Wednesday, August 31, 2011

For a guy that hates to pack

I think I knocked that shit out of the park.

Managed to cram it all in a sense being separated from my waders! I did go from four rods down to two. I don't think I will need two 7 wts and the gloomis native run glx beat out the sage vt2. Still missing the mosquito head net, think I will pick one up tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I hate packing

I feel like this is a good start though. 4 rods and three reels...waders, boots, jacket, etc. Still a long way to go and the packing part of a trip is never something I enjoy. At least I don't need to worry about a bunch of flies. Going from "carp prepared" to "Alaska prepared" is a big jump!

Should I be worried that this is the extent of my preparation thus far and I leave Saturday?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

25 lbs of big ass carp

Slob. This monster was snoozing off the edge of the flat when a size 10 rust (singlebarbed free range dubbed) soft hackle gently splashed down about eight inches away. As the fly sank she eased down after it into the depths. I counted to three and lifted the rod. Slob.

Dr. Cane stuck this fish on a perfect worm take off an outstanding cast. The worm sank inches from the tailer...touched down and we saw the tail stop. The fish went horizontal, eased forward, went vertical and it was fish on.

This little guy ate a soft hackle like a feeding trout. The fish was stationed on a gravel bar facing into the current. It darted left and ate something. It darted right and ate something. It darted left again and ate my soft hackle.

This fish came off of sheer seduction. A tailing fish, it proved the rare exception that could resist a San Juan worm. Then along hopped a smallish looking bug...skittering and swimming. The fish followed...paused...followed and ate.

This fish came with persistence. Despite perfect positioning and some well placed take. Again and again this was repeated until the fish had simply had enough and stopped tailing and headed for deep water. In a last ditch effort I flipped the flies in front...strip, strip, strip, strip...the fish paused and I set the hook.

Carp on the fly.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bass and kids

The ease with which a person can catch bass on a spinning rod is shocking. Buy a couple of five foot ultra light rods, some blue fox spinners and jigs, add the pudding river (local warm water spot) and it comes together in a hurry. Been out three times with the kids. We carry three spinning rods (one each...sorry, but helping a five and six year old while fly casting is tough) and we catch small bass. Lots of them. First time out, we caught four (I hooked them all). Second time, we hooked about fifteen with the kids pulling their weight by slow rolling jigs along the bottom. Tonight, JJ and I landed eight. Nothing huge, mostly dinky smallmouth but they are great fun for the kids with those ultra light rods. We caught two largemouth too...not bad fish a five and six year olds. The most important part...the kids are having a blast.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Just over a week to go

The Royal Coachman Lodge

I can hardly believe this trip is so close. Thanks to The Reel John Montana I will find out if a carp fisherman can still catch trout...and salmon...and char...and grayling (and I secretly want to try for a sheefish if possible).

A week in the wilderness of Alaska with my dad. We will have some stories to tell.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Things I learned today

Big carp are tough. The plan today was to move quickly through the soft bottomed shallows, and focus on narrow gravel bars and deep edges. I was after big carp, and they just don't spend much time in places where they are easy to find. For a change...the plan worked pretty well. I skipped through the shallows mainly by being very picky about targets...I only cast at fish that were almost certain to eat. Once on the bars and edges I slowed my pace and lo and behold...big carp were tailing up and down the gravel. I got dozens of shots at fish in the mid teens but as already mentioned...big carp are tough! I couldn't get close to the fish because the cobble was so loud, and if I cast the fly close enough to get a take, the fish spooked...casting far enough away to avoid spooking the fish became a guessing game of which way the fish would turn. Most of the time, I guessed wrong. Carp don't get big by ignoring their surroundings, and you have to be on your game to fool them. Despite tons of chances, I only hooked one real monster (easy mid 20s...probably bigger) that promptly broke me off in a weed bed. I landed a handful of fish in the teens, but nothing huge.

Sleeping carp are tough. But catchable. After getting destroyed looking for big fish I stumbled onto at least 50 carp sleeping in the sun. Sleeping/sunning carp in deep water are my least favorite targets...but in shallow water they can be caught. Step number one, be a stealthy son of a bitch. Step two, dap a soft hackle on the fish. Rinse and repeat. I stuck a bunch of the sunbathers...fortunately they were spread put in a long line so I just inched along and pulled them from the pack. Occasionally I would have to wake the fish up to get them to eat. This is best accomplished by setting your fly on their nose. They usually shake their head like a dog, back up and eat the falling fly. After today, I am now saying that sleeping carp in shallow water are easy. The deep water sleepers still suck though.

The trick is in the retrieve. On the way back, I had caught my fill of fish and decided to mess with various retrieves. I had visions of Door County in my head and really wanted to see if I could get the fish to chase. I stuck to soft hackles, but tried long, slow retrieves, sudden stop and go, fast foot long strips, and then it happened. I put the soft hackle to the right of a cruiser and started stripping in fast, tiny, one inch pulls. The fish perked up and eased forward and I let the fly settle...paused, and then more fast, one inch strips. After a few strips the line came tight and it was fish on! I repeated this retrieve all the way back and it flat out worked like a charm. I still had to put the fly much closer than in Door County but the short strips seemed to get some attention, and while I wouldn't say the fish were chasing, the definitely moved to the fly. My usual method of sinking the fly in view and letting the fish find it is deadly, but it was fun to get the fish to move a bit!

