Sunday, April 30, 2006

Kind of a frustrating day today. Dave, Kim and I headed to Sauvies Island to chase some carp. My fishing times of late have come in short, hour to two hour long increments, so I was excited to spend a good portion of today out on the water. While I've had some success lately, there is just no substitute for time on the water.

We checked out a pond that Dave had found full of carp last week. Not the case today though. The water was clear and perfect, but we saw only a few carp. This is the type of water that would be a dream if the fish were in at the same time you were there. Clear water, grassy reeds, some open patches...just a fantastic spot to stalk through the shallows looking for carp.

We drove around and hit a few other spots, and we did see some fish. Unfortunately most of the places we saw fish were so murky it was impossible to really fish for them. It was great to fish with Dave and Kim, and we found some good water to hit at a later date.

I got home and played with Kelly and Elia for a bit, then decided to head out while the sun was still out and look for Highway Cone. I got to his lake and headed down to where I expected to find him. Once there I noticed a big tail sticking out of the water, and bubbles floating to the surface. I got excited and hurried to rig my rod up, and in my hurry I completely knotted my leader. It was so bad I had to clip it off and retie a new leader...all the while the sun was dropping. I got re-rigged and put a crayfish pattern on in time to spot several more tailing fish. All of the fish I could see were large, but the sun was at a terrible angle, so I could not make out more than just a tail, and that only if the fish were really close. I messed up quite a few of these feeding fish but finally got in a good position with a really big fish close to shore. This was a huge carp...Clearly a big female. I dropped the fly in and her tail sped up so I set the hook. Fish on! After a minute I realized that this would be the biggest carp I'd ever caught. This fish was huge and kept running out line only to be brought close to shore where she would thrash so much I got wet from the splash. I started to think about how to get a good picture of this big girl, so of course, I screwed up and broke her off. She made a big run and I must have palmed the reel a little too hard...Pow...It was over.

I hooked two more fish that night, one another really nice fish that had to be between 15-20 lbs, the other a male in the 10 lb range. Both fish broke me off. The funny thing is, the only leader I had with me after the mess earlier that night was a 3x leader. One size bigger than I usually fish.

Still a fun, but frustrating day. No carp to hand, only a few hooked, and 3 flies left in fish. I'll be back for that big girl.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Kim's picture of my koi from this morning turned out well. Check out Elia in the background...she is getting awfully heavy to carry around while fighting a fish!

This koi as orange on the bottom of his body, and black for most of his body. He was kind of a neat looking fish. I made a bad cast to him and put the fly about 1 foot past him. I made to quick strips to pull the fly even with his head and then let it sink. When it got to eye level he just turned his head and sucked the fly into his mouth. It was a great take!

Elia and I got out carping this morning for a few hours. We showed up at the pond and this crazy guy was already there fishing it! Kim is a friend of mine, and yesterday he caught his first carp on the fly, so he was back at it this morning looking for number 2! Most of the fish were spawning, so while we saw a ton of fish, they were not really interested in eating. Eventually I found some feeding fish, and caught two right away. I moved back around the pond to join Kim and he picked up this nice 5 lb fish on a hares ear. Carp number two for Kim! I ended up catching two more, one a tiny little common, the second a beautiful 5lb black and orange koi. Kim took a picture of the koi for me, and I'll post it when I have it.

Elia had a great time as usual, laughing at the ducks and trying to jump in the pond whenever I would net a fish. Good to see Kim out there this morning, and tomorrow Kim, myself and DRBFISH are heading to Sauvie's Island for some carp action. Should be a good day if the weather is nice!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

It's not every day that a guy sets out to catch a 20 some pound orange koi on a fly wasn't today either. I woke up this morning happy to know that I had an entire day planned at one of my favorite carp lakes. Of course, plans don't always hold up, and today mine didn't. I arrived at the lake and while the sun was out and the wind calm, the water level was so high that I just couldn't see the fish. They were there, but hard to target, and even harder to reach due to the depth of the water. After nearly swamping my waders a few times I managed to hook a couple of fish, and landed one of them, a nice carp of about 15 lbs. It was fish like this that I had come for, but the tough conditions quickly chased me home.

After some debate, I decided to go look for Highway Cone. I hadn't gotten serious about throwing flies at him in a while, and had been hammering his buddies, so at the least I figured I would chase him around, and then try to catch some of his friends. Armed with a fly I tied up just for Highway Cone, I zipped back to Portland.

As soon as I got there I spotted my adversary...that doesn't say much as he is pretty hard to miss! I stalked along the bank about 3o feet behind him, hoping he would turn and head towards me. I had learned long ago to forget about casting to him from behind. The fly line traveling over his head would immediately spook him. Eventually he worked his way into a little bay, with me not far behind. I set up shop and took a moment to put on the special fly I had tied...I had seen Highway Cone in this bay a few times, and I knew he would circle back toward me, hopefully on the feed.

