Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pit stop:

In the backing:

Believe it or not, my smile was bigger:

A little exploring:

One more to end the day...a "baby."

Just about the best day ever:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Three steps onto the flat, one cast and 15 seconds later this is what I could see. The first carp of the day just ripped the flyline off my reel and blasted into my backing. Safe to say the water has warmed up and the fish have some zip again!

It was a pretty auspicious start, and while the day was a great success, it did come in fits and starts. After that first fish I spent quite bit of time stalking through the high, cloudy water vainly trying to spot a fish before stepping on it. I found a few, and even managed to hook and land a couple, but it was pretty tough overall. The water was very high and cloudy...I just couldn't see them. After a couple of hours of searching with only one or two more fish to hand, things turned around in a hurry. As usual, it was just a matter of finding the right water type. I found some small bays surrounded by rocky points. The high water had pushed the fish right into shore, but they felt pretty secure in these little bays, and I started getting into them regularly. I was walking upstream, making short casts at tailers with a double san juan worm rig. If you are making good casts with an SJW at a tailer, you might as well be using a net. That fish is caught. It held true today too...The presentation from directly behind them was tricky...trying to get the fly on their nose without lining the fish wasn't easy, but everytime I made the right cast, I hooked up with a decent carp.

For some reason, the fish only wanted the worm today. I had gone through the usual run of carrot flies, hare's ears, various crayfish patterns and other misc. flies, but the carp were all about the worm today. This nice mirror came on a great big SJW...tied on a size 4 hook with a normal size black bead...Just for the heck of it I had tied these big worms, and I actually caught quite a fish on them today. I'll have to add a few more sizes of the SJW to the box.

In total, I think I landed about 15 carp. I only landed 2 big fish, both scaled out at 17 lbs. Most of the fish were around 10-12 lbs, and they were all tough today. I saw a LOT of backing and by the end of the day my rod arm was cramping...the carp kicked my butt today. I did have 2 fish on that were likely over 20 lbs. One that looked to me to be in the low 20 just popped off right at the net. The fly just pulled. The other fish was a serious fish...easily the biggest fish I've hooked this year, I'd guess that it was pushing 30 lbs, but when I reached for it with the net the fish gave one more head shake and popped the tippet. I was pretty bummed...I really wanted to put the scale on that fish.

All in all a great day on the water. I was faced with some tough conditions today with the high water, poor visibility and some strong winds, but I managed to find some fish! Only a few weeks and Wendy Berrel and his brother will be out here, as long as the water comes down a bit and clears up a touch, we'll have a great trip.

I finally got a chance to take JJ fishing. We chased Carp for a few hours yesterday, but couldn't get any to eat. The local pond Carp are pretty educated. We did get this bass to take a Montana Carrot...JJ had a great time!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Another spring trip in the books. I'm not really sure how J and I managed to turn this into such a great tradition...over the years we've increased our time on the water, changed our locations and desired species, and covered nearly every watershed within a couple of hours of "home base." Come to think of it, the home base had a major shift when J moved down to Rochester, but the spring trip survived that and kept right on rolling. This trip has really taken on a life of its own, and is something that is on my mind most of the year leading up to the days we get to spend time plying the waters in Minnesota. Most years, we have faced some type of adverse conditions, usually marked by heavy rainfall and rising rivers, one year marked by a frigid cold front that made me realize why I love Oregon! As J would say, when it is below 60 degrees I put on my winter coat. Through it all the overlying memory of the trip is of how easy it is to fish with J. Most think of fly fishing as a solitary sport, but fly fishing with a good friend enhances the experience. I hope we can keep this tradition alive, and look forward to a few years down the road when our sons and daughters will join us on the water.

As for this year's trip...another great one. Day one was originally going to be our "grab bag" day. You can always count on a fun day just blind nymphing beneath the dams in Minnesota. Such an incredible variety of species found in one area and they all seem willing to eat a well drifted rubber legged hare's ear! This year, we hit a spot on a hunch by J, and found some seriously entertaining sight fishing.

It didn't take us long to get into fish. One of the striking things about these carp is that they were definate meat eaters. The flats here in OR are full of carp, but in my experience they tend to eat more nymph type of patterns. On Thursday, the fish that were feeding wanted meat. They pounced on big flies with aggression. Most takes were obvious, including one definate "cat pounce" moment that I've come to love about carp fishing. Carp seem to be able to leap straight up, turn and land on a fly just like a cat. It sounds ridiculous to think about that in the context of water, but that is exactly what it feels like.

We spent some time spotting, stalking, and catching nice carp in a shallow, river setting. To be honest, it was tough to leave, but eventually we headed to a dam for some grab bag action. As J mentioned in his report earlier, the grab bag didn't come together in a big way, but we did manage some fish. I landed a nice northern Pike on a size 10 hare's ear (that still cracks me up) and J caught this great smallmouth.

