Sunday, September 17, 2006

I learned something today in a short carp session. There is a large difference between trying to be stealthy, and being stealthy. The trouble is, only the carp seem to know the difference.

I found myself fishing mostly on my hands and knees this afternoon. The fish (and these were big boys) were feeding against the bank, and the only way to get a fly to them without putting line across their backs was to belly crawl up to them and careful get on one knee in the brush and dropped the fly in like food from heaven. This worked exactly 4 times, and while it was thrilling to hook fish with all my flyline still inside my guides, I didn't land a single fish. At first I was merely crouching to approach them, and invariably I would spook the intended target and promptly watch 6-8 other carp forms (that I hadn't even noticed) blast from the shallows in a general stampede. The delayed reaction was the best part. The first fish would spook and blast through the pod and as a group the remaining fish would startle, and then bolt for deep water. Pretty fun to watch, but it would have been better had I landed something!

The first fish I hooked was sheer fortune. I had just spooked a pod by apparently failing to be at or below sea level as I moved, and was sitting on the bank looking through my flies for several minutes, searching for a pattern they hadn't seen before. After a few minutes and the realization that I hadn't tied flies in a LONG TIME I noticed a nice fish moving in from the depths. Actually a big fish. As it got closer I realized two things. One, it was going to stop and feed against the bank, not 3 ft from me. And two, it was a big mirror. This fish was easily in the mid teens, and would be the biggest mirror I've caught by at least 5 or 6 lbs. I pried myself away from thoughts of big mirror carp and great photos for the blog and and gently flipped a little crayfish pattern into the path of the oncoming mirror. The big fish paused when it reached the fly, I popped the rod tip and saw his head dip down and I set the hook quickly. The fly line ripped through my guides in starts and stops and I prayed the tippet would hold. It did momentarily, and I got to my feet to begin playing the fish. I had no control over the big mirror and he zig and zagged through patches of dead and dying weeds, and in short order had a massive amount of salad attached to the flyling and leader. The drag of all those weeds proved too much and the tippet parted. I had so much junk on the line I didn't realize the fish was gone for several seconds.

I quickly sat down and rerigged with heavier tippet (back to 1X!) and then continued down the bank, pretty much spending the entire time on my belly. Fish #2 was feeding tight to the bank, and he took my crayfish pattern (the green one) with such confidence that I almost felt bad...almost. I jumped to my feet with renewed energy, knowing my 1X tippet would do the job this time. It did, but the hook didn't The fish quickly got off and I reeled in a completely straightened crayfish pattern.

On to fish #3, again with the green crayfish pattern, same size and hook equaling predictable results. I hooked the 3rd fish easily enough, and he straightened that hook easily enough as well.
I do learn, although slowly. I went up a size on the crayfish pattern, tied on a size 8 salmon hook this time, and began hunting for fish #4. As active as the fish were, it didn't take long to find him. Once again on my belly I got within a rod length of the fish, another good one (none of the fish I cast at were less than 10-12 lbs, with the big mirror being the largest). I dropped the crayfish fly just out of range, and hopped it toward him. He turned his head slightly and inhaled the fly from about 8 inches out. As soon as I set the hook the fish blasted out of the bay and into deeper water, and quickly began boring into every weedbed he could find. I held him as tight as I could but the powerful fish kept ripping the line from my fingers and gaining distance. Soon enough he was buried in weeds, and somehow managed to slip the barbless hook. So ended the dance with fish #4.

I spent a few more minutes looking around, but I was pretty satisfied and thinking about Elia at home waking up from her nap and ready to have some fun. I broke down the rod and headed for the car. It was a good day.

5 comments:

MN Justin said...

Very nice...

Something going on with the hooks you are using.

john montana said...

yeah...they suck. it is that batch i got from my dad. only problem is i have about 10,000 of them.

i think they would be fine for most fish, but carp are too strong.

Anonymous said...

Hey Joe . . . What crayfish patterns do you use? I have been looking around for a good cray pattern that's fast and easy to tie, but none of them really seem to be. Really love to use crayfish patterns though. Landed some pretty meaty fish.

Thanks.
Marc

john montana said...

it is more of a general pattern than direct crayfish pattern, but i do believe the fish take it as a crayfish. that is one in the picture. for a better close up of a green one check out the archives for july. it looks like a crayfish, damselfly, general bug. seems to work well...

MN Justin said...

The only downer re the crayfish pattern is that it is harder to cast accurately when compared to a fly without DB eyes - like a girdle bug. They do absolutely love that pattern though... I may try some of my leftover hi-tail craw patterns for carp. You should see how those flies sit in the water - JUST like a crawdaddy.