Thursday, June 23, 2016

Lake MI

49 lbs of Carp
What can you really say about Lake MI?  I love my home waters of the Columbia river, but every year I look forward to a few days on Lake MI with Justin.  The big lake is unreal...just a treasure of a resource with clear water, firm flats, easy wading and big, meat eating carp.  The window is narrow and the fish can dissapear on you in a hurry, but when the lake is is ON. 
Bad mama right here
This year was a perfect example of the glory and disaster that can be lake MI carp on the fly.  Day one dawned cool, wet and with no sun in sight.  Day two...ditto.  We scraped and clawed our way to 4 total carp in two days and the only reason we weren't totally despondent and grumpy is we had each caught a couple of awe on fish.  I lucked into a 34 lb catfish on day one; a lifetime fish for me that basically set me up for the entire trip, and Justin caught a 26 lb carp and a 10 lb freshwater drum.  All were great catches, but none were on the flats we loved.  Bottom line, with terrible weather the flats were empty and things looked bleak.  Well...not that bad.
Big kitty!
We woke day three and the sun was out.  It was a bluebird day, perfect weather and a great wind.  By late afternoon the water had warmed and fish were streaming into the shallows.  We caught some fish, but really were just getting set up for what would be an absolute Mt. Rushmore day on day four.  We sat in the hotel that night and tied flies like crazy people...we knew the fish were in, and we knew what they wanted. 
Mt. Rushmore Indeed
By 930 on Day 4 I had two fish over 20 lbs to hand, and Justin had stuck some incredibly aggressive fish on the rock edges.  All I can really say is we were glad we tied flies.  We absolutely slayed carp.  We found fish in every imaginable setting; cruising the rocks, laid up in the shallows, spawning, tailing (yes tailers on lake MI) and flat our marauding around like the Pirates of old.  We fished all day, burned the sun into the water and walked out in a semi gloom and a rare silence between two old friends.  We barely knew what to say.  Once at the car, we looked at each other and went over a few numbers.  Between the two of us, we had landed over 70 carp.  I landed 8 fish over 20 lbs (my personal record) and Justin added two more to that for a total of 10.  This day was easily on our Mt. Rushmore...and over the years J and I have had some days together on the water.  
Meat Eater
The next day I flew home...but not before we stuck a few more carp.  When Lake MI is really is on.  All told for the trip we landed roughly 100 carp, 3 cats, a handful of bass and a bunch of freshwater drum (plus one lonely quill back carp sucker).  It is always a gamble to fly across the country and wander around in giant water looking for a spooky fish that rides the waves and the temperature variance...sometimes we get it wrong and that can suck.  But then occasionally...we nail it.  Getting it right once in a while is all you really need.  We'll be back next year.  Thanks for a great trip J!  

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Spring fishing

What can you possibly say about spring fishing?
Wendy with an 18 lber from carpcon2
Big gravel bar fish
Flycarpin getting it done at carpcon2
I got a few as well
Lesson, always have the bigger fish.
Mirror, mirror
Clam eater
Just a girl and her carp
It has been a great spring!

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Heating up!

Great day on the water today!  The fish are getting active and a well placed hybrid was generally rewarded with the sight of your backing.  At one point, in a narrow channel just choked with carp, I had fish literally racing each other to the fly.  That doesn't happen often on the big C. You gotta take advantage of it.
I love mirrors
I covered a lot of water, and it paid off.  I ended the day landing four carp over 20 lbs, two big mirrors (15 and 17 lbs), a bunch of high teens fish and too many 8-11 lb fish to count. Unreal day of carping on the Columbia.
This was one for the memory bank.  I love spring!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Hot Streak Continues

