Friday, July 25, 2014

I Miss Carp

When we were out in St. Stephen's Green earlier this July, I saw something in the murky, greenish, bird-waste-fouled canal water that made my heart sing...

St. Stephen' Green Carp
St. Stephen' Green Carp

There it was! A large common carp in the foot-deep Stephen's Green pond. I couldn't help myself as I rushed to the waterside. Sara got the great photo of this healthy monster there in the pond. I don't think they would look too kindly on me fishing in the park's lake, so this guy is safe for now.

I was similarly excited when we were in Prague looking into the Vltava River. From a high bridge, I spotted this beauty amidst a pile of river garbage.

Carp in Vltava River Prague, Czech Republic
Vltava Carp

...But of course, we all know that Eastern European people love their carp, especially at Christmas time...

Advertisement for carp at Polish market in Dublin
Get Your Pre-Orders in for Carp!

And I don't mean to poke fun to the good people of Eastern Europe. I enjoyed a good carp in the States, particularly when smoked in my cardboard box smoker.

I wrote about my nostalgia for Midwestern freshwater river fish in our retrospective post, and seeing the occasional carp gets my heart racing remembering days like this...

...When I could walk or bike down to Clear Creek in the summertime and catch as many river monsters as I could fit into a cooler.

Today, carp seem to be much more difficult to find, at least in such large numbers, close to me in the city. I hear rumblings of carp catches in the Grand Canal, but I have yet to actually see a carp in the canal, even in pools that have particularly good reputations for fishing like Baggot Street and Portobello.

Even if there are a few carp in the Canal, who knows if my old boiled dough balls would be of any use in the urban waters of Dublin. Further, if I were to score a few carp, I don't have my filet knife and box smoker to prepare the smoked carp I so much enjoyed making in Iowa.

I really miss the process of smoking carp, maybe more than the smoked fish itself. Soaking the fish in brine overnight, washing off all the slime, preparing the smoker box with the electric hot plate and old cast iron skillet full of woodchips, putting the fish on the rack, and tending it for hours and hours. On a sunny day, with the game on the radio, a big bag of sunflower seeds, and a cold beverage, smoking carp could be a very rewarding experience.

Even though I can't smoke them, I still haven't given up on trying for carp here in Dublin. Someday, I'll get my hands on one, and though it won't be an Iowa River beauty, it will take me back to those sunny days on the riverbank and the box smoker.

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