Twenty minutes later, he did just that. I stood in a semi-crouch hidden by some bushes as he worked slowly towards me, and for the first time, he really seemed to be actively eating. Unfortunately, he seemed to be actively eating the algae blooms in the water...something I didn't think I could imitate at that moment. I prepared to cast anyway, and when he got about 15 feet out I flipped the fly into his path. As usual, he moved right past it. I tried a second, then third cast with the same result. By this time he was only a few feet away from me, and was beginning to turn with the bay's contours and start back on his circuit. I made one final cast and managed to put the fly about 10 inches in front and 2-3 inches to his left. Highway Cone eased forward, then slowly, his huge head turned in the general direction of my fly.

His gills puffed out.

I lifted the rod.

Water flew everywhere.

Line exploded off of my reel.

I was hooked up! In shock I watched as the fly line sped through the guides and the big fish made a wake as he blasted out of the shallow bay. Highway Cone made short work of my trusty Plueger and 6 wt St. Croix...thank God I brought the 6 wt today!

After a long run I settled in to what would be a tough battle. This was a big fish, and while I finally had a fighting butt to use, I was still fishing 4x tippet. I brought him back to me one time only to have him blast into my backing again. Slowly but surely I brought him back to the bay, but as soon as his belly touched bottom, he headed into my backing for the third time. The third time would be it though. I kept up the pressure, and eventually had him headed in toward shore, clearly exhausted.

At this point I had a problem. There was NO WAY Highway Cone was going to fit into my net. It was not even close. I frantically looked around for a 12 year old kid in dirty shorts, or a 50 year old chinese guy...the two saviors from the last two big fish I had taken. No one was in sight.

I steered Highway Cone into the shallows, and prepared my next move. Bending down, I dropped my tiny little net over his head like it was a burlap sack, dropped my 6 wt to the ground and grabbed for his tail as quickly as I could! Got him! In this awkward position I managed to lift this behemoth up and brought him to the bank. I removed the fly, firmly planted in the huge fish's top lip, and reached for my camera. With no one around I did the best I could in snapping a few pictures of this fish I have chased for 6 months, then picked him up and set him back in the shallow water.

In no time Highway Cone flipped his tail and headed for deep water. I walked up the bank a bit and sat down...soaking it in. As I stood up to collect my flyrod and net I looked out into the lake, and there he was, cruising along about 40 ft away. Slowly he slipped out deeper, and then disappeared.

Highway Cone is still out there, but I bet I have to come up with another fly.

Tough day at one of my favorite lakes. The water levels are still too high, and the fish were just too deep. I did manage one nice fish of about 15 lbs. He made a couple of great runs, reminding me why I like to fish this lake so much!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I struggle to take good pictures of flies, but here are a few of the rubber legged hare's ear I have been using. This one is tied in olive, but I tie them in a variety of colors. My favorite colors are olive, tan, and rust. I like the white legs because I can see the fly easier, making strike detections much simpler.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

If any of you out there live around Portland, you know how beautiful the weather was today. After a rough couple of weeks in the office, I just couldn't pass the chance to leave early and chase some carp. This lake is fast becoming my go to spot. It is close to the house, and has some really nice size fish in it...and of course there is Highway Cone. Someday I'll get that monster. Today was good...hooked 3 fish, only landed the one but it was another pig of a carp, that pushed 20 lbs easily. This fish was as big around as a volleyball.

As always, the takes are the most memorable parts of carp fishing (though one fish went into my backing not once, but twice! On his second run down the bank he got so much line out it got all tangled in the bankside vegetation, and he got loose. So it goes...) Today this big boy took the fly perfectly. I dropped it about 1 foot ahead of him, he mosied up and tipped down. I never saw the mouth open, but what a moment when you know he took it, and gently apply the pressure to set the hook in solid. Great fish, and once again I had help (this time from an older gentleman) with the net and camera.

All three fish were hooked on a size 14 rubber legged hare's ear. One took the fly with him, but I have more, and will mass produce these babies! Highway Cone made his usual appearance, but at this point, he just laughs at my feeble attempts and sad looking flies. I've got a plan for him now though...

What a splendid day.

One other item of note...I have GOT to get that 4 wt out of the car. That thing is going to be carp kindling any day now.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Just got this picture from Justin. Love the look of this spot. I can just picture bass, panfish, northerns, and carp cruising in and out of the weeds...nice.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Elia at Home Depot relaxing after her first haircut.

I"m still excited about this monster carp. Here is another shot of it's huge mouth!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

In all the excitement of landing the 20 lber, I neglected to mention that I had an all too brief hookup with Highway Cone Koi. This fish is approximately the same size as the one i landed today (they were swimming together for a while). I hooked him on a size 12 rubber legged hare's ear about an hour after landing the big boy. He ripped off about 60 ft of fly line and just came unpinned. Tippet and hook were intact, I think the fly just pulled. Normally I would have been crushed, but where is the fun in reaching both goals in one day?

