Friday, February 23, 2007

There is a certain, undeniable magic about nymphing. You cast out with little more than faith and wait for the moment to come together. When nymphing the way one should, you don't look at the tip of your flyline, you don't look at your indicator, you don't watch the water for flashes or study the point where you leader enters the river. You just fish. You might be focussed on the swirl of water that marks an unseen boulder on the river bottom, you might be listening to the quiet roar of the rapids just upriver, or you might be watching the grass on the other side of the river sway and bend in the wind. Yet every so often you lift your arm, and there is a fish on the end of the line. Sometimes you lift your arm and it is a rock, or a stick, or nothing at all, but sometimes its a fish. Magic. If nymphing was anything but magic...a skill or a trick or something you could learn, practice or teach than at the end of the day you could explain it. You could say to someone "Yep, I set the hook because the tip of my fly line was moving too slow against the current. I lifted my arm because I saw a shadow on the river bottom move. I tightened the line when the perfection loop broke the surface tension." Sometimes you can say these things, and usually mean them, but when done right...when really nymphing you are usually as shocked as the fish. Call it a hunch, but what it really is, is magic.
Is there anything in the world that moves slower than a Blue Winged Olive dry fly sitting on the calm surface of a large back eddy, just 4 or 5 feet from a trout? Up until this point, you've likely done everything right. You stood back from the edge of the road and peeked over the lip like you were playing hide and seek with your kids. You spotted the fish, a few inches to a foot deep and hovering in the slight current, motionless in its movements. You snuck down the rip rap well away from the fish and carefully approached from behind, keeping your profile low and moving slowly. The cast is a good one and you avoided false casting over the top of the fish. Then you watch. The tiny dry fly sits there. Meanwhile, your fly line is being sucked back to you, dangerously close to causing the size 18 BWO to skim across the surface like a water skier. You know the fish can see the fly. It moved up an inch, maybe two in the water column, and it waits. The fly continues to not move, and the fish hovers. After seconds, minutes, hours the fly and the fish are right on top of each other. You aren't sure what happened. You know the fly didn't move so much as an inch, and the fish has been in the same spot since you saw it from the road. Then the fish eats your fly.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I figure I have a few years, tops, before my daughter can out fish me. Then I'll know how my dad feels!
Elia was excited as we left the house this afternoon. Her 3 ft long "Dora the Explorer" fishing rod was in the back, along with a big strike indicator and some flies. At just over 2 years old, she is still too young to actually cast the rod, and since I don't own anything resembling bait I have to use the big strike indicator as weight so that I can cast that little rod more than a couple of feet. It turns out that today, I didn't really need it.
We made one circuit of the pond with no fish in sight. Elia was having a great time. She refused to let me carry her pole and insists on talking to every person we run into. Finally, in the back corner of the pond in some really shallow water I spotted a couple of carp moving lazily around. I snatched the "Dora" pole from Elia and snuck into her position with her clinging to my pant legs as we moved through the brush and trees together. We got right on top of one of the fish, and it was a simple flip of the rod to put the fly within a foot or two of the hungry carp. The fish mosied over the fly real casual like, but not quite casual enough. I knew he had the size 12 carp wooley and set the hook! The fish immediately tried to run for deeper water, but I had the drag on the "Dora" reel synched down tight. I quickly handed the pole to Elia and she hung on with two hands while the 3 or 4 lb carp flopped and splashed in the shallows. With only 4-5 feet of line out, and such shallow water the carp had no chance. Elia managed to reel a couple of cranks to bring some line in, but she basically held the rod up high and back up, dragging the carp onto a bed of leaves that marked the shoreline. She peered down at the fish with a huge smile on her face and rushed forward to pet the fish's tail. As soon as her little hands touched the fish it flapped around a bit, splashing Elia with water and causing her to jump back into the bushes! I reached down and took the fly out of the top lip.
"Should we let him go?" I asked her.
She got a real serious look on her face and said "Ummmm....Yeah."
I nudged the carp back into the water and scooped up Elia. At that point I'm not sure who had a bigger smile on their face...the carp for being let go, Elia for catching a fish, or her dad for watching the entire scene play out. Probably me...

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Elia's grandparent's were kind enough to buy her this nice little fishing pole while they were visiting last week. This morning I decided to take Elia to the coffee shop for "steamer coffe" and I figured that I would take her out in the afternoon to do a little scouting for carp. Elia spotted me putting her fishing pole in the back of the FJ, and she was so excited we had to go right then! We went to the only place that I figured had a prayer of containing active carp. I left the flyrod in the car and tied a size 10 hares ear on to the end of Elia's little pole. The orange bobber is actually a strike indicator I use when fishing for salmon. I have no bait or worms or anything, so I stuck with a fly only I took a page out of Justin's book and dipped the fly in vanilla extract before tying it on the line! KB showed up and the three of us wandered around and we did spot 3 active fish. I had a heck of a time getting the fly to them with the Dora pole, and couldn't get a take. Too bad, Elia really wanted to catch something.

After we got home Kelly was talking to her mom on speakerphone with Elia and I heard Elia say "no, I didn't catch any fishies."

A little warm weather, and we will at least see more carp. Won't be long now...