Izaak Walton called her 'the queen of the rivers' Jethro Hatfield calls her 'some derned fine eatin'. Prithee, what do you say about Ms. Carp? I, personally know few words adequate to describe this ubiquitous citizen of our water ways. Words like puckeritudinous, tweescent, and piscanthropic spring to mind, but few words I can invent get to the core of the mystery surrounding this much maligned and much loved import from Asia.

   Most certainly carp have tweescence. At least when they are up in a twee, I'm pretty sure they can sense it. In fact, my observation of carp, (a lifetime’s effort) has shown me that carp may have much more than tweescence. Some times they almost seem to have six or seven. And for twoscence I'd go into this further.

   One needs but observe the hectickity of his actions to discern this. I have observed on the same water seasoned Nebraskan carp addicts fish fanatically for them a whole day with never a nibble; and I have seen my own son haul in a ten pounder the first time he ever laid his seven-year-old little hands on a rod. Now that, my friend is tweescence. Or is it tweescentwicity?

   As for puckeritudity, only the noble Bois de Souix red horse sucker comes anywhere near matching the carp for puckeritudity unless one were to mention certain women and certain uncertain men before their mirrors. For as the bard once said, 'there was never fair lady but she made mouths in a glass.' And 'mouthe' how they will, they'll never out-pucker the queen of the rivers, Ms. Carp.

   Certainly the carp, whose piscanthropicity speaks for itself, also defies all culinary logic. Some call it the finest smoked fish next to king salmon, while others carp that all carp should be used for fertilizer.

   Who are we to believe? Shall it be Jaques Horatio Herter, who in his world-renowned recipe for 'carpe par les vous usted espanol' calls carp a dish fit for the gods. Or shall it be my German uncle, Roy Strobusch, who sampling carp for the first time, proclaimed "- Auf wieder schitzen! Who und himmel put mud in mine fish?"

    I would love to be able to tell you how to make carp taste good, but a severe sinus infection years ago knocked out my olfactory nerves, and I have ben quite tasteless ever since, as this article certainly demonstrates.

         Perhaps the secret of the Carp's puissance as well as its pusillanimity is this: he is the Archie Bunker of the squamous tribe. You will either love him or you'll hate him. But only the man who's been slugged up side the head with a 20 pounder can totally disregard him. (G.P.)

 A postscript for fishermen

   Here's an April tip for all you young river rats who can't wait to wet a line: from early April up to the beginning of the game-fish season, May 1st, there is always a healthy run of pucker fish in the red River and all its tributaries. If you can find some quieter eddies or backwaters where the sun has warmed up the water a bit, you are almost certain to find red horse, carp, drum and bullheads hanging out in the area where the fast water meets the slow.

   A nightcrawler presented on light spinning tackle on a no. 4 bait holder hook and suspended just off the bottom under a 1'’ clip-on float should get you into some fine action in a hurry. Use only a split shot or two for weight and don't scare the fish off with big ugly leaders and snaps. If the water’s too deep, go to a lindy rig and use a sensitive rod to feel those subtle bites that carp are so well known for. If you don’t have the time of your life, some fish-bigoted adult has probably poisoned your mind against these great fish. Just have fun catching them and throwing them back. Please don't leave the bank littered with dead fish. It is poor sportsmanship and against the law to boot.

   By the way, carp can be quite good eating IF someone knows how to cook them. But that’s a mighty big IF. Good Fishing. 'God does not deduct from the allotted time of man, those hours blessed in fishing.' (Ancient Proverb) 

* First published in “Where the Wild Thyme Blows” spring 1974