We finished the day at an old college hangout, watchin the Cavs obliterate the hawks and eating some burgers. Pretty great day on the water.

Day two was much more of a crap shoot. With low water conditions we zipped around a bunch of spots, looking for a mix of blind nymphing opportunities and some sight fishing if we could find it. Right away we did find some sight fishing. Despite low light and clouds we spotted some buffalo, and I managed to get two to eat flies. Those were the only two buffs of the trip, I was thrilled to get a couple! We did some driving, scouting, fishing...everything wrapped together as we moved around and found some fish here and there. We caught some carp, we caught some bullheads (of course), but the overlying thought I'll have of day two is that we were in Minnesota. That sounds strange, but until you've spent some windshield time in Minnesota you might not know what I mean. Minnesota isn't the twin cities and is the small town laid out in grids, the houses on corner lots, the water towers. There is a feel in that country that just hits you.

As the day wore onto evening, we headed back to Rochester so J could attend a preplanned function with his family. I headed out with the thought of fishing one 10 foot slot of river that we know generally holds stacks of fish. No dissapointment on this evening either. I fished until dark in the rain, landing 9 quillback carpsuckers and one nice carp...all without leaving that slot.

The quillback is an interesting fish, and a great surprise to catch. The are not heavy or big, but they are FAST. The instant you hook them they seem to swim 3 or 4 different directions at once...they remind me in ways of Coho Salmon, though the salmon have much more sheer power. There are worse ways to end a day that hooking a bunch of quillbacks. After releasing my last fish, I finished the day with some great food at the best coffee shop I know...Dunn Brothers in Rochester, MN.

I spent day 3 on my own. My intent was to trout fish a stretch I'm familiar with, then meet J and the kids to fish together in the evening. I wandered around the stream, plunking nymphs and watching for a hatch. I caught fish and really enjoyed most of the day, but the magic really happened as I returned to the car. I stopped to chat with a gentleman casting a beautiful cane rod (I believe it was a granger taper). He was kind enough to let me try it out, and as we spoke the river came alive. The trout were chasing BWO through the current seams as far as you could see. I moved upriver and stood in a nice slot, surrounded by rising fish. I caught some fish on dries, then switched to a floating nymph, trailing a soft hackle. I spent the tail end of the hatch swinging flies down the run, getting hits on nearly every swing. I lost track of the number of beautiful brown trout I caught, but the number didn't matter. It was magic on a trout stream.

By the time I actually made it to the car, I'd missed our planned afternoon connection. I zipped into St Charles just in time to meet J and the kids at the hotel. We had a guys night Pizza party, watched some basketball and I enjoyed getting to know J's kids a little better.

The next morning I woke up and debated. Head to a trout stream, or head north to look for carp and try to get home early to see my kids. To be honest, I really missed my family. I thought back to the few days we'd had fishing together...the visuals of Thursday; the pike on the hare's ear; standing on a bridge together looking for fish; a nearly epic BWO hatch on a perfect MN trout stream; good coffee in the mornings and great conversation throughout. I said goodbye, jumped in the rental and headed north. I made one quick stop, geared up and stalked down the river bed, looking for one visual, one moment to wrap things up and officially end another spring trip. I very nearly blew it. With poor visibility I almost stepped on what would be my last carp of the trip. Instead, the fish kept feeding, oblivious to the fact that I was only a few feet away. I checked my fly and flipped it in front of the fish, of course it was a rubber legged hare's ear. As the fly sank, the fish stopped its vigorous tailing and eased forward and almost casually opened its mouth and sucked in the fly.

Another trip in the books.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Caught on a size 10 Rubber Legged Hare's ear. Two things to say about that...

One: Steel leaders and 6 inch bunny leeches are for wusses.

Two: Is there ANYTHING that won't eat a size 10 Rubber Legged Hare's Ear? Seriously...

Check out Wendy Berrel's report at Fishing and Thinking in Minnesota. As usual, a superb write up of Day One. I'll add more when I get home and hook up the camera. I've got a sweet picture of J duking it out with a nice carp.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Two minute mid-mn spring trip report. Day one rocked...think carp spotted, stalked, and hooked in shallow water. On video. Also think about ditching the 6 inch long bunny streamers for northern pike...a size 10 hares ear is much more effective. Oh, don't forget the burgers at an old college hangout...and chili.

Day two just ended. Much hunting and pecking, fish were caught. A good size buffalo pretended to be a tailing carp, complete with the munching of a carrot fly. I did a solo run after dropping J off at home for the evening and in one 10 ft section of water landed one nice carp, and 9 (NINE) quillback carp suckers. Think about that, then think about hot coffe, and white bean chili at Dunn Brothers.

More to come.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Word of warning to the roughfish and trout of MN...In less than a week Wendy Berrell and I will be stalking through the rivers and lakes, armed with fly rods and rubber legged hare's ears.

The annual spring trip is here!