Jorge Rojas thinks big when he goes fishing at Lake Fayetteville.
Big means carp weighing 20 pounds or more for Rojas and his son, David, 8, on their trips most Sundays to the Fayetteville city lake.
Other anglers ignore these homely but fun to catch fish — until they see the father and son reeling in the big ones.
“People see us doing it and start asking how we’re catching them,” said Rojas of Springdale.
He’s caught carp up to 78 pounds. Most weigh 20 to 40 pounds. Father and son enjoy catching them and letting them go. Catfish are another story. The get released into a skillet at home.
The Rojas team uses similar tactics for carp and catfish. Heavy line is a must. So are stout hooks that’ll handle the biggest fish in the lake. Using the right bait is key to catching carp.
Rojas threads a piece of bread on a hook and sprinkles imitation vanilla extract on the bread. The combination brings jarring strikes from big carp at Lake Fayetteville.
“They hit it hard,” said David, a student at Bayyari Elementary in Springdale. “I like catching them. Sometimes we start by fishing for catfish, but the carp fight harder.”
They use cut sunfish or big minnows to catch catfish.
Jorge showed how easy it is to rig a rod for carp. He crimped a one-eighth-ounce split shot sinker on heavy line about eight inches above a strong, single point hook. Jorge has had carp break 100 pound test line.
All their carp fishing is from the public fishing dock near the lake office. They don’t use a boat. Water in front of the dock runs about eight feet deep.
Fishing is best in late winter and spring if the wind isn’t blowing hard. As the water warms near summertime, carp fishing gets slower, Jorge said. Fishing was tough when we visited Jorge and David at the lake on a cold, breezy Sunday, March 5. On a good day they might catch and release 20 carp.
Dad and son started targeting carp five years ago after seeing some big carp swimming in the lake. It took trial and error to find the right bait.
“We started out using corn. Then we tried mixing the corn with oatmeal,” Jorge said. Later, they tried bread mixed with bananas, “but that wasn’t good.”
Jorge got the notion to add vanilla extract to a chuck of bread. Bingo, a magic carp bait was born.
Coarse bread, such as a hoagie roll, works best. Sometimes the bread comes in handy. “If I get hungry I can make a sandwich,” Jorge said.
Carp and catfish aren’t the only fish anglers can catch from the public dock, said David Powell, who helps out occasionally at the lake office and marina. Bass, crappie and bluegill are in the lake.
“There are fish attractors all around the dock, mainly concrete blocks with limbs. In May and June, you’ll see those carp splashing around close to shore,” Powell said.
Cost is $3 per day to fish from the dock. Annual permits are available that are also good at Lake Sequoyah, another Fayetteville city lake with good fishing.
Sometimes the Rojas team fishes at Lake Springdale or Lake Atalanta in Rogers. They’ve caught carp at both lakes. No matter where they fish, they have the carp to themselves — until others see them catch a 30-pounder.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @NWAFlip
Sports on 04/11/2017