I warned him. While on the phone with Carp Pro editor Dan Frasier prior to his trip to the big C I kept telling him, "these fish are tough...they won't move much, you gotta feed a feeding fish the fly and somehow detect the take." I did my best to not sound like a nag, but I really wanted to set the expectations. I have had carpers from other parts of the country come out here, and everyone has later acknowledged that these fish are really tough. Thankfully, we have tons and tons of targets, because if we only saw 10 fish a day doing what I do out here would be insane.
These fish will flat out stone you.
So I prepped him...lets be clear, I knew Dan could fish...he is one of the most accomplished fly carpers in the country, he can cast, spot fish, tie knots and do all the necessary stuff to catch big carp. He just hadn't had to detect the take from a 20 lb fish 40 feet away by spotting a gill flare or seeing the "tail speed up" (this one kills me by the way...I set the hook all the time on this and not ONCE have I ever really remembered what it actually looked like).
Dan took it well and came prepared. Day one went about as I expected. We stalked along and Dan peppered fish with excellent casts. Occasionally I yelled "hit him!" Or "he is on it" but hook ups were few and far between. The fish were eating the fly, but it takes shot after shot to see it. With an angler as good as Dan it was simply a matter of a few repetitions.
Late in the day it came together. We spotted a tailer at 40 feet and crept a little closer. The fish was stopping here and there, tailing up to eat, then moving a foot or two along the gravel to tail again. A perfect target. Dan made another great cast and drag/dropped the two fly rig so the flies split the fish's head...both landing right on the money. A TINY head turn followed...barely registering on my mental scale, but my body knew and I hissed in a short breath just as Dan lifted the rod hard and just stuck this perfect, perfect moment.
As the fish rocketed to deep water Dan turned to me with a huge grin on his face. "Did you see that take!" He exclaimed. I nodded and bumped fists...we caught a few more that day, but that one perfect moment was what I will remember. One painfully perfect presentation, one move, one eat, one fish.