Fly fisherman like their backing dirty and wet. Thank goodness there are carp around!
That shit won't be white for long on one of my reels! Great day today.
Come say hello this Thursday in Salem, OR. I will be talking carp with the Santiam Fly Casters at the Pringle Community Center...the talk starts at 7, but come early for some casting and general bsing! Read more about it here.
Ona particularly great mail day a few weeks ago I found an Orvis Superfine Glass 5 weight on my doorstep. Thanks again Orvis! I have played with glass on and off over the years, but this is my first "modern" glass rod, and I was eager to get it out on the water. Granted, a five weight is a little light for big river fish, but I planned to hit the slough and some ponds and best up on some smaller carp. Well, you know what they say about the best made plans? Of course I couldn't resist casting to this big female when I saw her, laid up with two other big fish and seemingly just chilling. I laid a hybrid about three inches in front of her face, saw the gills flare and it was off to the races.
It got a little complicated here. I had an Orvis CFO reel, just a perfect little click and pawl, but not especially suited to stopping a 22 lb carp. I palmed the reel and watched the rod flex all the way to the cork as I attempts to steer the big girl out of a pile of sticks and a downed tree. It was quickly apparent that I wasn't going to force this fish to turn, so I switched it up and tried a little reverse psychology. I flipped the rod over and tried to pressure the fish toward the sticks, and miraculously, she swam away from them into open water. A few minutes later Travis slid the net under this beautiful fish.
After some celebration, we kept looking and in no time Travis had dropped a hybrid in from of this nice 16 lb athlete. Great early season fish for Travis!
As always, it was great fishing with Travis. We have been out together twice already this year, and hopefully can keep that going. Travis knows his stuff and is one of the best carp fisherman I know. He had two good looks at a mid 20s fish that just didn't eat on this trip, but next time out he will stick that monster!
A word on the Superfine...FUN! That really is the best possible way to describe this rod. It is an absolute joy to cast and to fight fish. I had no trouble casting a two fly rig and the rod handled the smaller fish just fine. I have landed around 35 carp on the rod so far and absolutely intend to find ways to keep fishing it, but when it comes time to hunt big river gravel bar fish I will bust out the heavy artillery and go H2 and Mirage reel. The Superfine forced me to slow down, relax, and enjoy the process as much as the result. I think occasionally we forget that part of fishing...at least I do and the last two outings have been a great reminder. This rod is meant to be fished and enjoyed, and I intend to do both as often as possible.
Yeah...that about covers the targets thing.
Two really cool things today. One, I fished with Ryan. He has been coming to presentations and corresponding with me for a while, and we finally hit the water together today. With a new baby on the way (congrats Ryan!) fishing time can be tough...glad it worked out. And two...I fished an Orvis Superfine Glass Rod. Incredibly FUN to fish that 5 wt...will write more on it later but the best way to describe it is FUN! Not going to replace my H2 as a tool, but I will find a way to chase small carp with this thing often. Great fun.
As for the fishing...they are starting to wake up! I had already caught around 85 fish this year, but maybe one or two actually pulled line from the reel. They woke up today, spooked, ran, fought a bit...it was pretty nice. It is only going to get better from here!
I caught my fill on hybrids, and Ryan did well also...sticking fish on a combination of hybrids and San Juan worms. The sun beat down and the fish were active...Ryan even stuck his first mirror! The season is here folks! Get out there, find any water that will be a few degrees warmer than the surrounding water and take a peak! Thanks again for a fun day Ryan!
Over the last couple of years this whole carp thing has really taken off. Tons of interest, from a huge range of locations and people...honestly, it has been a massive amount of fun. Carp are awesome, and more and more people are figuring that out. Good to see.
As people get more involved, there are two questions that pop up frequently. Number 1 is "where do you fish?" I have to admit here that I am not often super helpful. I grew up in MT, and as such I have lived my entire fishing life by the "show not tell" rule. Take the time to get to know me and if we can make it out to the water I am happy to show people around, but if have a tough time giving out anything other than general locations otherwise. Sorry, I know I suck...but "show not tell" is a hard thing for a Montana boy to shake.
Question #2 is simpler in many respects because I have zero issue sharing any other tips I can. I don't consider myself an expert, but I have been after carp a lot longer than many people out there and in this game experience matters. The problem with question #2 is that the answer isn't necessarily what people want to hear.
