It has been a pretty good season out west here...many carp have been caught and some days have seen conditions that were simply unbelievable. Frankly, I knew I was due for a big time shellacking at the hands of the Columbia River. That I can accept. As a fisherman, I have had my share of rough days on the water, you just take the good with the bad and let things ride. Unfortunately, my bad mojo caught up with me on the ONE day that Targhee from Utah Stillwaters was in town to chase carp.
Bad conditions amount to three things for me during the season.
1). Lack of direct sunlight. In this case...no sunlight.
2). High water. In this case the river jumped about 200,000 CFS 3 days before Targhee arrived.
3). Wind. In this case we had 15-20 mph, with late day wind that was crushing us at probably 30 mph.
The trump card here is the sun. If you have that, you can scratch out a good day despite the other two. When all three are bad...you may be in trouble. Despite the ass kicking trifecta being in place, we hit the river and made shit happen. Conditions dictated that we looked for fish in whatever shadows we could find to avoid glare. This worked, but meant only one of us could really fish at a time. This was fine with me as the main goal here was to get Targhee into some carp. Even with the deck stacked against us, Targhee came through.
Fishing with Targhee was great. Despite the worst possible conditions, he stuck it out, kept walking, kept peering into the glare and hunting for dark shapes in the dark shadows of trees. The takes were nearly imperceptible without the clarity of the sun, so we mostly cued on tiny pauses in the fish's movement, or a barely seen flare of the gills. Very tough stuff, and I was impressed with how Targhee put the fly where he needed it and fought through a total Columbia River ass kicking.
Late in the day, I broke down and put the stalk on a fish. No shadows to use, but I knew the fish was there by following a bubble trail. I stalked right on top of the fish, using the soft but firm bottom to barely move until I was basically standing on top of the active bubble trail. I peered into the glare intently, and after a minute finally spotted the gently moving tail. I dropped the flies where I thought the head was and waited. Eventually...the tail made a sudden, sharp movement, breaking its lazy waving pattern so I set the hook.
Not all ass kicking's are bad.
Big thanks to Targhee for sticking it out...pleasure to fish with you and if anyone gets to UT check him out here. Thanks again!