Sunday, December 02, 2007

I've been meaning to put up a link to a site my friend Matt Klara writes for called Sexy Loops. I just added them to the sidebar today. It has been pretty tough to spend much time on the blog lately. I'm also in the middle of a pretty serious carp fishing withdrawal. I spent most of today so far daydreaming of miles of shallow water and tails waving like flags. You can blame Matt for a lot of that as just the thought of using his latest creation this spring is driving me crazy. Here is why:

While this fly hasn't been tested, I'm fairly certain I already know the only acceptable response from the clam chowing Columbia river Carp. For tying details check out Matt's page:

The Clam Before the Storm

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Massive delay in my posts of late, due to many factors. The kids and work distractions have grown as nearly the same pace over the last couple of months, but adding the seasonal factors in has severely limited my computer time. Not entirely a bad thing, but most of my computer time has been replaced with "college basketball" time. I don't think my wife is too fond of that.

Gonzaga had their first loss agains the legendary Bobby Knight the other day, but they look solid this year. That team oozes potential, we'll see if it all comes together. After having at tough time watching Duke last year (McRoberts, not fun to watch) I am loving them this year. Completely different team.

Next up for Duke...Bo Ryan and Wisconsin at 6pm tonight. Should be a good game.

The Zags get St. Josephs, a true road game in a cracker box gym on Thursday. That one has me nervous. Plus, that game is followed by a game agains Calhoun and UConvicts...ugh...

Gotta love this time of year!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I just had the pleasure of fishing the Deschutes with Coleman and David, so expect a report sometime when I have a chance to spend more than 5 minutes at the computer. Right now, I'm missing Montana a bit, looking through some old pictures with Elia on my lap. There really is no place like Montana. I was fortunate to grow up there and while I've grown to enjoy living in Oregon, Montana will always be home for me.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I got home from work today and Elia was all excited to open a package that had arrived in the mail. It turns out that I won the Carp Anglers Group Big Fish Award for the 2007 Fly Fishing Category. The fish in question was caught on the Columbia river last fall (just made the deadline) and was landed after quite a battle thanks to some help from KB. Pretty neat looking award, it will look great in my office! The other award winners are listed here:

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The reality is that sometimes, the anticipation of a trip, is actually better than the trip. On first glance, that held true today. Fishing was tough. It hasn't rained in days and the river was low, clear and the fish were skittish and shy. They held in the deep holes and avoided the fast water where they are most susceptible to flies. I had two good chances at fish, and brought one of them to hand.

After two days of tying flies and dreaming of boulders, slots, and yes...coho, it almost seemed like a let down. I stood all day fishing hard, concentrating and focussing on the deepest pockets I could find in the faster water. The bottom line...we needed rain. The river felt stagnant, dead. It was clearly dying for a drink, and just a little rain would perk things up. I waited...all day it threatened. Thunder rumbled in the distance, the skys grew dark but then the sun would peek through and chase away the dreams of rain. I kept at it and began to enjoy the challeng brought by the skimpy water and fell in love with the color of the river. It was a tea green color that allowed you to see clearly to the bottom in pockets as the current broke and swirled around a boulder. Windows appeared and dissappeared quickly, forcing you to keep you eyes moving to enjoy those glimpses of the bottom, straining to see a flash of silver as a fish moved upriver. If I were strictly a meat hunter, I might not have enjoyed today at all, but as it was I found moments of joy in the midst of what was an undeniable difficult day of catching fish. I managed to bring one fish home and as I walked back to the car, the rain came. In moments the rain was crashing through the branches and I was treated to the symphony of the wind howling through the tree tops and the steady bass of the falling raindrops on the forest canopy. Bolstered by the wet walk back to my car, I drove home with the stereo blasting, and a smile on my face.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Yep, it is most definately time. The weather has turned, the water has cooled and the rain has come. For a carp fisherman, these are all generally considered bad things, but here in Oregon these things also indicate the arrival of my second favorite target...coho salmon! This year I decided to keep a few fish for the table and play the role of hunter/gatherer. What better way to start off the search than to meet up with the godfather of coho himself, PTS and a loyal carping buddy David. The three of us fished yesterday in the cool weather and at times the sun baked down (for mere moments, granted) and at other times the rain pounded us so hard we had to hang our heads to avoid being blinded by the sheer volume of liquid in the air. Let me tell you, catching fish, hooking fish...all of that pailed in comparison to the sheer joy of the pounding rain. If you waded out deep enough during the deluge, it was raining in both directions. The constant barrage had a visible and immediate impact on the river, which clouded up in an instant. You could see it happen as leaves began floating by and the tops of your boots and rocks quickly dissapeared. Fortunately, the coho saw it happen too and following the first heavy blast of rain, they started moving. Fish began rolling in the rapids below us and in no time people were hooked up all over the river. I was slot fishing the pockets. I learned to fish this way on the small streams of Minnesota and Montana and the techniques and tricks translate themselves well from the freestone brook trout streams and limestone creeks filled with beautiful brown trout. In some pocket, drifts are short and sweet, lots of lead is required to get that fly down the moment it hits the water and a 4 or 5 second drift is an eternity. I fished well yesterday; the 6th sense was working, my mind seemed clearer than my rain blurred vision but nary a strike went by without the proper response and subsequent rush of a throbbing salmon in fast water. Carping hadn't dulled my nymphing skills, but the river was something I just wasn't prepared for. I could hook them, but they tore me up in that current and messy knot of boulders and seams. I chased fish up and down the river, banged my shins, fell in the water and ran into tree branches, but none of that helped me bring more fish to shore. At the end of the afternoon not one, but both of my simms wading boots were split at the soles from frantic scrambling over the rocks. I walked the trail to the car wearing $100 flip flops that flung mud up my back with each sucking step. What a glorious day of fishing.

