Carp adventure in Pennsylvania

I don’t normally do social fishing too often; Over time I have found myself more often than not fishing alone. Don’t get me wrong I do enjoy the company of other anglers from time to time.

 I guess after a while you just get use to focusing on the task at hand, to be honest I enjoy the solitude and silence. I suppose I have become somewhat of a hermit in my angling. I generally go and return in the hours of darkness. Albeit, I do occasionally enjoy the bankside banter and company of other like-minded anglers.

Joel Harber carp angling in USA Pennsylvania
Angling for carp in the USA

when the offer of an invite to join a social came up to go and fish, I jumped on it. With a change of scenery and the opportunity to go out of state to get the rods out on a very large water, it seemed like a no brainer. It is known for some very impressive past captures of fish well over the 30lb mark. Taking a look at the drive it wasn’t all that bad, five and half hours.

The plan was to meet up with a good number of anglers, some thirty or more. We would fish the following day together in a large open area that by all past accounts had been very productive over the years. For the first night of my arrival to the lake I had planned on spending the night at a state camp grounds that funnily enough backed right onto the lake itself, nestled into one of the lakes arms. I was planning to stay on there after the social. Either way I was looking forwards to getting the rods out and hopeful for picking up a fish.

The five and half hour drive flew by, with some tunes on and a few snacks for the road, I was soon pulling up into my site for the night. It worked out that Dave Moore and Phil “golden Balls” Saunders had the same plans and had arrived the night before me. They had set up camp in the spot just one over from me.  After having a quick chat and a sort out, grabbing the bare necessity’s I made my way down to the water and got my home for the night set up and then got to throwing a lead about.

Joel Harber carp angling in USA Pennsylvania
Base camp for the Pennsylvania carp adventure

Quickly I found an obvious, large clear area, right at the foot of a slope, just a little way out to the right of me. On feeling the lead down it was solid! Checking the depth, the lead was falling hard into about eighteen feet of water at a very comfortable fifteen wraps and just so happened to be on the far side of a long running weed bed, magic! The light was fading fast and with that I didn’t have the time to get overly complicated with the rigs and besides most of the time the simple rigs seem to always do a top job.  With the large amounts of weed growth and the opportunity of picking up a bigger fish than normal, I needed something strong yet supple. I went Kryston snake skin, perfect for this situation. I tied up a simple no frills knotless knot rig stripping back a small amount of the coating on the hair and just above the hook, steamed a small section of shrink tube, mounted two 20mm Nash pineapple crush bottom baits along with a small stringer of six half baits, and out it went.

Joel Harber carp angling in USA Pennsylvania
My knotless knot rig with two 20mm Nash Pineapple Crush bottom baits.

The first rod went out onto the spot and hit down perfectly, quickly followed by the second, feeling it down it also felt good. I followed up with a scattering of 20mm bottom baits about half a kg or so. I was hopeful, yet honestly unsure if anything would develop. Darkness came and I made my way over to Dave and Phil, we found ourselves enjoying some bank side banter, With the fire doing its thing off in the background. The occasional fizz and pop off the burning embers and smoke from the damp wood drifted its way down to us at the water’s edge keeping the bugs at bay. It was not long till the drive took its toll on me and I retired for the night back to my swim. Lights out!

I am not going to lie, but when you are hard asleep and you get a full-on melt down take. Now that is a way to be awoken! With a quick glance at my phone to see the time, while pushing my feet in to my boots, I made my way out of the brolly and into the moon light, lifting the left hand rod. The fish took line and made its way off to the far left! Success! Moments later, and now just feet from the bank the fish rolled on the surface. A very flat, calm and somewhat fogy lake, lit up from the glare of the moon as the calm water was now broken as the fish it hit the surface and taking a gulp of air and turning away from me leaving a big fizz of bubbles that bellowed from its gills, as my head lamp shone down on the fish, I lifted the net! It was in!  My first fish ever from Pennsylvania! I was happy to be off the mark, but I took no time to get after another. I popped the rig out and shortly after letting the fish rest for a few moments before setting it on its way home.  What a result! I was wide awake and over the moon to say the least. It was a solid common to start out this session. It was probably around the low 20lb range. Regardless, it had slipped up and if there is one, there are sure to be more. I clipped up on the distance sticks, clipped on a new rig, same as before and out it went. lining up with a tree on the opposite bank. Hitting the clip, again hitting the lake bed hard.

