Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Guitar Pose

After taking a load of crap from my dad, the "Reel John Montana," Wendy and I decided to attempt to duplicate his famous fish holding pose. So here is the famous "Guitar Pose" made popular by my legendary old man.

Note the careful 45 degree angle...the "hugging" of the fish as if it represents a hard fought trophy (which it usually does) and most importantly, the blank look on the face indicating neither boredom nor excitement. Yes, just another day on the water slaying carp left and right with my "cat-like reflexes". Those that know him will agree...

My dad is one in a million folks.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Run of the mill 15 lber

As we slipped into the bay our feet were hurting, but it was our eyes that were the most exhausted. Staring into the mirror like waters under heavy cloud cover can do that to you, and we had been dealing with clouds for at least an hour or two. The bay was a welcome relief from the softball sized cobble that we had been slipping and sliding through for the past couple of hours...firm sand underfoot, and the water temperature took a notable tick upwards. We looked at each other, knowing there would be tailing fish around. As we peered into the water, searching for shapes, colors, and motion...the sun peeked out and everything opened up. We could see out in front rather than right at our feet, and the fish were there. I hooked and released a small fish quickly, maybe 9 lbs. A moment later I spotted another tailer and hooked up in short order. With the glorious light coinciding with the warm bay, these fish were in trouble.

After releasing the second fish I looked up to see Wendy intensely focussed on a target. His posture had changed, slightly crouched, a grimace on his face as he laid a short cast to what I could only see as a dark spot in the water. He stripped in some line, let it settle...then set the hook hard and fast. The fish blasted from the bay and headed out to the main river. After several minutes Wendy brought the fish back under control and slid him towards the net.

Did I forget to mention that at this point Wendy was fishing with a fully free spooling reel? The click and pawl on his Ross had given up the ghost about one carp back...Wendy had ended that fish with the pile of line below.

Somehow he palmed the reel without slipping and managed his line with skill. The fish slid into the net, a beautiful 15 lb fish.

Well done Wendy...

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Agony of Defeat

That was a very big fish.

Day Four

Saw lots of sunshine, lots of water, and lots of wind. But we also saw lots of this:

And lots of this:

More to come over the next week, and I am sure Wendy will have a report up as well. Another great trip...nothing like good friends and time on the water. Thanks for a great trip J!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Day three

You cannot underestimate the importance of direct sunlight when carp fishing. Today, we had none. Still, Wendy and I are nothing if not persistent so we walked along looking for tails breaking the surface, and we put the stalk on some fish. Tough, but rewarding fishing. We learned a couple of things. First, you can "one hand" a 20 lb just isn't easy.

Second, in tough conditions, it is less about the fish, and more about the experience surrounding the fish. We will remember some very specific incidences from today.

And third, I don't swear as nearly as much as Wendy.


For those keeping score, that is video of the hook set on two 20 lb fish.

Praying for sun tonight.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Day two

Or, "Wendy sticks a big one."

Semi tough day...clouds at the wrong time, winds big consistently, but you can't complain when you stick a 20 lber...oh, and I got it on video. Fair warning, there is some language here (born out of exuberance).


My best fish was this 17 lber...about as big as you can go with the one hand pose.

Having a good time, and two days to go!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

What do you do?

When you fly all the way to OR and the water is high, the wind is howling, and the sky is covered in clouds?

You get your ass in the water and stick a bunch of fish anyway. Day one is in the books.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Oh, to be 5 again

Spent some time on the river this morning with JJ and his friend Will. Kids find joy everywhere...when did we "adults" lose that ability, or at least start seeing it less? Technically, we were fishing, but mostly JJ and I tossed jigs while Will played in the mud. Eventually JJ joined him, but not before we caught a couple of small bass.

This was Will's first trip, and he was a little too afraid to hold a fish, but the fish were basically irrelevant...and while welcome, completely unnecessary. This morning was about friendship, and joy. For the most part, I just abounded.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

More Ammo

Big thanks to Mctage...he hooked me up just days before Wendy Berrell gets herewith a batch of carp stew. Check out these bad boys.

