Saturday, June 29, 2013

Carp-ocalypse 2013

Just over a month away! Get over to Orvis in Portland or Bellvue to sign up. Last year was a blast, and this year promises to be bigger, better, and even more fun. Keep tabs on Facebook, and bring your A game to the river. Big C carp are tougher than you think, but we won't lack for targets, and the loot...yeah, the loot is going to be pretty good. Orvis has fancied up one of their already fancy (and outstanding) Helios 2 rods so the winner will be able to show off a one of a kind Carp-ocalypse emblazoned rod! The H2 is my go to rod out here, read my review here.

I hope to see carpers from all over show up on the river and give the big C carp a shot! Stop in or call the store to sign up!

And don't forget to head over to Orvis's Carp Central to see the latest photo contests and events...get entered, win some cool stuff (including another H2 up for grabs!)



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wendy's Lake MI advantage

Our trips over the years have become about a lot more than one fish, but I will remember this one, though I didn't see the take. I do know this...Wendy has a distinct advantage on me when it comes to our Lake MI pilgrimage. I call that advantage "the Boundary Waters Edge." In short, the dude gets a week in the Boundary Waters every year, catching nice smallies on poppers and clousers. The result of this week is he is totally and completely focussed on CARP when we fish Lake MI, while I get occasionally distracted by the bass. It sort of looks like this.


I just don't see decent bass that often, so when I am walking along and I see one...I cast at it. Wendy, he stays alert for carp. Truthfully, I am happy as hell to hook and fight a smallie...I enjoy the mad strip set feeling and the leaps and tugs as I STRIP in a smallmouth. Then I see Wendy battling a carp as line flies off of his reel and his backing gets dirty and wet...and I sort of slap myself. Note the picture, with a decent bass (not even a big one) which meant Wendy got first cast and hooked this fish:

That was a 25 lb beast that represented his personal best for about ten minutes (caught on his Fucking Yarn Invasion fly by the way). So here is the situation as it occurred on that day. I fought a bass and netted Wendy's carp, then I took some photos of him, celebrated, high fives and the likes and together, we released the fish.

We took a moment, together, to revel in his PB...and then, again, together, we turned back to the flat. We walked a few feet...together, and I spotted another bass. Wendy stayed focussed and kept walking while I peppered said bass with flies for about 7 minutes. That gave Wendy enough time to hook this one.


26 lbs, and his new (broken the next day) personal best. I love this photo for two reasons. One, I was super happy for my friend. And two, you can just see Wendy smirking out the words "hey John...that was a nice bass."

Monday, June 24, 2013

We have a winner!

Big thanks to Stonefly Press (and of course to Kirk Deeter for doing such an awesome job with the book)! The winner is Gabriel Langley! Shoot me a message on Facebook to collect.

Couple other things to mention. First, my buddy David and I crushed fish yesterday, no real monsters, but David landed a nice 17 lber...on a Catch Fly Fishing prototype clam fly no less. Awesome to see several carp move to eat these flies. Stay tuned to Catch, some fine tuning but he might have a winner soon.

More on this later, but I have two presentations coming up, so hope to see some of you and say hello. July 16th at The Clackamas Fly Fishers Club, and July 27th at Royal Treatment Fly Shop. The last one at Royal Treatment was standing room only, so get there early if you want a seat (it is easier to steal my flies from the front row.)

More to come on Lake MI, the trip with Dan from Carp Pro, and a review of "The Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing for Carp"...I need to get writing. Truthfully, the fishing has been so good the blog is suffering a bit. My bad!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Contest Time!

Thanks to the boys at The Stonefly Press, you can win a copy of "The Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing for Carp!" Head on over to my Facebook page for details!

Yes, the book is awesome...and yes, I have a review to post soon. Trust me, you want this book.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lake MI

Every year J and I end the trip, look back and find one memorable line or saying that leaps out at us. Over time, we bust that out to make each other laugh, or remind one another of a past trip and the good times that we have shared. Last year, it was easy. After sticking a big fish (on video) J turns to me and says "That is a bitch of a fish John! A Bitch of a fish!" One of our all time favorites is from years ago, plying the Mississippi for carp. We came upon an old dude fishing away on a dike. He was stunned to learn that these two idiots with fly poles were out looking for carp, and once his initial shock wore off he turned to us and said: "So, are you much into Sheepshead?"

Why yes...yes we are.

