Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Painful Reminder

I was wading about ankle deep. To my right was a wall of bushes, and to my left the water went from ankle, to knee, to thigh to belly deep in maybe ten feet. Big fish water. Normally I approach this type of water and realize it is a numbers game. My goal is to be in the right spot the moment the big fish moves out of the depth to feed. If she moves in way ahead of me she will probably leave before I get there and I won't see her. If she moves in behind me, I won't see her. If she doesn't move in, I won't see her. With that in mind I usually motor through this type of water quickly. I trust my eyes. I can spot carp, usually at a distance so I often walk a lot faster than most people would guess when I am hunting big fish. But today I had a strange angle, and a nasty glare that not even my trusty Costa 580g's could, the drop off was too steep to wade out and look in (using the bushes shadow to cut the glare). My only option was to crawl forward slowly, and it paid off.

I spotted the color first. Just a dark patch, 25 feet away but as I slowly cut the distance I could suddenly see a tail. I stopped then. It was a BIG tail, and I was only 20 feet away. I was tempted to make the cast now, but I couldn't see the head and this carp was happy, digging away, tail waving lazily. It was not going to chase a fly, not going to move. I needed to feed this fish, so I inched forward, looking for the head. At about 15 feet away I had a clear view of the fish, and remarkably, I had gotten there without spooking it. I made a long cast, letting my flies splash several feet away, the dragged them into position and let them sink. Here is where I messed up.

The second the lead fly (a trouser worm) hit the bottom the fish stopped tailing and inched forward. I could clearly see the fly, and clearly see the huge fish and it massive white bucket mouth about 4 inches from the t worm. The fish stopped, tail barely moving, holding itself in place as it considered the fly. I held my breath, certain I was about to latch onto a 30 plus lb fish. 5 seconds went by, then 10...I started to get itchy. The fish continued to stare. 15 seconds, I waited...20 seconds and I couldn't wait any longer. I twitched the fly and the big fish immediately spooked, and spooked hard. Water blew up, mud billowed and the fish ripped to the depths with one push of its tail.

A painful reminder...don't move your fly.

I have learned this over the years on the big c. The carp out here don't like to chase. They will reach out and grab a fly, turn left, turn right, occasionally dart forward but for the most part the only motion that doesn't spook them is a fly falling to the bottom. They seem t accept gifts from the heavens. On the big C, your best move is simple:

Show them your fly, and then let them eat it.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Euegene, OR

Come say hello Monday night in Eugene at Mckenzie fly fishers. Carp talk starts at 7!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

September carp

Got out for a solo day today. Late in the season the fish are spread out, and I didn't see masses of fish, but what I did see were pretty solid targets. I moved around quite a bit, covered a bunch of different spots and when I kept moving, I came across plenty of singled, tailing carp. Even late in the season, they dig the hybrid.

Most of the fish were tailing hard enough that I was seeing the muds long before I would see the fish. In one spot, I saw a huge mud from a few hundred feet away, and painfully snuck by some smaller fish to see what was in the big mud. When I got there, there were four heavily feeding carp. I stared for a while, figured out the biggest one and then promptly lined one of the other three trying to catch the big one. So it goes.

Ran into my friend Todd, just in time to see him catch a 20 lb mirror...yes, I was appropriately jealous. That is like my holy grail right there!



All told I landed 9 or ten fish. I weighed three fish at 19 lbs and hooked at least one that I thought was bigger but lost that fish to a nasty weedbed. It was a nice, relaxed day. I never got in a hurry, just meandered along, casting at singles...late season carping is just a different pace than the frenetic spring.



Thursday, September 04, 2014

Two years ago

Two years ago my dad passed away. I still think about him all the time, but there are a few days a year where remembering is more sad than happy. Miss you dad.

Written a few days after he died:

My dad was a hero. I don't mean a hero in the sense that most dads are heroes for their young sons and daughters, though he certainly was that as well. I mean he was an honest to god all American hero. My dad flew Cobra gunships in Vietnam. He was the kind of man that stepped forward when everyone else stepped back. He volunteered for the missions that no one else wanted. My dad was the pilot the Blues and Scouts wanted flying cover when the shit hit the fan. They knew he wouldn't flinch. He would fly into danger to help them get clear of danger. Once upon a time my dad wasn't John Bartlett, he was "Bloody Bart". He was a hero.

When I was four my dad took me bear hunting. I shouldn't be able to remember much, but I do. I can clearly see the marshy field from our spot on the edge of the tree line. I recall the color of the twilight, and I can feel the rough denim of my dads jeans as I slipped my hands into his back pockets to keep up with his long legs. Mostly though, I can hear the boom of his 30-06. We shot a bear that night, and as I sit here writing my ears are still ringing. I feel as if they have been ringing since my mom called Tuesday night to tell me he was gone.

How many young boys can say they have walked the wild of the Kootenai River? My dad took me. He was the engineer on a work train out of Libby, MT. As such, he spent four days inching along the tracks while the crews cleaned and repaired tie at a time. In the morning, he would run me out with him on the big locomotive and drop me off somewhere on the river. There I spent the, my fly rod, a half dozen royal coachman's and the trout of the Kootenai. As evening approached I listened for the whistle of the train and waited on the tracks for my dad to come and get me.

His heart had been failing for years now. Last year the doctor told him his ejection fraction (the measure of how much blood your heart is pumping) was less than 20% of a healthy person. Rather than ponder all that he could no longer do with only one fifth of a heart, my dad shot back at the doctor and the world "IT IS A GOOD THING MY BALLS ARE FIVE TIMES THE SIZE OF MY HEART"!

My dad lived his life. He loved his life. He went at everything full throttle and never slowed down. He is gone now, and the world is undeniably a darker place. I am not a religious person, but much like my dad I believe in a higher power. And just like him, I see that power in the wind through the trees and the waves in the water. So I know where to look for him. No one that met him could avoid being touched by him, so he surrounds us all. I see him in Elia's quiet determination. I see him in JJ's fierce competitive spirit. I see him today when I am down, and I will see him in myself tomorrow...when I get back up. I know where to find him and the next time I am walking my favorite flat, I know I can count on him to give me a little extra ripple on the water so I don't spook that big fish. And if I listen real hard after I blow the shot...I bet I can hear him laugh.

Dad, we thank you, we love you, we miss you.