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Travel to Dale Hollow for Massive Mirror and Common Carp Fishing with Carp Adventures Rx

This feature might raise some eyebrows and hopefully change perceptions.  We are featuring a fishing guide service based on Dale Hollow reservoir in Tennessee.  It is a legendary fishery for Smallmouth Bass having produced the world record in 1955 at 11.9375lbs.  This body of water also produced the Smallies that hold spots 2 and 3 below that world record.  But this feature is not about Smallmouth Bass.  Dale Hollow has also set state records for Lake Trout, Rainbow Trout,  Brown Trout, and the current state record for Muskie came from Dale Hollow.  Those fish are not the subject of this piece either.  If none of the prior fishing opportunities have sufficiently grabbed your attention, there is still great fishing for Largemouth, Spotted Bass, Crappie, White Bass, Bluegill, Walleye, and more.  Again, not being addressed further here.  Dale Hollow provides just an all around amazing angling opportunity, yet this feature is really sidestepping all of the before-mentioned, sport fishing species.

We’re shining a spotlight on what can be a rare fish species to consistently catch here in America and are rarely appreciated: Carp.  Not just any Carp because many species such as Common Carp or Grass Carp are very plentiful.  However the Mirror Carp is less often seen or caught and therefore provide an interesting quarry for anglers. First of all what is a Mirror Carp?  Mirrors are a member of the same family as Common Carp.  Their large, patchy or often unevenly distributed scales resemble mirrors.  Science Magazine did an interesting piece on Mirror Carp in 2016. The below excerpt provides a look at the origins of Mirror Carp.

“medieval European monks selectively bred carp centuries ago to produce ones with fewer scales, thus making them easier to gut and cook. Starting in 1912, these “mirror carp”—so named for their smooth sides—were introduced to Madagascar, where no carp existed, for fish farming, and they quickly spread throughout the island. “

Carp Fishing

                 

Why do a feature on Carp fishing when there’s all those great gamefish on Dale Hollow to write about?  A better question might be why start a guide service or a publication dedicated solely to Carp fishing?  As you’ll learn in a minute, Jeff Skelton and Rick Slinker have done both without hesitation.  Carp fishing is a fast growing sport here in the United States.  There is so much to love in pursuing this often unappreciated, even despised fish.  In Europe and Asia, they are held in high regard and respected as a gamefish and that has been the case for decades.  In fact, European anglers travel here to the U.S. just to pursue fish deemed by many as “trash fish”.  One of the go-to locales for a truly massive Carp of a lifetime has become Dale Hollow and it’s easy to see why.  Not only vast in numbers but in sheer size, the populations of both Mirror and Commons are a sight to behold and a joy to have bending your rod.  We had a chance to interview one of the two founders of Dale Hollow Carp Adventures Rx, Jeff Skelton (Rick Slinker is co-founder) to learn more about how they got started and just what does the Dale Hollow Carp fishing opportunity look like.

Tell us your story Jeff. How you got into the profession and why you do it?

As you can probably see my passion is fishing and carp fishing to be exact. At ten years old back in 1972, already loving to fish, you see there were three ponds in succession across the field all holding large bass, catfish, and bluegill so fishing was something I enjoyed at a very early age. During this same period I was introduced to carp angling by a friend of the family and backhoe operator for my dad’s plumbing company Willie Richardson. He taught me pack-bait recipes, beads for pickups, flavorings, and all that he knew about this style of fishing. My first set of rods were Zebco 808’and the pod/stands were laying the rod and reel on the bank and sticking a screwdriver into the ground between the reel and rod. This passion has stayed with me for all my life and fueled the start of The Carp Anglers Magazine CAM in 2014.

In 2016 I partnered with Rick Slinker a great angler, two times US Champion, and World Classic Baits representative. We both love to fish Dale Hollow and his dream was to guide on this lake. So we came together in another business venture Dale Hollow Carp Adventures Rx. We provide anglers the best possible chance of catching a new Personal Best (PB) by selecting productive swims, making reservations, pre-baiting swims to ensure the carp keep coming back, renting boats large enough to carry everyone to the remote locations, and helping to load and unload the enormous amount of gear carp anglers need. We also provide knowledge of what baits are working, pickups, how to fish specific swims, sonar of the bottom and boat use to put out any chum anglers bring with them.

We come around everyday for assistance, ice runs, baiting or to just to socialize. We are available 24 hours daily by radio contact if needed on the 6-day 5-night primitive carping adventure. If you live across the country or overseas, we provide packages with everything needed for the experience along with airport pick up and drop off service so all you need to do is step off the plane with your clothes and we will take care of the rest. Or bring all your gear and have the carping vacation of a lifetime. This is the first year when in only two trips completed, we have already made many anglers very happy with 2 carp over 40lbs, 16 over 30lbs, and 107 over 20lbs along with a  new personal best, lake record 46 pound common.  In addition along with many, many great hours spent socializing with carpers from all over the US. This is a dream come true for both Rick and me.  Our motto is let us “Make it Happen,” Get Well On DHL.