Joel Harber carp angling in USA Pennsylvania
My first carp ever from Pennsylvania.

As it goes, the last few hours of darkness came and passed without a bite developing. As I sat and watched the water the far bank became alive with many fish showing me signs of their arrival for the morning feed, still very happy with the results of this first fish.

The sun was almost up now and on a quick look, Dave and Phil and already departed their site and made their way over to the social. I planned on getting there for around 8:00 AM. With two hours to go, I got a brew going, sat back and watched the water. Watching the towers of fog swirl around the surface of the lake as the sun hit the top of the tree line, it really was a sight to see. Along with that, the fish really started to show. And If it couldn’t get any better… out of the silence the left hand rod once again was away. The fish ran right out and held the bottom, just chugging along, it felt slow and heavy. It was not long before I was gaining line back and soon enough the fish topped and rolled over showing its flank of dark golden scales. It was another thick common and better than the first one. The margin battle was a good one with the fish taking a few deep lunges and finally surfacing to show its self and allowing me to lift the rod and then the net. In it went, as the fish sank into the bottom of my net, I could see it was a good fish.

Joel Harber carp angling in USA Pennsylvania
There was fish number two!

There is was fish number two! It was easily the better of the two and with a few more lb.’s. It was a bit of a looker also with a few strange scales patterns on the one side. I got the camera out and set up with the remote ready for a few quick shots. It was no doubt the fish had been feeding on the bait of choice, while laying it onto the mat the fish passed some bright orange/yellow digested boilie sludge. Always a good sign and boosted my confidence. A solid fish for the second one of the session! What a result!

Joel Harber carp angling in USA Pennsylvania
…with a flank of dark golden scales.

Time was getting on, so I packed up the gear and made my way up to the showers on the camp site for a quick pit stop, and then off to meet the guys over at the area for the social. Buzzing from both the of captures I of course I topped up the hot spot with a good amount of bait before I took off. I had left with plans of holding a few fish or at least to hopefully pull in a few fish for the evening to come.

The day at the social was a good day, I didn’t even bother to fish while there. Sometimes just chilling with some good guys and enjoying the atmosphere and a BBQ is good enough. A few fish where caught and plenty of good laughs’ where had and talks of setting up another for the following year where in the air. All in all, a success! A big thank you to Brian Wingard and Brian V for putting it all together and doing a banging BBQ. After all the fun and games was said and done I packed up my few bits in to the car and made my way back round to the camp site again, quickly stopping off into one of the other bays a little further round the lake, on the opposite bank from where I had fished last night. It is always good to look around and watch the water for a while. You may catch a glimpse of a few fish showing. I didn’t see any, so I moved on.

Joel Harber carp angling in USA Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Autumn lake view.

Honestly I was very focused on getting back to the swim behind the camp site, furthermore, looking forwards to getting the rods out to hopefully connect with another solid fish. I arrived back to the site and in no time had the rods out, back on that lovely clear, hard spot I had found the night before. It wasn’t long before I got the kettle on and once again sat back watching the water for signs of fish.  

The following afternoon passed quietly with only a handful of fish to show for my efforts.