All three of us hooked into fish, and David's intro into the only fish that can even make me consider skipping a carp trip went well. He didn't put one on the bank, but he hooked up twice and as he said on the walk out..."I felt the power." That pretty well covered David's day. The godfather, he got into fish, but Phil always does. He planted himself in the river like he was rooted in place and each fish that found itself attached to his 14 ft spey rod was winched up to be admired, and in two cases brought home. PTS uses that big rod and hauls the fish to him, no silly single handed rods and slippery pursuits through the boulders and rapids for Phil. Me, I like the chase and don't mind losing those fish. I can raise the white flag when I know I'm beat, but the Montanan in me is ready for more moments after calling it a day. I'll give a nod to the fish, but that one battle doesn't end the war. So with that in mind...this report is to be continued...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Just flipping through some old pictures and spotted this one. It makes me miss trout fishing and the Metolius, though I was actually sight fishing big copper johns to a few bull trout. My serious carping is probably done until spring, though I might chase a few local carp on nice days. Next up for me (this week probably) will be coho salmon. Nothing wrong with that!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Been a busy week since the Bartlett family reunion on the coast. Darby and I are both sick, and month end at the office is always crazy! Kelly and I just bought a new computer today too, an Imac...I like it so far, but it will take some getting used to. Here are a few pics Kelly took of me attempting to catch some surf perch. I had no clue what I was doing, but it was fun just standing out there. We had big surf every day, so the conditions were bad but anytime with a flyrod in hand is okay by me.

Monday, September 24, 2007

We all had a great time at the Bartlett family reunion last week. Pics and stories to come, but for now here is one of JJ flying his first kite. He got a kick out of the kite.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

One of the great things about carp fishing is that it just doesn't take much to turn a rough day, into a successful day. Halfway through my outing today I was convinced that the last few successful trips had eaten up all of my good karma. I just couldn't get anything going. It took me until noon to even find fish, and once I found them, I had no chance of getting them to eat anything! I blew casts by putting the fly too far away, then blew casts by hitting the fish on the head. Once I finally started placing the fly where I needed it, I couldn't stop pulling the fly away from the fish! I do have to admit that carp are pretty funny when they just lost a meal. The second you set the hook to soon the carp goes into a little mini frenzy, swimming in circles, darting from side to side. You can just about hear them yelling "I was going to eat that!" After taking the fly from a few fish, and then leaving it much too long (and seeing that cursed eat/spook moment) I began to put it together. I think it started when I went to the San Juan, but not one of the new ones I tied last night. I should have figured that new flies tied intentionally for a trip NEVER work. The second I put on an old beat up worm loaded with good mojo, things flowed much better. I ended up hooking about 10 fish, but I lost most of them to the big weedbed about 80 feet off of the flat. Most guys would think 80 feet is plenty of room to stop a fish...most guys don't fish for carp. I brought 5 to hand, on a variety of flies, but the worm was center stage (and it looks even more disheveled...might have to retire that one to my hat.) The biggest fish was about 13 lbs, smallest was 6 lbs...I'll take that spread any day, though I did hook one much bigger fish (my first lesson in the location of that weedbed.) All in all a good day, and I made it home in time to put the kids to bed. Nice.