What’s been your favorite experience/fish story you’ve seen first-hand as a guide?

This is the first year officially and already so many remarkable stories, but the one at the forefront of my mind is Bruce Massey’s. I was contacted just days before our second boat of the spring season by Ricky Massey wanting to set up a trip for his uncle, best friend, and himself. They arrived the Saturday of their trip after some transportation complications getting to Willow Grove Resort and we promptly loaded the gear, transporting them to the swim they would be fishing and unloaded all the equipment. While there talking with Bruce Massey, Ricky Massey, and Djuan Thomas, Bruce caught a 17lb fully scaled mirror and was over the moon; you see it was a new PB for this group and they were already having the time of their lives. During the week they all shattered their respective Personal Bests, but the best part was that Bruce caught the new lake record a 46 pound common. This guy was beyond excited as you might expect.  I even saw him dance a jig! This is what we do this for; the joy we can bring to others at a meager price for six days five nights. You see most people cant get the time off or afford to be able to travel to Dale Hollow repeatedly to bait swims every weekend that produces fish such as these. This is the most crucial part of what we provide; you see we travel 5 hours one way to put chum out on our reserved locations from January up to the spawn to ensure we give the best possible chance of catching a fish of a lifetime and memories you will never forget.


What are the fishing opportunities where you guide?  When are the best times for a given species?

Well everyone has seen pictures of the immaculate fish caught out of this lake. The Fully Scaled Mirror Carp is sought after worldwide. It just so happens to be the most commonly caught species in this lake. You see 65 to 75 % of fish you hook into will be fully scaled mirror carp with the majority having never been hooked. While there is nothing special we do to catch these mirror carp, they seem to like the same baits as the common. The only thing is finding the flavor of the month or the color of the pickup, what method/pack works best, what flavor of boilies do they tend to prefer etc. This is another advantage of using our guide service as we have a combined twenty years experience fishing these waters. Not to mention that from early in the year I fish Dale Hollow every single weekend on one location or another as I am already there to place chum in the swims we reserve for the spring. We encourage anyone to go and fish this magnificent lake whether you use our guide service or not as you will never forget the experience!

So it’s one thing to hear a guide or resort tell you how good their fishing is.  It’s another however when a fellow angler has been there and done it.  And then there’s fishermen like Doug Reed who keep meticulous records and pictures.  From the two trips he’s taken to Dale Hollow, below are his results by weight, date, time of catch, and Mirrors noted “Mir”, “M”, or FM for Full Mirror.  In addition, here’s some pics.  Dale Hollow is the place for a Carp fishing experience of a lifetime, new Personal Bests, or if you’re especially fortunate like Bruce Massey, perhaps a new lake record!

 

2014

19.7. 4/18. 1140 pm
18. 4/19. 13o am
12.14. 4/19. 2:10 am
20. 4/19. 6:50
13. 4/19. 7:15
22.6 4/19. 5:20 pm
11.8. 4/19. 7:20pm
23.11 4/19 8:20
15.9 4/19 8:45pm
14.12 4/19 9:45 Mir
6. 4/19. 11:20
28.4 4/20 1:40
8.6 4/20 1:55
17.7 4.20 3:10
27.12 4/20 6:30
16.12 4/20 4:20pm
16.2 4/20 7:40mir
15.3 4/20 8:40mir
20.1 4/21 12:45 m
15.14 4/21 5:45
19 4/21. 6:45am
30.9 4/21 4:15
16.6 4/21 4:45
31 4/21. 6:15
29.10 4/21 7:40
16.11 4/21 9:10
19.4 4/22 12:30
10.8 4/22 7:10 pmM
28.1 4/23 5:30cam
36.124/23 6:30

15.10 4/23 8:15amM
14.2 4/23 12:10 M
15 4/23 8:05pmFm
20.14 4/25. 1:00pmM
28.15 4/25 6:15M
17.10 4/25 6:30M
19.14 4/25 8:40
22.9 4/26 1:30Fm
18.3 4/26 4am
17.14 4/26 5:45am
20.4 4/26 6:45
24.4 4/26 8:30

2015

25.2 common 4/17
30.6 mirror 4/18
28.12 common 4/19
12.6 fulmir 4/20
16.12com 4/20
29.4 com 4/20
24.10 com 4/20
32.2 fulmir 4/21
15.2 com 4/21
14.1 com 4/22
16.3 com 4/22
15.8com 4/22
17.6mirror 4/22
14.4mirror 4/22
18.8com 4/22
20 common 4/23
13.1fulmir 4/23

 

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Patrick Ritter is the founder of River King Fishing, LLC.  Raised near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, the outdoors, especially fishing, has always been a passion.