This year, it came early. We had been relatively unsuccessful on the morning of day one, seeing a few carp and catching g a few bass, when we rolled into the parking area of a spot we love. A bass fisherman came tromping though the trees carrying a massive stringer of bass. Upon seeing our fly rods, buffs etc. he immediately figures we are after carp. "See any back there?" I ask...and the he says three words that basically set us up for the remainder of the trip.

"Hundreds of them!"

From there it was a simple matter of disengaging from that conversation as quickly as possible without being rude...and waylaying fish after fish after fish. The carp were there. We were armed, and relatively was a fine, fine recipe.

I often speak to how difficult the Columbia River carp are, and that is truly the case. The difficulty at home lies in presenting the fly closely, avoiding spooking the fish, and detecting a nearly imperceptible take at distance. It is a serious set of challenges, and to a man, everyone who has fished the river with me has agreed that the big C fish are quite difficult. This isn't to say that Lake MI fish are point of fact, they are not. Lake MI carp are still carp and they give nothing for free, but the challenges they impose are different than the fish I chase at home. Gone are the super subtle takes, replaced by movement and, oftentimes, aggression. Gone is the need to place the fly so that it sinks mere inches from their face, replaced with the need to make long casts to moving fish and time said cast so the splash of the fly isn't noticeable and the intersect path is perfect. For the most part, gone also is the ability to close the distance on the fish. Back home, I quite frequently put the stalk on fish, but on Lake MI, long casts are required.

These differences put a strain on a guy. Try chucking a large sculpin helmet and rabbit strip fly 80 feet repeatedly for 4 days, fighting strong, hard charging carp, and yes...hoisting a 28 lber one handed for a photo (new record). In arm still hurts.

These are the things I will remember best about this trip, this year, and this experience. We literally saw "Hundreds of them!" We fished so hard that our arms and bodies were beat. And we laughed and smiled so much that we stored up more than one winter's set of memories.

For the numbers, and better detail than I can provide, go read Justin (Wendy Berrell's) report. The guy is quite literally a poet, and will do justice to this particular experience better than I can. Let it be said though, that while the fishing was insanely spectacular (we were dumping 18 lb fish out of the net with nary a glance or pause) this trip is a success every year regardless. J and I...we get it. We get the need for bonds and friendship that extend well beyond college, and more importantly we get that those needs can be better met and bonds can be better forged when your boots are in the water and your hands are wet from the lake. Having raccoon eyes and wind swept cheeks, bloody fingers and sore heels, leaky waders and a rental car trunk that smells so bad you wonder if you somehow left a dead fish in there...these are the things that matter. And you only achieve those things by GOING and DOING. You don't get there by dreaming.

So once again, the bulk of the thanks to our families. I sit here on Father's Day writing this, missing my own dad fiercely and knowing that he would approve. Hell, he would have been right there with us, eating bad food, destroying the rental car and storing memories. Thanks to Justin, the best fishing companion a guy could have, and thanks to his wife and kids for letting me steal him for a few days. Mostly, thanks to my wife and kids...they get it to. Kelly knows me, and knows that I am a better person for having these adventures with J. She doesn't understand fishing, or cheap hotels, but she understands me...oh how I love that woman.

Til next year...see you soon Lake MI!



Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Day 4

Essentially more of the same.

Just a crazy 3.5 days of fishing. More to come on this trip as I find time to process, but we deciphered some raw numbers as we headed home. Roughly 135 total carp to hand (and some bass). Top 20 fish were all over 20 lbs, including one 31 lber. Total weight for the top 20 was 471 lbs of carp. We each caught 10 fish over 20 lbs.

Once again thanks to Justin (Wendy Berrell). This guy is basically the best fishing companion you could ask for, and I am so thankful we have been able to keep these trips going. And of course, thanks to our lovely wives and children. They let us zip off I to the wilds for four days to play with carp, eat bad food and sleep in cheap hotels...that is love.

More to come on this one...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Orvis Carp Central

The summer of carp is here! Check out Orvis's carp central, which has a ton of good info...oh, and some contests! Top prize is an H2 outfit...that is a sweet prize. Get your photos uploaded and keep an eye on carp central!


Day three

By 0945 we had landed 4 fish over 20 lbs (Justin had 3 of them). It slows considerably from there, but thankfully J came through again with this 31 lb monster.


One day is going to be difficult to sum this trip up when it is all said and done.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Day two

We learn what epic truly means.


Justin's top 5 fish today: 26, 25, 21, 21, 19.

