The Carpmen’s Creed

This story isn’t truly an “Old Time” tale, because it wasn’t written all that long ago. But fishing is as old a pastime as is humankind; surely Og the caveman spent time on the riverbank catching the leaping trout or the hulking carp? Making up fish tales is probably only a little bit newer of a past-time. I’ll bet Og told his wife about “the one that got away.” So with that in mind, I think what follows is a perfectly good match for the other Old Time stories.

“A man spends many sleepless nights on the riverbank trying to understand women, and many sleepless nights in bed trying to understand carp.” Now if you don’t think that’s funny, you’ve come to the wrong place. That line is one of many uttered by the Lepp brothers, Paul and Bil (yep, just one “l”), two of the funniest guys that the hills and hollers of West Virginia ever produced. They didn’t invent the annual West Virginia Liar’s Contest, but between the two of them, they’ve won it ten times. I highly recommend “The Monster Stick & Other Appalachian Tall Tales”, or any other book the Lepps have ever authored. The following is an excerpt from this book. I have no approval to put it here, and will remove it if so asked. In the meantime, enjoy.

I – (state your name) – do solemly swear:

  • To never cause undue injury to any carp, using utmost care in hooking my fish, and keeping it out of the water only long enough for everyone to see it.
  • To never weigh or measure any carp with reliable scales, which action might leave emotional scars upon smaller fish, but instead to make an honest estimation of its huge size to the best of my ability.
  • To never set the drag on my reel lighter than necessary to make it scream at the slightest nibble or at the weight of my sinkers.
  • To never play a snag like a big fish to impress passing boaters.
  • To never round off to an “even dozen” any fewer than seven carp.
  • To never kick my partner’s rod when he isn’t looking to make him think he’s getting a bite.
  • To never kick my partner, no matter how many nor how big the carp he catches.
  • To try and limit the size of “the one that got away” to a length of not more than four feet and weight of not more than thirty pounds, unless it was obviously bigger.
  • To always reveal to all fellow carpmen the exact location of hotspots (give or take a county).
  • To try not to laugh at trouters who brag about four-pound “monsters”.
  • Naturally, given that the art of carp angling is one of adaptability, certain rules may be modified from Time to time as circumstances require, providing strict procedural guidelines are followed. In order for An amendment to be deemed proper, the amending angler must: (a) lie like hell, and (b) get away with it.