The last thing I learned today...mirror carp are still the coolest.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Up close and personal

The outdoor blogger network put up a prompt about pictures that are up close and personal. Reminded me of these do I dig mirror carp!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Words of wisdom

From legendary WA carp angler WT: "You cannot underestimate the importance of direct sunlight when fly fishing for carp."

So yeah...I showed up with sharp hooks, fresh tippet, eagle eyes and willing arms but when the sky is covered in high, white clouds you are basically going for a walk. Don't get me wrong, a guy can make that work for you but the general "no visibility" method is to move like molasses and peer into the mirror like surface with laser focus. This method usually results in dapping at happily tailing fish from a few feet away, but when the area you are fishing is covered in baseball sized cobble the old sneaky approach ain't happening. With stealth unavailable to us, we had to rely completely on vision, and spotting the fish at a distance was a problem. As such, we had to work at it, but we put a few fish in the net.

As the sun started to peek out from the cloud cover, we found a few mor fish and were able to decipher the takes. There were no gimmes today. Takes were subtle and the cast had to be right on the fish. They just didn't want to move to the fact, despite the rock covered bottom I had some mild success with the venerable SJW.

I was fishing my standard two fly rig and changing up the back fly, but the front worm seemed to be the ticket. The fish were tailing, or slowly cruising along the cobble and when I could get the worm I. Front of them without spooking them, they ate it pretty well. We moved along from spot to spot, fishing gorgeous water and hooking enough fish to be happy. All told we likely landed ten fish, maybe a couple more. I broke a couple off being careless and trying to horse the fish in (I tried to "hot beach" one by sprinting up the gravel bar and dragging the fish like an anchor...the hook straightened and he popped loose in the shallows but I sprinted back down the bar and scooped the little bugger up with one hand!) I freely admit that I am addicted to the take. I love watching the fish turn, or flair their gills or see the fly float into their mouth...landing them is a bonus. I just like to hook them.

We had a nearly perfect hour in the early afternoon. The sun broke through, the wind died and we fished in a glorious setting. Rather than rush it, we went slower. We caught a few fish, took some pictures, and in general enjoyed the river.

What started out with the frustration of no visibility and spooked fish turned into some spotty action for the bulk of the day, and an hour or so of near perfect conditions. We experienced the gamut of carping on the Columbia, even ending the day literally blown off the river by the wind. All told, a great outing with Travis. I texted back and forth with Mr. P that evening, telling him about the day, and the last exchange summed it up best.

JM: Solid day. Some really memorable takes.
Mr. P: Excellent

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Currently, I am sharpening flies.

I plan on needing sharp hooks tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Been busy

At work...all I can say is that I need an outing. The spring trips (Wendy and WFF, McTage, Door) weigh heavily on my mind.

I can feel this carping season slipping away. August remains but September is likely a no go for me, albeit for good reason (Alaska here I come!)

Quite simply...I need an outing.

Friday, August 05, 2011

I am a lucky man

Today was quite a day. First off, I wasn't in the office. Don't get me wrong, I have a great job and feel very fortunate to be able to say so, but don't we work for moments like these? Sitting on some rocks, eating a sandwich with your kids and watching the waves pound the shore is highly desirable. Note the nets and bucket, this was primarily a crayfish expedition, just the three of us, the river and hopefully a few claws and tails. Still, the river isn't the same without a fly rod in hand, and a quick glance in a nearby bay showed a half a dozen tailing carp taking shelter from the wind and waves. I hooked one up, spent a minute letting the fish have it's way and turned it over to a couple of young pros.

Not a bad fish, probably 14 lbs and for the record, we called it after one. There were still fish tailing but the kids wanted crayfish, and due to the waves a change of scenery was needed. But first, the release.

The second stop had what we wanted and without the wind and waves. It didn't take long before we were netting and grabbing some crayfish.

Elia is a future biologist for sure, and the goal of capturing crayfish seems to be to transplant them into the man made pond in our neighborhood. We have turned at least a dozen loose, and there is some seriously high excitement when she or JJ spot "sparky" or "two claw" crawling around the local pond. We drove straight home and within minutes another batch of crayfish was swimming and crawling around the won't be long before the kids report a "reary" sighting.

It was a great day for me. I spent most of the day in awe of how awesome my kids are and watching these distinctive little people interact with the world around them. They love everything. They are excited by everything. We should all be so lucky.

A nice surprise

Got home from a great outing with the kids (report to come later) and I found a nice care package from Mctage. Thanks man! Technically I won these in a lottery off of a donation I made in Trevor's name for the carp slam in CO. But I honestly forgot he was doing the fly lottery deal until my name came up...great surprise as McTage ties a heck of a fly.

I promise to get these on the water as soon as possible...thanks man!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Blast from the past

Old picture. 2007 maybe? It is funny, I remember many takes, many misses, many "holy shit did you see that" moments but I don't remember many actual fish. Just further proof to me that fly fishing, especially for carp, is not about the end product. Like so many things it is the sequence of events that leads to the conclusion that really matters. Did you spot the fish before it spotted you? Good stalk? Better presentation and did that fish really just turn it's head? All of the above for this guy.

Sweet picture though.