My top 5 fish today: 28, 24, 24, 23, 21.

We caught a lot more than 10 fish too.


Thursday, June 06, 2013

A good day

I knew Sunday was going to be good, regardless of the fishing. I was set to fish with Adam, the fishing manager of the Orvis store, and the one and only RA Beattie of Beattie Outdoor Productions. I am a huge fan of RA's work and have burned countless hours watching "Off the Grid" and checking out his online clips. Truthfully, I was really nervous. I goof off with the blog and chase carp when I can, but Adam and RA are both real, actual pros. I was just hoping to avoid doing something stupid on camera.

Thankfully, these guys were both awesome. We set up on some water I like and RA ran around with the camera trying to make Adam and I look cool. The fish cooperated for the most part. I stuck a pig right away and it didn't take Adam long to show why he is a fishing manager...the guy can fish. We stalked around and caught fish while RA shot and carried a massive tripod. I ended up with a 23 and a 25 lb fish, and both Adam and I caught plenty of standard big C carp.

Partway through the day I handed off the rod and walked along while Adam and RA stuck fish. The only drawback to this was lugging RA's huge tripod made it kind of hard to help point out fish, but RA didn't need a lot of help.

As we neared the end of the water, Adam snuck ahead to put the stalk on a nice carp. RA managed to hook up on the backside and we were lucky to get a sweet double photo.

This was quite an experience, fishing with two really talented guys that are both at the peak of their craft. Humbling to stumble along and cast like an old woman beating off a fly with a broomstick whilst your partners are throwing tight loops into a headwind, but they were great companions. The only bad thing all day was that RA wouldn't give me an autograph...guess we will have to go again.


Thanks Adam and RA!

Monday, June 03, 2013

Two fish with Dan Frasier of Carp Pro

So despite how it may appear when friends come out to fish with me, I am NOT a fish poacher. Truly. I do not steal their shots, or wade into the good water first. In fact during our trip, I sat down and took photos of rocks, water, and my rod and reel rather than step into a really good bay while I waited for Dan and Jim to finish fishing a little flat. So why does it seem like I still catch a lot of nice fish when I am supposed to be giving up all the shots? Sheer dumb luck. Take this fish above. I had just released a really good 18 lber and Dan was with me for the photo. He stepped off first, walking the shoreline peering into the shallows looking for carp. I was about 8 feet behind him and 30 feet to the outside of him, basically catching up when I saw this fish. She was tailing...big paddle breaking the surface and she was a LOT closer to Dan than she was to me. "Dan...Dan...big fish to your left!" I half spoke half whispered, just loud enough for him to hear me. I KNOW he heard me because he waived me off like a pitcher not liking the pitch the catcher called for. Without turning his head he motioned ahead and held up two fingers. I took that to mean that he had not one but two targets in from of him...with those numbers I did what anyone else would have done.

I caught the big fish that was tailing between us.

Granted, it is worth noting that I only called out to him once.


It had been a long day one. Dan had casted well, spotted fish well, but still hadn't zoned in on the super subtle Columbia river takes. This is a normal situation...ask anyone that comes out here to fish, it is shocking how subtle these fish eat. It really makes it fun. Dan, however, is an extremely accomplished angler. He had caught a couple of fish with me hollering to set the hook and the timing was clearly coming together as near misses peppered the afternoon. Then it came together.

We spotted this fish in a stop and go mix of slow cruise and tailing. Dan got into position and laid out a perfect cast (which he did nearly every was very annoying). The flies settled to the bottom about 6 inches in front of the tailing fish, with the lead fly 4 inches to the right of the fish. The carp stopped tailing, swam forward as it looked for its next feeding spot and its head turned sharply and quickly to left. Dan struck, and the fish rocketed out of the shallows. It was a total veteran move.



Saturday, June 01, 2013

Hal and Teri

Spent a nice day with Hal and Teri. Hal had won the silent auction at the FlyFishers Club of Oregon that Teri set up...frankly, it freaked me out that a day with me got any bids, so I was feeling a little pressure. The good news is that both Hal and Teri were awesome! They had no problem spotting fish and in short order were detecting takes like big C vets! They both got into some nice fish...Hal had a couple of shots at serious (and I mean SERIOUS) big C carp.To top off a good day with great company, Teri made us a fantastic lunch..smoked salmon, homemade chicken salad and cookies? On the river? kicked ass. Thanks Hal and Teri!