|Sweetgum seeds - tiny suckers.|
|Up close and personal.|
|Seedpods from the sweetgum. Wear some shoes.|
I was more or less appropriately rigged for this scenario with a two fly set-up consisting of a #10 Elk Hair Caddis and a #14 Hare's Ear running point. Sweetgum seeds are tiny and the EHC of course dwarfed them, but this was not a factor. The seeds tend to clump in the surface film and carp slurp these clumps down rather than bother with the individual seeds.
Although not a perfect match, the EHC was apparently close enough. Several carp rose to it. Not one or two but several, which sounds like a wonderful thing. Except that they could not eat the fly. Absolutely could not eat it.
The carp would open its mouth, the fly would go in. The carp would close its mouth, the fly would pop right back out. The fish would follow, opening and closing, the fly popping in and out, until finally it gave up and moved on. Sometimes the fish would make a couple of attempts and then back off a bit to have a good long look at the fly. Then he would give it another go or two before leaving it alone.
And yes, I tried several times to set the hook. The fly always pulled out, often without even spooking the fish. Finally, I too gave up. I resorted to casting and watching the fish take the fly without setting the hook. It was an interesting scene to observe and honestly kinda comical.
My conclusion is that the fly was too bouyant, and the inferior position of the carp's mouth makes it difficult to eat a fly sitting up high on the film. The fly enters the carp's mouth riding on a cushion of water. As it closes its mouth, the water is expelled and the fly rides this same cushion right back out. This happens quickly. The fly in this situation usually does not go very far into the carp's mouth, sometimes not even passing the lips completely before it is pushed back out.
At least that seemed to be what was happening. This suggests that a dry with palmered hackle may not be the best choice. A dry that sits down in the film like Turck's Tarantula is probably a better option. That said, I have had two takes on the tarantula recently and missed them both. Yet another nuance to consider when fishing for carp.
I did manage one fish on the Hare's Ear, so the skunk was avoided. That makes 12 straight months with carp brought to hand. Not that I'm counting.