What kind of flies should I use?
Sounds simple enough, but to be honest, I spent about two months of futility when I got started because I asked the same question, and fished the flies that were the "answer."
The truth...there is no ONE magic carp fly that works for all carp...but there is likely ONE magic carp fly that will work for your carp. It all comes down to Rule #1: Know your forage. Carp are amazing creatures, and they will figure out how to maximize their caloric intake while expending the least amount of energy possible. This means that while they will feed on virtually anything, they will absolutely have a primary forage that will vary from body of water to body of water.
I spent two months on my home waters throwing wooly buggers, stripping crayfish patterns, and trying to get carp to chase a clouser swimming nymph. By all accounts those are three fine, fine carp fly patterns. But on the big C...I got stoned. The fish wouldn't chase, in fact more often than not they spooked and all I was doing was getting sun burnt and frustrated.
But I also got educated. If they wouldn't eat or chase those flies, I thought to myself, what were they eating. I flipped over rocks, dug hands into the mud and found small nymphs, aquatic worms and the like. These items can't sprint away from carp, so the fish didn't need to chase...and they were much smaller. I downsized...I slowed up my presentation and boom! I was into fish. A year or two later the clam revelation hit, and the numbers and size of the carp I began to catch went up in a hurry.
Now, when people ask me "What flies should I fish for carp?" The easy answer would be the Hybrid. I catch 80% of my carp on that fly, and it is a concrete answer that I can give complete with a picture, list of tying materials, and even a link to where you can buy some.
But it is the wrong answer. The right answer is to say Rule #1: Know your forage. I can't possibly know what fly you should use unless I know the forage your fish use. Figure that out, and you are in business. There are tons and tons of carp fly patterns out there, and they all will work in the right situation. Find out what situation you face...know your forage and then pick one of the myriad of patterns that have been and are being designed for that situation.
Last time I had a fly rod in hand was October. The long, cold winter, combined with a nasty shoulder injury has kept me on the sidelines, but I busted out in a big way today. The sun was out, so I took a gamble on a spot I know that usually has the first active fish of the year. They were there...a crapload of carp filled the shallows. A few were tailing, but most seemed to just be sitting there in the cold water, soaking up the rays in the shallows, bellies resting on the warm bottom. I was elated to just see some targets, but it didn't take me long to gear up and have at em.
The first fish I took a shot at was tailing. I made a short cast, dragged and dropped a hybrid (tied with Cohan hare line carp dub) within a few inches and the fish SLOWLY turned its head to eat. I set the hook prepared for reel screaming run, but instead the rod bent double, the fish rolled to the surface and just laid there. I dragged it in, took out the fly and cast at the next target.
Finding targets was easy. There were fish everywhere. In some cases I didn't have to move between releasing a fish, and casting at another. The only downside...the fish had no zip. The water was really cold, and their metabolism just hadn't fired up. I caught tons of carp, but none of them really fought. They could rouse enough energy to eat a fly two to three inches away, but that was all they had today. Still early, but just seeing so many takes felt great.
I think it is going to be a fantastic year!
Yeah...not my favorite season. For the record, I had been zipping along, staying busy with family, work, and life and it was starting to look like the carping season would be here before I could blink. Then the snow came. Portland was buried in the stuff...and just like that the season that seemed just a few weeks away was swept under a blanket of cold white stuff. Yuck.
We did have some fun the last couple of days:
Sorry for the radio silence of late. I haven't fished since October, but should get after some steelhead soon at a minimum. I got hit in our annual neighborhood Turkey Bowl this year and ended up with a broken nose, concussion, and the worst part, some nerve damage in my right shoulder. Been rehabbing and I am good to go and ready to chase some fish. Soon...even if I have to brave the snow.
Spring, despite how it looks in my front yard...is just around the corner.
I will be at Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn, OR this Saturday, January 25th at 10 am. Good chance to come by, talk some carp and eat some cookies! I plan to stick around for a while and tie a few flies, plus I will bring a bunch of Carp on the Fly hats, $20 if you are interested. If you aren't local, you can pick up a hat here: http://www.carp-on-the-fly.com
Hope to see a bunch of you there!