It was time to start packing down the gear and to get myself ready for the drive home. But honestly, after looking at the weather, it looked like a huge front was to be moving in by early evening, along with it a threat of a tornado. This to me, meant a huge change in how the fishing was or could be. With the possibility a weather front like this could push fish into a feeding mode and make all the difference. Like any angler would with this situation, I chose to stay on one more night. I handed over my receiver to Dave, and swiftly drove up to the camp office to pay for one more night on the site. Funnily enough, just as I got back to the site, pulled up and parked the car… “you’ve got a run” Dave shouted over. I took off down the small path and through the tree line to arrive at my rods, this time picking up the right hand rod. By the time I wound down the slack, it had fully weeded up. I gave it a little pressure, and after a few heavy head shakes the fish was free. It had dropped the lead and risen to the surface, I couldn’t have asked for it to have gone a better way. It was a strange fight on the surface, but none the less a good one with the fish ending up in the net. On weighing, with no complaints, the needle spun round to a solid 28lb 13oz, Just shy of the 30lb mark. Again bumping me up a little more to the 30lb goal I had set out to get.

Joel Harber carp angling in USA Pennsylvania
That moment that makes you feel being on top of the world.

 With the weather moving in and now another night secured on this spot it was all or nothing. I said my good byes to Dave and Phil as by now they had packed up and ready to head out.  Off I went back to my swim for one last night. I topped up the bait little but often going forwards. I kept the left rod on the “hot spot” from the days before.

While I had it in, I began using the other rod to drag a lead at range. Shortly after finding another very hard area that ended up at 37 wraps on the distance sticks and ways off to right from the other rod. I dropped it out there with a heathy scattering of baits. Sitting with the kettle on, I watched the water from time to time as I sat and put some rigs together ready for the evening. In anticipation of picking up a few bites.

Joel Harber carp angling in USA Pennsylvania

 It wasn’t long before my thoughts of the weather front moving in turned out to be spot on. Just three hours after choosing to stay on, recasting my right hand rod had worked out well, I had picked up a few more fish. all the while the left hand rod didn’t get a touch. I am not one to give up on a spot that had been producing fish or move my rods to recast a lot. So I sat on it, and left it out there. I am very glad I did. The bite died off in the early hours and after a few smaller fish and the high winds and rain had passed I was soon able to get a few hours’ sleep after changing in to some dry clothing.

It was early AM when I was woken to yet again that left hand rod on a slow steady run. Funnily enough soon as I picked up the rod the fish turned and swam right in towards me. But soon as it was in the margin, the fight was on. Some ten minutes later, it finally gave up. I slowly sipped the net under it and in it went. Turning on my head lamp I could see it was a good fish. Not only a wide fish but long and with a huge tail. I removed the rig, and put the fish in the sack for the remaining hour of darkness. It wasn’t long before the sun once again pushed its way up and over the tree line. I couldn’t wait any more. I had to take a proper look.  32lb 7oz! And there it was!!!! Not only the fish I had hoped of but a stunning one at that. I got the camera ready once again, this time for the last time during this session. A few photos of it and I slowly sat it back into the water beside me, with a few slow kicks of its large tail it slowly swayed and moved away out of my hands and was gone.

Joel Harber carp angling in USA Pennsylvania
32lb 7oz, more than I could have hoped for.

It could not have ended better. For the last time this session I sat back with one rod still out and the other laying up against my bivvy. As I sat there enjoying my last bank side cupper, I was so thankful that I pushed myself and stayed on the extra night. Fishing through the rain and very high winds was so very worth it. With the sun well and truly above me. It was like last night’s weather had not even passed through. Shorts and T-shirt on as I began to move out. The fish had clearly by this time moved out, and rightly so.  Just as fast as they moved in and turned on the feed they were gone again.  I got my gear packed down, loaded into the car ready to make the drive back home from Pennsylvania to Connecticut. What a result it was! Not by any means the biggest of fish to grace my net, but this was more than that. It was pure passion and to just enjoy the moment. I reached my goal this time around and loved every moment of it.

Joel Harber carp angling in USA Pennsylvania

 If you ever get the chance to visit Pennsylvania, USA. I would highly recommend stopping over. Hidden quietly between the rolling hills and the many, many wooded miles are some amazing waters to fish. I know for sure I will be back again, very soon to try once again for some more of these amazing fish.

Joel Harber