Those flies will soon be seen in the lips of some carp. You are the man Mctage!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Watch out carp

I thought it only fair to give warning to our quarry. Wendy Berrell lands in less than a week and we plan on terrorizing the local carp populations. Whipped up another 9 yummy soft hackles tonight and will continue to work on stocking the armory prior to picking Wendy up at the airport.

Me, Wendy, several fly rods, a shit ton of flies and a few days to do nothing but fish? I almost feel bad for the carp. Almost.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I crushed 'em

It came together today. After covering a lot of water last time out and only seeing a few fish, this time every fish within 10 miles was hanging out in a 1/2 mile stretch...including this guy:

Even missing half of his tail, he broke the 20 lb mark, but (understandably) he didn't put up much of a fight. You gotta hand it to carp though...they are tough! Every year I take a day off near my birthday, and I picked right this year. The sun was out, the water was down, and the fish were everywhere. I saw hundreds and hundreds of fish, and while I didn't attempt to keep track of how many I landed, it was a lot. Please excuse the lack of pictures, but when a guy has that many targets in front of him, who has time for pictures?

Best take of the day was from a 16 lb apex athlete type fish. With the carp slow cruising towards me in about two feet of water I dropped the soft hackle 8 inches in front and 3 inches to the right of the fish. He came to a complete stop, turned to the fly, and dropped his head to the bottom like he was kissing the sand. Seconds later and my backing got a tan.

Look closely...there is a fly WAY down there.

Just a killer day. With so many fish around I wasn't worried about spooking any, so I just waded through the smaller fish and targeted the mid size and bigger ones. I lost a monster to some sharp rocks and sawed off tippet, but I caught a lot of fish in the 13-16 lb range, and two that scaled out at 18 lbs. The carp woke up today, and I was right there with em.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The release

Sweet video from my friend David...release of the "small" 22 lber yesterday.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

30 lbs

Today was a strange day. I covered a lot of water, saw only a handful or truly "catchable" fish, and still managed to put 52 lbs of carp in the net. That is 52 lbs with only two fish I said, a strange day. This monster broke the ice for me several hours into the day.

It is hard to describe what it felt like to spot this fish. I had been walking and peering into the water for hours and had seen two fish, neither of which were feeding (or looking to feed). This big girl was thirty feet away, tail waving like a flag right up against the bank. Normally I am a proponent of taking the first cast you can make on a big fish...spooky buggers. But today, this big girl had three friends in the mix, all feeding happily away. I weighed my options. Make a cast, and one of the fish was likely to eat, but no way of targeting the one I wanted (all four fish were eating in the same spot). It was blatantly obvious that the big girl was the prize of the group, and I wanted the that fish, not one of her friends. My other option was to stalk in close enough to get the fly to the biggest fish. I went for the stalk.

Apparently I am a stealthy SOB because I got right on top of those feeding fish. After an arduous and painstakingly slow stalk, the eat was almost too easy. I dapped the fly on her head (still rooting) and as it sank a cavernous white mouth opened up and sucked it in. Beautiful. A few minutes later I was weighing her in my net. Just over 30 lbs...a true monster.


Fish number two came after hooking up with my friend David. She swam up behind us as we stalked down the bank together, and I happened to turn in time to get a fly to her...she ate without hesitation and tipped the scales at 22 lbs. next up was David.

We spotted some nervous water and David put the stalk on the fish. I watched as he got the fish to turn and try to eat (the white mouth again) only to have the fish miss the fly, mill around and hammer it again. Pretty heady stuff!

That was it for the day...the water is still high and cold and the fish were hard to find today, but the ones we found were worth it. I like to say that good things happen when you keep your boots in the water. It always pays off to keep looking.


Tuesday, May 08, 2012


The Roughfisher breaks the news...Should be a fun time! Details from Adam McNamara at the Orvis Portland store:

Last fall I started working on a little side project. I had an idea to throw a fly fishing tournament for Carp that would be a great chance for a bunch of people to get together catch some big fish, drink some awesome beer, eat some BBQ, and help the Native fish we all love. After some hard work and lots of help from from some awesome people at the Native Fish Society, Orvis, Ninkasi Brewing, Idylwilde Flies, John Montana, and others I am proud to say it has finally come together.

