Sunday, September 07, 2008

When I stepped into the flat I realized that despite the air temperature, fall has definitely arrived on the Columbia River. For a second I considered heading back to the car to grab my waders, but the water wasn't really that cold, just noticeably colder from the last time I was here. I knew I was off to an early start (when your wife gives you the green light, you don't look at the clock, you just go) but I figured the water would warm up soon enough. I checked the hook on my Montana Carrot, and started down the flat.

Two hours later, I had seen 3 fish. That is 3 as in one (tailer, I blew the cast); two (almost stepped on him, thought it was a rock); and three (40 foot cast a big tail, no hookup). The last two times I had walked this flat I had seen literally hundreds of carp, but today there were virtually none to be found. I think the cool water pushed them out of there, but I didn't wait around any longer for the water to warm up...instead, I jumped in the FJ and headed to another area.

My second stop proved to be a better choice, or maybe the sun had cooked its water a bit longer. Either way, I had some fish around me but once again, not in the numbers to which I am accustomed in this locale either. I managed to catch a couple of fish on the venerable SJW, but nothing to write home about. I packed up shop on this flat in a hurry as well, and decided if I was going to deal with mediocre fishing, I might as well explore a bit. I checked out some nearby water that was a mix of sand/gravel bottom. I thought maybe the sand would be a bit warmer, and it was. The third stop ended up being a good decision, as there were a pretty good number of fish around, and most of them were tailing. I had killed most of my day, but I got down to business and started putting some fish in the net. I had tied on the Montana Carrot and stuck with that was getting great reactions from these carp. The Montana Carrot is basically Mr. P's Carp Carrot, tied in a more muted color, and I added a split rubber tail for action. It isn't orange at all, but the body shape was shamelessly stolen from Mr. P, hence the name.

It's a fun fly to fish. I would chuck it at a tailer, and if they saw it sink they'd almost immediately stop tailing and dart forward. The trick was that they wouldn't always eat it on that dart. Sometimes they'd kind of rush the fly and stop. I'd strip a few inches of line and they'd dart forward again. Sometimes they would pursue the fly, mouth's opening and closing as they gave chase. I was having a heck of a time deciding when to set the hook...I just couldn't tell when they had the fly! I actually caught two fish by "feel" which is something that rarely happens. I would be stripping the fly in while they chased it, and twice I felt resistance. The second time it turned out to be this pig of fish. I figure high teens...MAYBE 20 but my digital scale took a crapper on me and wouldn't work. That's what you get for $15 I guess.

It turned out, I was putting together a pretty solid day. Then a typical 10-11 lb carp decided to fight back. He made a run deep into my backing, but I put the brakes on him and hauled him all the way to net range. As I started to unclip the net at my belt that bugger took off again and POW! Snapped my 7 wt Albright in two. The reel was still screaming as the fish seemed determined to head for the backing a second time. Luckily, the tip section was still pretty close by, so I darted forward and grabbed it. At that point, I just aimed the broken rod at the fish and broke him off. This marks the 3rd time I've broken this Albright. Bottom line...this rod is just not cut out for carp fishing. I'm beginning to wonder if any fly rods are? To date I've broken (all on fish mind you): Albright EXS (3 times), St Croix Legend Ultra (once); Reddington Wayfarer (once...sorry wendy berrell); and St Croix Avid 8 wt (once). I've broken 6 rods on carp. I'm not sure what I'll do with that Albright now. They charge $60 to repair it, and I don't plan on putting another carp on the end of that thing. Plus, my 6 wt was custom built, and st croix sent a middle seciont 2 inches shorter than the original! So now I'm down to just my 8 wt for the remainder of this year (coho season is around the corner). It looks like I'll be building/buying some rods this winter.
The sad truth is having only one rod probably won't matter. I could feel the season ending as I stalked the flats today. There were fish around, but not in the usual numbers or usual places. I think we have a few weeks left before the bulk of the fish vacate the flats. Most likely, this was my last carp trip until the spring. We'll see what happens with the weather.


Unknown said...

always a sad day to see the end of the season near. I had a similar rough time today; colder water had moved fish out from their summer haunts. Looks like you had better luck than I though. You could a nice chunk to end the season.

Get ready to tie up some clam flies this winter. I field tested one today and it worked!

Wendy Berrell said...

Nice job working through options to find fish. I can't believe that the season is winding down already... I was waiting for so long for it to start.

You should have fought that fish with the busted rod!

If it is the end for you out there, you'll be closing the book on a season of epic accomplishment. So you can kick back for some tying and rod building... and rest easy.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I haven't commented on any thing on your blog before, (which is excellent to read by the way), but I felt compelled to ask what you ended up doing with the broken albright? I've been looking for a 7 or 8 wt. rod for a while, but I have no money for one, and If you want, I will take it off your hands, broken and all. I would be willing to pay you for it, and for shipping.... Let me know if you are interested at

thanks for the great read, and keep on carping.....

Deadhead Dave