4:30-7:30, overcast, 70, 12 pound tippet. One carp charged and then turned away from a swimming nymph, rust brown dubbing with lighter rabbit tail (size 8).

Tuesday, May 26, 2:30-5:30, overcast, 70, 2X tippet. After rejections on bead head black wooly worm with red yarn tail and bead head swimming nymph with crazy orange dubbing and lighter rabbit tail. (size 8) hooked up on a carp dragon (Orvis). Carp eventually got free because I didn’t set hook deep enough. Saw about 50 pass me in the water, few feeding. Saw the white one again.

Thursday, May 28, 2:30-5:15, clear, 81, 3X tippet. Fish swam up to all of my flies, except the squirmy wormy. That means tortilla fly on red hook, terminator glo bug in chartreuse and orange, all got mighty big looks, but ultimate rejections. Saw the white boy several times, and there were lots and lots of carp. Also, again, “muddling” by one really aggressive fish, but it’s hard to see which way the fish goes through the mud. Also, chummed with two cans of corn to pretty negligible results. The tortilla fly is a dead ringer for canned corn. Didn’t make any difference.

Commenter Steve recently asked me: I’ve been down to the river several times and seen some beautiful and fishy waters, I have had no luck whatsoever hooking up with carp there. Any tips? Should I be sight fishing only, or should I toss my glo-bug in riffles, etc, “trout-like” spots? Are you moving around a lot or focusing on a particular spot for a while?

Great questions. Hope that my response will lead to more catches for more fisherman.

Catching carp on the river is tough, no doubt about it. Your best bet is to spend some time in a section and, yes, look for fish. Once you’ve found them, check out their behavior.

If they’re swimming quickly upstream, they won’t feed. If they’re circling quickly, ditto. If they are jumping out of the water, forgetaboutit. What you want are fish close to the bottom (you’ll be able to see them) that are actively feeding. Throw your Glo-Bug (chartreuse is good) upstream about six feet. The fish are also super-spooky. If the egg passes above their heads, add a bit of weight. You have to basically float it past a two-to-three foot feeding cone. Then — bam — listen to your reel whine!

See you on the river, Jim Burns

16 thoughts on “Tips for catching carp on the L.A. River”

  1. That is the question, McTage! The L.A. River is very odd, in that most of it is channelized, with a concrete bottom, and there are several spots with natural bottoms. I have no idea what these critters live on, but there are thousands of them scattered over the 51 miles. I’ve turned over rocks and seen absolutely nothing.

    Anyway, the carp set here swears by glo-bugs, especially chartreuse. Some guys on one section say that they tie their own with a “secret formula”! Thanks for dropping by. Really enjoy your blog.

  2. That is really interesting. You almost gotta wonder it it wouldnt be worth pumping a stomach or two. Pumping stomachs has always struck me as creepy but what a crazy mystery.

    No crayfish there even? Maybe they have gone herbivore, they can in a pinch. I am sure there is moss and stuff?

  3. Ah, true, I have seen crayfish, so that must be in the diet, somewhere. And when the seaweed/sludge comes, it’s pretty awful. But, yeah, maybe pumping a stomach or two. I am super-curious about how they eat, because there are some grandes in there!

  4. They eat anything they can find. In the LA River they live mostly on Crayfish, Tilapia and other Carp Eggs when they Spawn, Worms, Other Insects, and their favorite BREAD. In my opinion, thats why the Globugs work so well. I also tie a Fly that I call the Tortilla, and they seem to jump all over it. People are always down there feeding the ducks, and the left over bread makes for a great meal. Check out some of our posts from down at the LA RIVER at!

  5. As McTage knows my go-to fly here in SW Idaho is an egg tie, I don’t call it a glo-bug as I tie it with spun and packed material, mostly in different colors in one fly with one predominate. Such as peach marbled with salmon and yellow, oe such as the day before Thanksgiving when I took a late season fish on a size 6 white marbled with salmon, yellow and orange, or something similar. Of course I fish other flies, but a size 6 or 10 fly under an indicator, for me, works real well. I do not think they take them for an egg, I believe it’s just a visible piece of protein down there. The last one had the fly so deep I couldn’t see it, a first for me. I have seen your site before, how dog gone interesting your fishing.

  6. A stomach pump may damage the phyrangeal teeth of the carp, I’ll try to pose that question to a biologist. I do use them for trout well, if it is a large one. They suck up so much of the bottom in their search for food one may be disappointed even by disection, finding grey matter with nothing discernable, I would think. We use bread ties in a local park greatly, casting a SUNKEN fly next to the ducks and geese 8″ under an indicator blind, it’s hot when their on it! This sure thing lasts only a couple of weeks and then they seem to become jaded by our flies. Mine is a spun and packed wool duster material fly on a weighted size 4 M3366 hook, or similar, or the same material spun in a dubbing loop and brushed out. Or, white glo-bug yarn. My son uses a white or flesh colored bunny leech and does well with that, actually no matter what with that.
    Great reading you have.

  7. Thanks, Gregg, for reading and for your comments. Do you have a picture of your bread fly? I really want to try this out. My son and I had about 50 minutes of water time yesterday and got nada. What makes it frustrating is when they’re jumping (they were!) I told him that means you’re not gonna hook up, but he had his shoes off in no time to wade into the water (something I think is a mistake in the L.A. River) for a closer cast!

    1. Yes, I do. I’ll have to send it via email as my computer doesn’t seem to let me send attachments here. Maybe you can help me with this, I’m new to the blogosphere, not carp fly fishing though.. I believe you have mine, not sure of yours, sorry. I need to tie some more up for the spring, summer, fall season here, spring is best, and then after my bunch, mostly super avid carp fisher grown sons, and I find they actually will flee from a bread tie, smart buggers! But one boy caught I believe 26 fish one day, another 14, so when it’s good, it’s good.
      Later, Gregg

  8. Yeah, I have a park here where they feed the ducks like crazy and I have tried a time or two to take advantage of the urban bread-hatch. Not my fault if somebody else is accidentall chumming them in right 🙂 No luck though, I have always tried something on top, will try something wet next time.

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