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.


Thursday, September 03, 2015


Been a slow year on the blog, for that I apologize.  Frankly, my energy has been spent elsewhere, which I don't regret.  I'm also about to take off for Alaska with some good friends.  This trip is a repeat from several years ago with my dad, and while I am excited to see that great state again, I'm a little nervous as well.  I'm bringing my dad with me, intending to spread his ashes on many of the places he loved.  This will be a bittersweet trip, but I plan to do my best to focus on the moment and find the joy...that is what my dad would have done.

We all fly to Anchorage on Sept. 12th and I'm sure I'll have something to say about this trip.  I've been reading through the old reports (Sept. of 2011 if anyone is interested) and found this comment from my dad.  He really was the best.

It was a trip that was truly an adventure as well as just plain fun. It was comically difficult for John to have the guides do everything for him (I loved being pampered totally!) and he was always jumping out of the boat in the middle of the river to cast or land a fish (which is normally fully frowned upon and not allowed. One can wade fish fine but it begins after going to shore and having a steady platform to exit and reenter). After the first day, the word got around that his ol' man didn't worry about him drowning and was secretly hoping he'd slip and soak himself so they just put up with it and hoped he didn't break an ankle during landings. We had a woderful time and we didn't even have to untangle the fly lines when John wasn't paying attention and cast when I was casting to poach a fish in front of him. When he would whine about me supposed to be fishing out and down from the boat, I would just turn off my hearing aids.

Every single lunch break, a fabulous affair with each item served by the guide as I relaxed in wonderful style, John would keep fishing. Of course he'd hook one just as my coffee was being poured or the guide was fixing my soup after handing me a huge sandwich and they would get this anxious look to grab the net and move to the action. I pointedly informed them that this was a Union Shop and they were entitled to serve me and enjoy their own meal and forget about John. He could land his own fish or loose them! We were going to have lunch! So, to compromise, the guides ate fast. John beached many a bruiser anyway and always held the fish up trying to make me jealous or something. I'd raise my coffee cup to acknowledge that yes, I did see that battle. 
The Reel John Montana

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Horse head

Fishing is getting tougher, but if you work for em, you can find em. Hooked this big horse head today on a size 10 hybrid. Dark clouds, rain, and 20 mph winds...not exactly a carpers dream but the best time to fish is when you can fish.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Haven't had time to write

But the fishing has been pretty good of late. Only issue is the weeds. Bring heavy tipper and hang on tight. The low water and weed cover is a tough combo, but there are still fish to be caught!

Been fishing this Swift Flyfishing Epic bandit, an 8 foot ten weight glass rod. Super fun!  Paired with a ridiculously loud Orvis battenkill Spey reel, it makes for an entertaining set up. Elia went with me this last outing, and introduced me to her "stealth" mode. This seemed to consist of laying in the water with just her head showing and crawling along the bottom to avoid spooking the carp. Not super effective, but she sure enjoyed it. 

Get out and fish!