Hybrid Eater
I was thinking about this fish on the way home today.  Great fish, a solid 22 lbs and when combined with a 21 from earlier in the day, my hot streak continues.  Not seeing a ton of fish, but the fish I am seeing are players, and the average size has been up this early season.  The river should warm a bit in the next few weeks and it is going to be a fantastic May and June.  Back to the fish above...super subtle take.  She was tailing in thigh deep water and I couldn't really see her head...just a tail breaking the surface and a mud cloud.  I made a good cast, and dragged the hybrid into position near the fish, then let it sink.  As always, I made no attempt to watch the flies, and instead focused on the fish, but the real trick was I counted in my head.  The very first thing I do when I get to the water is toss my two fly rig in knee and thigh deep water and get a count of how long it takes for those flies to hit bottom.  Today, with the combo I had it was a five count.  I watched the fish, and counted in my head and as I thought "five" the fish's tail sped up...just a tiny bit but knowing my flies had hit the bottom at that moment was enough.  I set the hook and a few minutes later slid this beauty into the net.   It isn't talked about much but knowing your flies sink rate is crucial.  In an ideal world you could always see your fly, but normally I can only see where they were during the drag, and I lose them on the drop.  When that happens, focus on the fish, but count the flies down.  On the big C carp will often reach up and take a sinking hybrid, but that take is easy to detect.  The body position changes drastically and a white mouth flashes brightly.  The eat once the flies are on the bottom is a lot harder to detect.  It sure helps to know the exact moment your fly hits the bottom, as that is often the trigger for a clam eating Columbia river carp.   

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Back in the saddle

A good start!  
Early season out here is a crap shoot.  If the sun is out for a few days in a row, the fish react well and you can have a great day.  A little rain, clouds, or cold weather and you may as well stay home.  Today looked good.  Lots of consecutive sun, and I knew the ponds would be hot with active fish milling around.  I started out in the am chasing pond fish, but that really isn't my favorite.  After catching a few I decided to gamble and try an area of the river that sometimes heats up early.  Well, it was hot!
Hybrid Eater   
 I walked about a mile without seeing a fish, but then I stumbled onto one...then two.  A few minutes later I had seen 5 and while I was still fish less on the river, I knew I had a good chance.  The first fish I hooked weighed 18 lbs, and then I found the mother load. A massive pile of fish had tucked into one stretch of river (it was notably warmer).  I snuck through the river on the deep side, staying in the cold water and trying to pick out the biggest fish in the pile.  That strategy worked.  I could have caught more fish, but by being choosy, I caught all kinds of quality fish.  I ended up with around a dozen or so carp, 4 really big ones at 20, 21, 22, and 24 lbs! All the fish ate the hybrid, with most of them eating on the drop. Only a couple were really tailing, but a well placed fly would get one of the sleeping fish to simply follow it down and when the mouth flashed white I would set the hook.  Great first day on the river!
I love it when they give you the fin.
   I won't get out for a few weeks, but the water needs some more time anyway.  All told I walked about 2 miles and all the fish were in a 100 yard area that had a nice temp difference.  Overall, the river was pretty cold (46 degrees).  Another couple of weeks when the temps get into the mid 50s and it is going to be red hot!  Pray for more sun!        

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Been a while

It has been an interesting year for blogging. I just haven't had the energy or desire to do much more than fire out the (very) occasional post. I blame most of this on me, some of it on work, and a part of it on social media. Instagram in particular is an easy blogging "cheat." A few words, a photo and boom...a post where you can talk some carp. Well, not writing tonight to do anything but continue to general apathy here. At least right now it is for a different reason. I haven't fished much, and probably won't until spring hits. JJ has the basketball bug and I am having too much fun working with him to worry about winter steelhead.


