The Park

Green Lake’s Elusive Carp

July 10, 2014 5:58am


Guest post by Bob Margulis. Bob is an avid fly fisherman and has been active in several environmental organizations including the Wild Steelhead Coalition.

There are many common sights at Green Lake: runners, baby-strollers, rollerbladers, water birds, dogs, and people scattered around the perimeter of the lake fishing for trout. As is typical, this spring Green Lake attracted a good number of regulars to fish for the 442 rainbow trout, averaging a pound and a half each, that the Department of Fish & Wildlife planted in early April.

But then there are the occasional and odd sightings: the milk-carton derby, people feeding red-winged blackbirds out of their hand during nesting season, crew races and luminaires. And during the summer it includes a fringe group of Green Lake fly anglers who come to hunt for carp along the edges of the lake. In the evening, should you wander by the waters adjacent to the boat dock in the NE corner of the lake, you might also see their elusive prey, the carp, dining head down—tail up in the shallows.

While Green Lake has a pretty good sized population of common carp, they are not easy fish to catch. They’re both smart and wary. How smart? Well, in aid of keeping fisheries researchers employed, a study was done which demonstrated that carp figure things out about twice as quickly as bass. In days gone by, tiger muskellunge were planted in an attempt to control the carp, considered an invasive species, but that practice has been discontinued and the carp continue to multiply.

From the perspective of western aesthetics, carp are not considered a pretty fish, with their big round eyes, sucker like mouth, big rough scales, and are often referred to as trash fish. Unlike trout, carp are not known for being a tasty meal—which may account for why you see so few anglers fishing for them around the lake. Although the record common carp caught was over 75 lbs. and 20-30 lb. carp are not uncommon, most Green Lake carp will run 5-10 lbs. and regardless of size put up a very good fight when hooked—which accounts for the growing number of anglers now targeting carp.

And if this has piqued your interest in trying it yourself there are many websites that can provide information on fishing for carp with a fly as well as local fly shops to help with equipment and advice.