A Worthy Fish For the Fly Rod? by Mark Usyk

On a fishing page on Facebook this past week I came across someone who had posted up a picture of a decent sized carp. There were a couple “Nice Carp” and “Great fighters” responses to the photo, but within the first four reactions to the golden scaled tank of a fish there was one guy who posted “Garbage fish. Throw it on the bank for the birds.” Most everyone ignored him, a couple didn’t, but it led me to the question of what qualifies a fish as worth catching?

Carp have long been considered a trash fish by many, it’s only recently become somewhat of a game fish, and I believe a lot of that has to do with the progression of fly fishing and those who chase bigger fish with bigger rods. But why does a Trout get the love and a Carp gets the evil eye? Let’s compare them. Trout are very picky. Whatever they key in on, that’s about all you’re going to catch them on. Carp are the same way, perhaps even more mysterious to figure out. Trout can be caught on anything from a tiny nymph to a long streamer. Same with carp. As a matter of fact, the same flies that will catch your Trout will catch that huge golden tank that fights like a log with an attitude. And for the record, if you fight a Carp for 5 minutes, it’s still fighting to get out of your hands and take off, while the Trout that fights for 5 minutes is ready to die. And the Carp is found in the same waters, and then in waters much worse, waters a Trout could never live in. Yet the Trout gets all the fame and the Carp gets asked to use the back entrance.

How about the Fall Fish Vs. The Smallmouth Bass? I honestly believe, as much as I love chucking streamers for Smallmouths, and as many times that I’ve stated my beliefs that the Smallmouth is the hardest fighter pound for pound, that the Fall Fish… a large Minnow, may actually be the hardest fighter pound for pound. But it gets no love at all. The only time I here talk of the silver scaled bruisers are when I hear fishermen complaining that they caught no Trout or Smallmouth, only bottom feeders, or suckers as they are most commonly miss identified. Why is that? They share the same water, they eat all the same foods, they are caught on all the same flies and lures, and they fight like a ticked off bull at the rodeo with a rope tied tight around his unmentionables! Yet they get no love!

And while we’re on the subject of “bottom feeders”, why is it that Carp, Fallfish, Whitefish, Sheepshead, why are they all trash fish because they are considered bottom feeders, but the Catfish is cool? All these fish all eat the same things, they can all be found in many of the same waters, yet only some are worthy of chasing while others are not? I guess it’s just a human thing. We do it to ourselves, separating races and stereotyping, so why shouldn’t we do it to fish too? To me, the same guy that would throw a fish on land because it was a “garbage” fish is probably the same guy that leaves his trash behind at the water’s edge and poaches fish out of season and ignores limits. No respect for his surroundings. I go fishing to escape the human world. And I guess treating every fish as an equally good opportunity to enjoy nature is part of leaving humans behind for short periods of time on the water. Tomorrow I’m going after Pike, but I won’t be disappointed to find its smaller cousin the Pickerel on my streamers…Don’t even get me started on the whole Pickerel thing…