Two more things to note. First, the water was LOADED with these freshwater clams:

If anyone out there has a pattern, let me know. I'm betting all of the crushed shells were pretty a pretty good indicator of what the carp were chowing. Also, I found this stringer full of 10 dead sturgeon (and one salmon). What a waste. One of the sturgeon was at least 5 feet long. I called it in, but I'm not sure what good that will do.

Monday, September 03, 2007

I snuck out this afternoon for a little exploring. I've been meaning to check a few flats near Portland, so rather than hit a spot I knew I'd see fish, I took a gamble. It didn't pay off today. I did find some nice looking flats, but the water is so low right now, that the shallows were high and dry. The fish were pushed out deep, and I didn't see a single fish. My expectations were low, but I would have liked to have found some fish. Still, it was fun to get out and see some new spots, and I really did feel like an urban carper today.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I got back to my carping roots today. I had an hour to fish with JJ along for the ride in the backpack. We hit our go to local pond and managed four carp. A pretty good outing, though the biggest fish was only 7 lbs. This is distinctly different carp fishing that what I have been doing the last few weeks. These small ponds don't require long casts and tons of backing, but they do up the need for stealth. I put the sneak on all 4 fish, hooking three of them with no fly line out my guides, just 5 or 6 feet of leader. My normal technique on tiny water is to sneak within a rod length of the fish dangle about 3-4 ft of leader out the top of the rod and literally set the fly next to a feeding fish. If you can get on top of them without spooking them, it is deadly. The best part about today? Every time I hooked a carp JJ would just bust out laughing. Good stuff...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

What a great weekend with my parents and Elia. We stayed in their new RV and dad and I did some carp fishing, while my mom entertained Elia. My daughter was a trooper on the drive to and from the RV. She read books the entire way and she loved hanging out in the trailer. Elia really enjoyed herself this weekend, and is sleeping soundly right now!

The carp fishing was great. It was really windy both days, but that just pushed the fish to the shore. I landed over 20 fish Saturday, and another 10 or so this morning. My dad caught fish both days, but not quite in the same numbers. I spent some time farther downriver than he felt like walking, and was rewarded with some great carping situations. Big fish for the trip was 18-20 absolute pig I landed with a san juan worm on a 40 ft cast. I got the fly close, the fish tipped up and when I lifted the rod the fight was on! I saw my backing so many times that it now has a tan line. A truly special weekend fishing with my dad and watching my daughter play with both of my parents. Here are a few pictures.

This was a double the "old fashioned" way. My dad hooked the fish on the left and while he was fighting it I spotted the fish on the right. His fish weighed about 7 lbs, mine was just under 12. I nearly had a very unique double Saturday. I hooked a great fish on a long cast with crayfish. I fought the fish in and he bottomed out my 14 lb scale (probably about 16 lbs). I removed the fly and turned to walk to shore to get a picture when I spotted another big fish just 20 feet away! I clipped the net with the big fish still hanging half out of it to my belt and started casting at the fish nearby in the shallows. My plan was to hook and beach that second fish and take a picture of a single double! Of course, I blew a cast and spooked the one still in the water, and when I reached for my net, the big boy had slipped loose. So it goes...plenty of targets in the water this weekend!

All along the bank you could spot nice tailing fish like this one.

And if you could find waves breaking over a gravel bar, the carp were stacked up feeding on the lee side. I'm still surprised I took the time to snap this picture before casting into that feeding frenzy.

A nice 12 lb fish from this morning. We hooked some big fish this weekend.

My dad with a nice carp. He took to carping with no problem...he was spotting, casting and hooking fish all week long.

This one didn't quite bottom out my scale!

My dad working a flat. The wind was a blessing and a curse. Today was a bit windier than I would have liked, but we still managed to catch some fish.

The worm was deadly all weekend.

Great weekend! I'll get some pictures of Elia and the grandparents up tomorrow. We all had a great time!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A few more pics from this weekend. I landed 2 fish friday, KB got another two but my client Chris couldn't get a solid hookup. He has some nice takes and near misses and overall, I think he enjoyed carp fishing. Chris and I will get back out together soon I hope.

Saturday was a good day for fish numbers, and we only fished until about 2-230. I landed 10 or 12, with KB and my dad both landing 4 or 5 fish each. The average size was 8 1/2 to 9 lbs and the big fish of the day was a 12 lber.

