2013 started with a bang, but ended with a whimper. I caught my first carp in February this year, and in early march I was torturing Dan Frasier of Carp Pro with fish by fish text updates on my way to a 26 carp day. An auspicious beginning indeed. Most of the year was great, and I likely will do some recaps throughout the winter and offseason while slumming (kidding) for winter steelhead and salmon.
But all good things must come to an end, and for me at least...I think the 2013 carp season has run its course. The recent rains have raised all the rivers, dumping cold water into my beloved Columbia, and while the temps of the main river still hover around 60, the steeply declining graph is a killer for a shallow water sight fishing addict. I could extend the season by looking in some ponds, or chasing small carp around office complexes, but it just isn't what I am after. I want the gravel fish...the tailers and slow cruisers and marauders you find when the sun is high, the water clear and the river warm. These are the top fish...the fish that challenge, then frustrate, but ultimately reward you with blistering runs and golden hues. The book is likely closed on such creatures for 2014.
I went out today in search of one last carp in the gravel. I walked two known big fish haunts, and one area I fish soley for the sheer numbers of 7-8 lb fish that typically abound...but in miles of walking, I saw three carp. Total. I nearly had the storybook ending though. The first carp was 8 feet deep, and I only saw him as I stood on a tall boulder, and I never even took my fly off the guide. Carp two and three were together, and materialized out of nowhere. At first I saw a cloud of dust, then the tail of a 10 lber vigorously feeding in deeper water. Then I realized that the big pile of weeds on the surface next to the ordinary fish was actually a monstrous carp, it's tail breaking the surface as it fed nose down in water that rose to my waist. This was one of the two or three largest fish I had seen all season...it was meant to be...I would make the cast, she would eat, and I would clip off my flies in triumph and head home.
Instead, I made the cast and the fish surged forward toward my flies in a cloud of dust. I had to guess as I could no longer see her head, and I guessed wrong, setting the hook with authority and sending both carp fleeing to the depths of the river. I kept walking, but all I saw was a pod of chinook in a creek mouth. I half heatedly threw a hybrid at them and somehow the oldest, nastiest, moldiest fish ate the fly. No carp, and a moldy salmon.
So 2013 ended with a whimper...