A moderate angler armed with a wispy 4 wt fly rod and 4X tippet should never win the battle with a 20 lb carp, but today the stars aligned and I met goal #1 for the year! With the cloudy weather I cancelled a planned trip into the gorge to my favorite carp lake, but I couldn't resist an hour or two out at a local lake I like to fish, just to look for carp. I got there about 1pm and walked around the lake with my eyes peeled. I spotted some fish, but without the sun the fish were there and gone in an instant. Still, enough activity to keep me excited, and I was getting a few chances to throw the fly at some nice sized carp. After 30 minutes or so I spotted the Highway Cone Koi and raced down the bank to get ahead of him. I knelt down in the mud and prepared my size 12 rubber legged hare's ear. As Highway Cone neared I noticed that a few feet behind him came a carp of similar size. I waited until the two fish were nearly upon me and gently flipped the fly into action. Highway Cone ignored my offering with his usual disdain, but I left the fly in the water. When the second fish was right above the fly I gave it a tiny twitch, and the big fish stopped. I almost didn't set the hook, but after about 2 seconds I realized that I hadn't seen either fish stop in their entire circuit down the bank, so I lifted the rod and immediately felt the weight of a heavy fish. The carp blasted out for deep water and I quickly palmed the Hardy Bougle as it screamed a shout of joy across the lake. The battle was long and with 4X tippet I carefully played give and take with the monster fish. After about 10 minutes I got the fish close to the bank and leaned down with my tiny little net. At this point, I realized I had a problem. I was pretty sure I could get the fish in the net, but only if I made the perfect stab, and with rod in hand and small tippet, I was in no position to make an error. I looked up in mild panic, knowing that this fish quite likely would meet or exceed my 20 lb goal. A kid and his friend of about 12 years were standing on the pathway above me, avidly watching me struggle with this monster fish.

"Want to give me a hand?" I yelled.

"Sure thing!" replied the kid enthusiastically. He sprinted down the bank and I prepared to hand my net and hopes of reaching my goal to this 12 year old in shorts and a dirty Tshirt.

After a quick and dirty lesson while I fought to keep the monster fish under control the kid declared himself ready. I angled the fish back to the bank, once, twice, three times and on the third time the kid reached down and went for it! With such a monster fish I had told him just to try to get the fish's head into the net, and the rest would (hopefully) follow. With practiced aplomb and complete disregard for his white sneakers he stepped closer to the edge and nailed that big carp in one swoop! The fish went crazy went it felt the net and its impending imprisonment and the kid nearly lost his cool as a 20 lb behemoth thrashed and flopped inches from him. For one second I expected him to drop the net and run in horror, but with ice in his veins he grimly held on. The thrashing ended with a cloud of mud, water and debris obscuring the net.

"I think I got him!" the kid yelled.

"Lift him up!" I encouraged and the kid did his best to comply, but the fish was simply too big! "Use both hands!" I nearly screamed at him and he quickly grabbed the rim of the net and lifted the beast out of water!

As soon as he got such a close view of what he had just captured his steely nerve nearly failed...I could see him breaking before my eyes. I dropped my precious 4 wt and the mud and leapt forward to take the net from his shaking hands.

I laid the monster on the bank and gently removed the fly. This was a BIG FISH. I lifted the net, and unscrewed the handle that holds the internal scale. With a loud clunk the scale bottomed out. This fish was nowhere near the 14lb maximum weight of this scale. I hefted it a few times, and while there is no way to be 100% sure, I declare my goal of a 20 lb carp on the fly official realized.

As proof I list a picture, taken by the sure (but slightly shaken) hands of a 12 year old. Without this kid I really don't think I would have landed this fish. The moral of the story, I need a MUCH bigger net!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Here is a nice fish my dad caught on Kipp lake recently, a little over six pounds. I didn't catch the name of his friend in the othe picture, but his fish was 6.5 lbs. Looks like a great day to me!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Just your typical day of carp fishing. Knots were tested, hooks were broken, backing was exposed and stealth was needed! With the near perfect conditions today I just had to leave the office and spend a few hours at a couple of carp hot spots. This was really the first day in months where my expectation were high. Fortunately, the carp did not disappoint.

Almost immediately upon reaching the water I saw carp...tons of carp. They seemed to be everywhere in pods of 2-6 fish, mostly holding near the top of the water column soaking in the sun. The first hour proved an exercise in humility as the fish ignored, and spooked at most of my offerings. While the high sun helped immensely with the visibility, it also made the fish skittish, and even the shadow of a bird on the water was enough to send most fish bolting for deep water. After a fruitless hour that included one heartstopping change of direction from the infamous Highway Cone Koi (for a split second, I thought I had him) I headed to my second go to place. The fish were not quite as spooky there (probably because of all the dog walkers, mothers with strollers, and general every day foot traffic...heh heh) but they were also clearly enjoying the sun, and not much interested in eating. Eventually I spotted a nice "high and happy" fish about 15 feet out from shore. I put on a size 14 hares ear with a small bead as the only weight, and plopped it down just inches from the carp's nose. The lightly weighted fly did its job and sank at a tantalizing pace. The carp's fins moved ever so slightly, then it opened its mouth and sucked the fly in like a vacuum cleaner! I quickly lifted the rod and the fight was on!

After figuring out the trick with that first fish, I stalked around the pond ignoring all but the "high and happy" types. The numbers for the day, 8 hooked, 6 landed, 1 poor tippet knot, one broken hook, and 40 lbs of fish. Not bad for 3 hours.

You just gotta love carp fishing!