My dad had a few shots at some bigger fish, a really nice fish in the mid to high teens range, and a beautiful mirror carp that was only about 10 feet away, and had to be in the low teens. He just couldn't get a take though. We did see a few fish that might have gone 20 lbs, but they spooked before we got clean shots at them.

Great weekend of carp fishing with good friends and family!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I fished with my dad early this spring for trout on Duck Lake back in MT. His health was not good. After a walk of a few hundred feet he need to stop and catch his breath. My dad has congestive heart failure, and it was just difficult for his heart to get oxygen to the rest of his body. He didn't let it get him down and steadfastly fished most of the day, taking frequent breaks to relax and catch his breath. A few weeks later they put a pacermaker in to regulate his heart and improve his circulation. My dad claims he is now the bionic man, and feels better than he has in years. The doctors finally cleared him to do some phyiscal excercise, so he headed out here to chase some carp, telling me he had it "all figured out." I though this was particularly funny since the only carp I've ever seen him catch were all snagged in the dorsal fin!

KB joined us for the day and we hit one of our favorite flats. The fishing was good, the company better but the best part was the fact that my dad could get out and enjoy himself. He only need one rest during the day, and spotted fish and snuck up on them like a seasoned carp pro! The first fish we got a really good shot as was the perfect situation. A nice carp was tailing in 3 feet of water about 20 feet away. I pointed him out to dad who was already stripping line from his reel. The cast was true, dropping the fly about 1 ft from the feeding fish. The carp slowly lifted his head, eased forward and dropped his mouth to the bottom once again.

"He's on it!" I said just as my dad lifted the rod tight and the carp exploded out of the shallows. I took one look at my dad's face and let out a loud whoop. KB came running to take some pictures and we both watched as the fly line flew from the reel in seconds. My dad reached for the reel to slow the escaping fish, only to pull his hand back and yelling "ouch!" as the carp wrapped his knuckled hard with the handle. Dad tried another tactic and jammed his fingers into the spool, putting pressure on the rapidly dissapearing backing..."ouch!" he yelled again as the backing burnt his fingers. Eventually the carp slowed and dad fought him back to us. The fish made a second run into the backing, but with much less enthusiasm and on his return Dad was able to lift the head to the surface and I got the net on him.

We caught more fish today, with some great takes each. None of us went home without seeing our backing multiple times, and like my dad, I went home with burnt fingers (like father, like son I suppose.) I could have been skunked today and still drove home with a smile after watching my dad hook that first fish. It was simply a perfect moment, and thankfully, we have many more to come.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The San Juan Worms are lined up in my flybox like a little army, flanked on both ends by a batch of carp wooley's and a handful of peacock hacklebacks. I'm off tomorrow to fish with a client, and then meeting my dad for some time on the carp flats Saturday.

Those worms are just itching to be thrown into the fray...I can tell. Hopefully some pictures and a report will follow!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

JJ and I were driving back from a short and unsuccesful carp outing when we spotted this crazy car on the freeway. I pulled up alongside and I'm pretty sure it was Darius Miles in the driver's seat. JJ sure liked this car!

Friday, August 03, 2007

I know that posts have been few and far between this summer, but we have had a lot going on that simply hasn't involved much carp fishing. I'll get one of the kids out soon. Here is the latest video of JJ, he decided now was a good time to start walking. I think we are trouble.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sunday I had the pleasure of fishing with Scott T for carp. It had been a while since I fished with Scott, and just catching up over breakfast and having some time on the water made the day worthwhile. Conditions were far from ideal. The wind was moving pretty good, and the high, white clouds cut visibility from feet, to inches. If the fish was more than a rod length away, we couldn't see it. Scott had some near hookups and I caught one while he was there, but he had to leave around 1 or so. As is usually the case, once your fishing partner leaves, the fishing picks up!
That wasn't actually what happened this time, but I did start moving around more, and I found some fish feeding on the edges of the shoreline. In super stealth mode I could get close enough to see them and managed to get into some fish. For the day I landed about 12, with the big fish being about 15 just bottomed out my weigh net. The interesting part of the day was that it was a tale of two flies, fished in different manners.

