Spring is officially here, not ushered in by the radio reports and equinox, but by firm sand flats, cobble strewn shallows and gold tails, waving near the suface.
Most of that came true today. WIth the temps in the mid 60s and a forecast of mostly sunny I tore myself away from the kids and the NCAA tournament and searched out a flat. Armed with a 7 wt Gary Borger Targus rod and the usual assortment of flies I donned my waders and stalked through the frigid shallow water. Yep, it was cold. So cold that 5 steps in I was nearly positive that the only fish I'd see this weekend were the goldfish that Elia planned to catch in our neighborhood pond tomorrow. I kept moving and scanning, moving and scanning and after about an hour of walking the bottom became less firm and I moved into the area where I thought I'd have my best chance of seeing some carp. Minutes later, I was frantically trying to take my fly off the guides as a decent fish moved slowly past me. Rusty...couldn't get organized in time for that one, but I was forwarned now!
The second fish I saw turned out to be the first fish of 2010, and the first and only tailer I saw today. The fish barely moved from his feeding spot, but the slight head turn was enough to make me set the hook. A few minutes later and I was cradling a 19 lb carp in my hands. What a start to the season! I kept moving, and found targets on the edge of the flat, mostly in deeper water, and mostly immobile. The water stayed cold, and the fish lethargic. I hooked another one, and it scaled an idential 19 lbs on the digital. Fish #3 came in a 16 lbs, and I figured I was bound to get a really big one if i kept going.
As is usually the case though, the action slowed dramatically. I kept moving and seeing fish here and there, but I couldn't get them to move more than mere inches for the fly, and they were spooky too! Bad combination...I was forced to put the fly right on them, but the slightest splash sent them moving slowly out to deep water. I managed 3 more; an 11 lb mirror, and a 12 and 13 lb common. They took both the carp carrot and the worm fly (3 each actually). For a while I kept beating my head against the water trying to force a carp to eat one of my new rabbit strip creations, but the bottom line was these fish were not going to chase a fly. The water was just to cold.
All in all, a solid start to the 2010 season. I feel satisfied, and can't really explain how good it felt to stalk the flats and hunt such noble fish. If you are taking the time to read this blog, I probably don't need to try to explain it. Any fisherman knows why we do what we do. The real season should begin in a month or so...this was a nice precursor, but the water is still a bit cold, and we need a warming trend to really get things going.