That said...spring is coming soon. The carp will be in shallow and I will be there, rod in hand, stalking and hunting. It won't be long now. Winter sucks.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Last day of the season

The first fish I spotted was literally sitting motionless exactly where I had planned to step into the river. It was a pleasant surprise, but of course I managed to blow it. We started a hashtag on Instagram a year or two ago at the behest of my buddy Dan, owner of Carp Pro. I have been tagging photos #carppro for quite some time now, but in no way did I ever mean to claim that I was worthy of such a tag, it was meant as an homage to Dan's company, a great resource for us carp on the fly guys. I occasionally see someone tag a photo #notacarppro and then I feel bad. The moment I blew that fish on Sunday I made a mental note to add that hashtag to my list for frequent use. I figured that might be the best shot that I would get all day.

It wasn't. The fish were around, if not very active. I saw three tailing fish, and caugh them all. 2/3 of the way through my planned river walk, roughly one mile to go and I had seen 13 fish. In June, I would have expected to see 10 times that number in the same area. Things are winding down.

I finished with 8 to the net, with one nice 16 photo. I have too many photos. It was a casual day, and while I always get excited when a carp comes into view and I get to plan a stalk, I only had one real heart in my throat moment.

I was walking back, and moving quickly along the shoreline. Still, I couldn't resist poking my head through the brush now and again. I almost never recycle water on the big C but the numbers on the way out had been so low I figured a fish could pop up anywhere. I was right. I stuck my head through some brush and there was a giant log of a carp laying in the shallows. She wasn't eating, just sitting there, but any carp in knee deep water is programmed to at least acknowledge food. I snuck around behind her and found a hole in the brush, then stalked her from directly behind. At two rod lengths I made a flip cast and used a drag and drop and flip to put the flies into position...both sinking in a line perpendicular to the fish, each fly falling just where I wanted it to. She turned and ate the hybrid on the drop.

When I played basketball I never left a gym without making my last shot. Ever. I would sneak out of locker rooms in opposing gyms to make a quick layup, or grab a ball on my way to the bus. This felt like that. It felt like my last shot...but not a layup while the managers packed the bags, this was a game winning three from deep. She was a big fish, and she took off to my backing. I tried to get a mental image of just how long this fish was, but it was already slipping away. I looked around as the fish blasted into my backing, trying to find the right bush for the photo (the five of you that read this blog know I am good at photos of me, a fish and a bush!). All this cocky thinking and dreams of my college days...well, that shit don't fly when you haven't even handled the first run. She found the ledges, tucked into one, came tight for a moment and then sawed my leader in half.

So it goes. The big C for me is (probably) done. I missed my last shot, but as we get older even the shots we miss are pretty fun.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Social Media

I know the blog has been quiet this year. Simply put, time is an issue. It takes time to blog, so regrettably, social media has sort of become a much bigger outlet. It is awfully easy to post a picture on Instagram, say a few words and then interact via comments and direct messages. I have to admit, I dig Instagram. It is just way easier to interact with other carpers than through comments on a blog. I promise to write more this winter...I actually have a list of ideas jotted down, and quite a few single fish that I caught, or screwed up, have stuck in my head this season and will probably make it to the blog. It was a great year, not ready to officially call it as I plan to get out again, but it feels like the season is nearly over. I have at least one day in CO with the legendary McTage from Fly-Carpin coming up...can't wait to see his home water!

So until time allows more, check out #carponthefly on Instagram. There are over 11,000 photos under that it safe to say that catching carp on the fly is now mainstream?




Friday, September 25, 2015


Honestly, I have no idea what to say about this trip. Mike, Dan, Justin and I headed to the Royal Coachman Lodge for a week of fishing, and to leave my dad's ashes in some of the places he loved. Pretty clear that dad was with us the entire time, as the fishing, the experience, the was all just amazing. The group at the Coachman is outstanding. All of the guides were respectful, as well as being top notch at their jobs. It is a tough thing, laying your dad to rest again, but he wanted to be up there, and I think we found some great spots and moments.

More later, but for now it is best to let a few photos tell the tale...














Photos are from a variety of cameras...the good ones are likely Justin or Dan's.


Huge thanks to my friends for going with me. I had a few tough moments up there, and simply couldn't have done this alone.