For most of the day, and most of the fish I hooked the go to fly was the San Juan Worm. I've never been a huge fan of the worm fly, but my last couple of times out I've started to see its merits! The fish do like the fly, but you have to fish it just a little differently than most nymphs or other carp flies. First, you have to be really accurate with your casts. With the worm, the fish needs to see the fly sink within that 1 foot or so cone of vision. If they see it sink and hit bottom, you are in business. Secondly, you can't move the fly. With most flies I fish if I overcast I just pull the fly into position along the bottom with short strips or hand twists. With the worm, the fish have got to come to the fly. You cast it right near their head, let it sink and let it sit. If the fish saw it fall, they'll eventually ease up and eat the fly. If you move it, the fish spooks. I saw this many times a few weeks ago, and again yesterday. When I just let the fly sit it was extremely effective coupled with an accurate cast.

The second part of my day was spent chasing fish that were hanging around the mulberry trees. These fish are without a doubt, the easiest carp I've ever caught, but catching them is a complete reversal from fishing the worm. For starters, they are all serious about eating. You can see them cruising in slow circles just downwind of the trees. They look like packs of bikers circling around a group of kids in a bad movie. Every time a berry falls in the water, one or two fish rush the berry like it will spoil when wet and the first fish to the berry chomps it down with an attitude. For these situations, the carp wooley has produced. I tie mine heavily weighted as it is a fly I often use on the flats as a general nymph imitation. The weight isn't a problem, though most of the berries float for quite a while. The fish near those trees seem to be so keyed on berries, that they charge any plop they hear, and eat just about anything that resembles a berry. I have had a few fish turn completely around and change direction to chase down a fly. It makes for some exciting, and relatively simple carp fishing.

All in all, it was a great day on the water, as any day with a fly rod in hand usually is. I enjoyed spending time with Scott, we really need to get out and fish more often. One lesson I took away from Sunday's outing was to pay really close attention to your presentation. With carp, it isn't enough for them to see the fly. They have to see it in the manner in which they expect to see it. In other words...they expect to see a crayfish run or act defensive...they expect to see a leech swim...they expect a berry to plop into the water like it fell from several feet above...and they expect to see a worm sitting in the bottom sediment, easy pickings for a meal. The next time I'm out I'm going to pay much more attention to the specifics of the presentation, rather than simply focusing on the accuracy of my cast and stealth of my approach. I think the details can make the difference between a skunking, and a some burnt fingers from palming your spool.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

My lovely wife sent me out today, not specifically to fish but to take Panga out for a few hours to get some exercise. Of course she knows full well that to do so involved me carrying a fly rod and looking for something to catch. I was torn all day yesterday. Part of me was itching to grab the 4 wt cane rod and head up into the upper reaches of the Clackamas and catch a billion tiny trout on dry flies. The thing is, trout are easy to catch. Especially small trout. I could put on a march brown pattern right now in July, fish it along the seams of that beautiful free stone stream and catch as many 7-11 inch fish at I could release. It sounded very appealing, but the real intention was to let Panga run, and the boulder strewn clackamas river, while beautiful, isn't the kind of ground where Panga can get up to speed. I hit Sauvie Island instead.

Well, I was reminded that Sauvie Island is one of the premier locations for carp around Portland. There are fish in literally every inch of water on that big island, and there is a ton of water from which to choose. I did have two problems though. One, the water I fished was all colored up and visibility was maybe an inch. Two, the sun hid for 2/3 of the time I was out. When the sun peeked out around 1200...I could finally see fish in catchable positions. During the morning, I saw mostly things like this:

While that is indeed a great sight if you are a carp fisherman, try catching one of those fish! I did everything including feeding them a fly directly into their open mouths, but they wouldn't look at an artificial. It was still a great moment watching those cloopers go nuts on vegetation and cotton. As the sun came out I ran into these three fellows.

Nice guys. This marks the first time I've actually run into bow fisherman. We chatted for a bit and I think they were pretty surprised to see me stalking the edges of the slough with a fly rod in hand. One fellow mentioned that he had shot carp in that area as "big as a fireplug." Interesting way to put it, and while I have yet to see a fish that big out there, I'd love to meet one! We went our separate ways and I finally started getting into some fish. The trouble was that I simply couldn't see the fish well enough to know when to set the hook. I was making great casts again with that fiberglass 7 wt fenwick (LOVE that rod) but I simply couldn't spot a take. Instead, I'd wait too long with my fly near a cloud, some bubbles, or a shadow and then feel a quick tap, tap that ended with me missing another carp. I finally did put it together and landed this one fish...a small guy, probably 5-6 lbs.

So with one fish in to hand, I called it a day. Panga was tired. She had run herself out and for the last 30 minutes I fished had dug herself a little hole and was just sitting there, watching me miss fish after fish. Smug little dog...