Today I am proud to announce the first annual Carp-pocalypse Tournament at Banks Lake in Washington. Clear water, shallow flats, lots of fish, and plenty of sun make this a perfect place for everyone to get together and have some fun while helping our native fish. This is a two day tournament with a tailgate party on Saturday night so come prepared to impress with your tailgating abilities as well as your mad flats fishing skills. All it takes to join is a minimum donation of $25.00 to the Native Fish Society. To sign up or get more information come see me at the Portland Orvis store or give me a call at 503-598-7680.

Good work Adam! Looking forward to this event!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Near Misses


Today was a good day. Gotta get that said and out of the way, lest the three of you that read this crap will think I am whining in the second half. I'm not. Today rocked. I caught many carp (somewhere between 15-20) including this great mirror carp:

Not large by any measure (will get to that later) but I dig mirror carp. This one was about9 lbs, and most of the fish today were your standard 9-11 lb variety. I caught one "big" 15 lber and one "big" 16 lber...I saw my backing a lot, including some blistering runs and I saw some sweet takes, but today was mostly about two near misses rather than any that I landed. It started with this.

That is a pretty major feed spot, and I could see a regular trail of them heading down the shallows. The water here was cold and rocky, not the soft bottom where I expected to find the fish, but this was as obvious as any deer trail I ever saw back in my hunting days, so I followed. Every five or ten feet there was another big divot, and some of the rocks this fish was moving were pretty big. Whatever was making this ruckus had to be large. After following for about 100 ft, I finally saw the fish, and it was a monster. I spotted her at about 30 ft away, facing shore and digging another trench. Before everyone jumps on me about "the big one that got away" let me just say that I agree there is a massive over estimate on fish in general (and carp specifically). I have tried to combat my own "fisherman's eyes" by carrying a digital scale, and I have weighed a lot of fish the past 6 years...I am pretty zoned in, even when just looking at a carp in the water. This fish was easy mid 20s. An absolute horse. At only thirty feet away, I had a great shot her and I cast with confidence. The cast was good, and the flies settled to the bottom about a foot from the feeding fish. Unfortunately, that was as close as the flies got. I let the flies sit there for about 5 seconds to see if she would move forward, then made one small strip to kick up some mud...and the fish bolted. Gone. Near miss #1.

Near miss #2 was even more heartbreaking. I kept moving down the cold, rocky section and after a few hundred yards I saw a big, dark rock about 80 ft away. I took a few more steps and looked at the rock was a lot closer than it should have been. And it was a big rock. I slowly moved up against the trees on the bank and stripped out about twenty five feet of line. The plan was simple...stand there until the fish was an optimal distance away and catch it. It worked too. The big rock (carp) moved perfectly into position, and was clearly looking for food. I made a short, 24 ft cast at the fish that was 25 ft away and the instant the fly hit the water the big carp surged forward and I saw a white mouth open and close. I stripped hard, figuring I had her nailed, but instead of seeing a hooked fish surging out of the shallows I saw a confused looking carp milling around in a small circle. I let the fly sink to the bottom and when the fish had turned to face me again I gave the fly a small, one inch strip to create a puff. Up went the tail, down went the head...I counted to one and trout set on. The fish shot by me as I frantically took up line and then leapt in the air like a rainbow, something carp rarely do.

It was a huge mirror. See disclaimer above re: size estimations. That fish was 20 + lbs...easy. And a mirror. I backed down to a place I could beach her, not wanting to risk the net on such a big fish. That decision probably cost me my first 20 lb mirror. As I towed the big girl to the beach, already composing a photo in my head the hook just popped free. It literally just flew out of her mouth, inches from water shallow enough to force her on her side. Is it okay for grown men to cry? I hope so...I have been after a 20 lb mirror for years...and I was mere inches from meeting that goal.

Like I said was a great day, no whining...but I will remember the near misses a lot more than the sure things.


Thursday, May 03, 2012

Hardcore Carp on the Fly

A few pictures of my friend Gregg...

Gregg has developed some unique carping techniques, primarily using egg flies and an indicator to fish in discolored water. He fishes out of a wheelchair, using a long handled net to land the fish.

Love these shots...some seriously hardcore carping Gregg! But no extra points for this last fish...

Bass are easy!