Saturday, January 29, 2011

Blast from the past

I suppose at some point this weekend I will hit the vice and crank up the production line in preparation for warmer weather and days on the water, but part of what makes carping so great is the idea of visual memories (coined by Wendy b). Sitting in a coffee shop, listening to the kids chatter and drinking a hazelnut mocha it is pretty easy to kick back to small flashes and moments. Nothing as extravagant as a full blown movie in your mind but the details are what own you anyway. The change of color from dark to pure gold when a carp rolls on the fly, the tails breaking the surface and flapping in the breeze like the obnoxious Ducks flags flying from cars during football season, even the sudden change of direction and burst off the flat as a carp ejects your offering and beats tail for deep water. I have a million of these stored up in my head, and it is nice to take them out, dust them off and drift away for a moment. In the end though, all the past reflection leads to visions of the future, more memories to be made and friends with which to share them. You can't look back without thinking forward.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Story time

The scene after dinner tonight:

We recently finished off the library (complete with two kids size chairs) and it has quickly become one of our favorite rooms in the house. With a borderline reading prodigy of a six year old around, I guess that makes sense. Tonight after dinner Elia and JJ snuck off to the library for some story time. Moments of peace. As a parent, you learn to treasure them.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Once upon a time, this was my go to fly for carp.

I remember the utter confidence I had in this fly...I knew carp would eat it. Then for some reason I switched up to this type of stuff.

A simple rubber legged hares ear. Looks basic, is basic, but one particular spring it was absolutely my favorite fly.

I have used a ton of different patterns now, my fly box is usually awash in colors and marabou and rubber legs, but more and more I am becoming convinced that the pattern truly is less important than the presentation.

This year, the plan is to carry less variety, but in more colors. I am tying the basic green nymph in various shades and with several hackles...sans rubber legs and as simple as possible. I am betting I still catch quite a few fish.

Monday, January 17, 2011


In Chicago, missed my connection to Pittsburgh. Got wireless, a basketball game and an early morning flight. A quick google search found this:

Old post but enough to make me think I should bring a rod next time I am in town...just look for the "scum collecting around the downed trees."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Deschutes

The much anticipated trip to the D didn't quite live up to the unreal expectations I dreamt up in my thick, carp loving skull. I look to fond memories of the D in my mind; intricate holding water, dark colored fish, tiny pheasant tail nymphs and red copper johns. I remember leaping trout, brushing caddis flies off my neck and the moment when you KNOW you have the right drift and you can set the hook with your eyes closed. What I missed in my mind is a calendar. The D in winter is a different place, something that I know of course, but something you tend to be blind to when launching on a return trip. In January...the D is tough. We drove to the river lamenting the fact that the water level had nearly doubled in the past two days, and we found a river cold, fast, and big. Very big. But...we fished, and we cast, and we drifted, and we found a few old friends.

I hooked up with a decent little trout a mere cast or two into the day. Coleman got off to a quick start with a whitefish and in short order chris had a fish to hand as well. With fish to hand the rest of the day seemed easier, though the fishing only got tougher. The river was just too big and fast and we struggled to find water that could be fished without climbing ropes or a safety net. The river was in the grass, and a simple fly cast was nearly impossible. We forged on and found a few more fish here and there, a handful of trout and a bigger handful of whitefish.

Still, it was time on the river with friends. Shocking how easy you fall into the old rhythms of fishing with friends. Conversation flows, gear is shared, runs are divvied up with a nod or a wave and the river flows onward.

We closed the day with some local fare distinguished primarily by the proprietor's spelling, and the fact that when asked (seconds before opening the door) if the food was good Scott responded " Shit no!"

Just another day on the D.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Pink Squirrel

Deschutes river style.

You know you are no longer a trout guy when you have exactly one scud hook in the desired size. Thousands of hooks in my kit and literally one in the appropriate size. It figures. Still, not being a trout guy has it's advantages. Chief among those is when I show up to the river on Saturday and proceed to spend the bulk of my day cursing the tangles caused by my two fly rig and being thoroughly out fished by my companions I can simply say, "I am not a trout guy." First off...the water moves. A lot, and fast. Once upon a time I could peer into that moving water and spy out that tiny change in depth and current, then deftly drop my nymphs in place and pull a feisty trout out. Those days, the days when I set the hook without thought or reason are long gone, but the company will be great, the river pure and the fish (if I catch them) beautiful. So, I cobbled some flies together from bits of fluff and feather, on hooks scrounged from the depths of my gear bag and stripped of the former components that made them attractive to trout. And with that...we will see how it goes.

The nymph box (still pretty stocked) of a former trout guy.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Tying flies, with help from JJ

About halfway through last season I came to the realization that my favorite carp fly was that simple green fly. I tied them in a few other colors and they all worked. Nothing complicated, just a basic soft hackle pattern. The carrot has that distinctive soft hackle look as well, and Mr. P busted out his Black Betty pattern to great effect during the 2010 season. This year, I plan to keep things simple. I will carry a bunch of colors all in the soft hackle style and just see what happens. I have a pretty good handle on the appropriate size (seems to be a 6-10) that gets the most consistent response so I should be able to work up an army of test subjects. Off to a good start today, with a little help from my son and his current superhero fascination.

Of course, the worm needs to be tied as well. Hands down, when it comes to tailing fish in a sand or mud flat no fly will out fish the worm. The hackle flies, carrots etc. seem to out fish the worm in other water types, but dropping that worm on a tailer in a cloud of mud is deadly.

Inspired by Mr P's Black Betty, but tied with my lazy attitude and no frills...

The body is black chenille (with orange sparkle flecks in it, pretty sweet coloration) and the hackle is black pheasant. The Green Lantern approves.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

6 years?

Has it really been six years? Elia turns six in just two days. Pretty difficult to understand that time frame, and even tougher if you know Elia. If you met her for the first time you would swear she is 9 or 10. Here is a shot from this morning. That is a big book for an almost 6 year old.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Spring carp

A big girl from the past. Spring carping has it's rewards. The fish are harder to see and don't run as much in the cooler water, but it you catch a few rays of sun and the river opens up in front of you sometimes it shows you a few monsters.

It is going to be a long wait.

Rumor has it a legendary carper from CO is making his way to my home waters this season for some time on the big C. Check out McTage's blog at Truthfully, those south platte boys know their stuff and I hope I don't embarrass myself. I am pretty impressed with the cadre of carpers in CO and anxious to see how their methods differ from mine, and how some of their bad ass patterns play on the big C. Bring some of those Primordial Carp Crust flies McTage!

Should be a great visit, just glad I will have the home court advantage.

Just looked back at that first pic. Good god that thing is a hog.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Too many days

Too many days without fishing. I haven't stepped in a river since late October. Ouch. January is simply too busy right now for a run to the river, but rumor has it the Montana clan will be on a sunny beach somewhere in Feb! Might be that a fly rod (or two) will tag along for the trip. Until then, I still have my memories.