Made to hunt: Stalking mud movers on the fly with Jason Schwermer

Catching my first carp on the fly was just an electric experience.  Catching carp was the main motivator for me to learn how to fly fish.  Though more experienced and skilled anglers had warned me that the skill required to convince these intelligent quarry to bite is best left to skilled fly anglers.  I taught myself the basics of casting with online videos and scouted new spots for carp that were more suited for a fly rod than the big river spots I fished with bait for carp.  On Memorial Day I finally caught my first and thought I maybe figured it out.

The subsequent weeks and months have shown me there is still so much to learn.  The stalk, the approach, the cast, are all opportunities to blow it.  I’ve blown many opportunities this summer and connecting with Jason Schwermer online, I’ve seen his waters are quite similar to where I catch carp.  I was curious regarding his approach to stalking carp specifically.  He was willing to share some of his methods, fly patterns, and gear he uses to catch these mud movers in the below interview.

Tell me about how you got started fishing, fly fishing, and then into carp fly fishing?

I started fishing when I was just a little kid my dad used to haul me and my brother in a backpack before we could walk lol but I’ve been fishing for just about everything from bluegill to deep-sea fishing and pike and muskie in Canada.  I kinda got away from fishing for a few years and I really got active in hunting with a longbow spot and stalk style and just recently. I bought my first fly rod so I could take it to the mountains and trout fish because evertime I was in Colorado I would see tons of fish in those high Alpine Lakes.  So I sprung and bought my first fly rod, a TFO 5 weight.  I thought I would practice by crappie fishing and while walking the shoreline I would see these giant beautiful fish and think man I wonder how I can catch those.  So I went home Googled fly fishing for carp and man I made it a mission to be the best I could be at fishing for these beasts.  I went at it trial and error style until after a few weeks bought a book and caught my first carp on a fly and now I’m hooked for life.

What are the conditions where you fish? Are you sight fishing or casting at bubble trails, mud lines, etc.? Forage and fly patterns that are most favored?

Let’s see most of my fishing is done on a big lake in semi-muddy waters but through sunglasses I start looking for fish to see.  I’m a sight fisherman. I walk the shoreline looking for the fish, mud clouds, bubbles whatever I can find but it gets tricky. I had to learn the fish behavior. If I see a pod of fast movers or a single moving, I don’t waist my time but if I see a sun bather I will toss an unweighted fly in front and hope for the best but my 2 favorite are the belly crawlers and the tailers. Those are the ones I like to target. I’m a drag and drop sight fisherman when I see a fish, I look for the head, cast past, drag and drop the fly right in front of their face.  9 times out of 10 bam! fish on!

The flies I like to use are mini craws versions of backstabber I tie and beetles for top water ….

What’s your stalk or approach? If you crawl up to target fish, do you hide behind cover, how do you cast, or other tips for fly anglers to aid in their presentation?

Now this part is where my hunting background comes in play. THE STALK is what I love! Every fish is different but I move very slow along the shoreline looking for the fish .  When I say slow I mean slug pace as these fish are extremely smart spooky with excellent hearing and smell.  Hell they’re a whitetail deer in the water!  If I spot a tailer they are the easiest ones to sneak up on as they are so preoccupied with their face in the mud they don’t notice you so I’ll slowly move into position by sneaking as close as possible and casting a few feet past and drag and drop right in front of their face.

Now the tricky part ..detecting the eat. These fish hit so soft it’s hard to tell so when I drop the fly if I can see the fish in clearer water I watch for the turn as soon as I see that I’ll keep tight line and strip set. The ones I can’t see I drag and drop where I think the head is and watch the end of my fly line for a twitch and set the hook if it moves or I’ll keep the line tight and slowly raise my rod tip if I feel resistance. I strip set and hold on lol!

carp fishing

Now my favorite ones to get are the belly crawlers. If I see one feed in real shallow water I will sneak crawl roll and hide behind bushes weeds trees to avoid being seen.  I like to sneak as close as I can like within 15 ft or so.  I get a huge adrenalin rush and I use the same drag and drop technique on those as well.  I walk light; the vibration of your foot steps will spook them so best tips I can give is walk slow, crawl if you have to.  Walk light, cast accurate , and concentrate on detecting the eat and I guarantee you will have tight lines!

My preferred rod reel is a 7 weight Scott Meridian and a Nautilus XL Max reel but I have caught 20 plus pounders on a 4wt it can be done but not recommended lol

Feel free to check out Jason’s Facebook group, flyfishing carp. if you want to follow page updates, fly tying videos, and more.  If you love hunting turkeys as well as hunting carp on the fly, Jason makes some pretty impressive calls you may want to check out too.

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Patrick Ritter

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.