The first fish I spotted was literally sitting motionless exactly where I had planned to step into the river. It was a pleasant surprise, but of course I managed to blow it. We started a hashtag on Instagram a year or two ago at the behest of my buddy Dan, owner of Carp Pro. I have been tagging photos #carppro for quite some time now, but in no way did I ever mean to claim that I was worthy of such a tag, it was meant as an homage to Dan's company, a great resource for us carp on the fly guys. I occasionally see someone tag a photo #notacarppro and then I feel bad. The moment I blew that fish on Sunday I made a mental note to add that hashtag to my list for frequent use. I figured that might be the best shot that I would get all day.
It wasn't. The fish were around, if not very active. I saw three tailing fish, and caugh them all. 2/3 of the way through my planned river walk, roughly one mile to go and I had seen 13 fish. In June, I would have expected to see 10 times that number in the same area. Things are winding down.
I finished with 8 to the net, with one nice 16 lber...no photo. I have too many photos. It was a casual day, and while I always get excited when a carp comes into view and I get to plan a stalk, I only had one real heart in my throat moment.
I was walking back, and moving quickly along the shoreline. Still, I couldn't resist poking my head through the brush now and again. I almost never recycle water on the big C but the numbers on the way out had been so low I figured a fish could pop up anywhere. I was right. I stuck my head through some brush and there was a giant log of a carp laying in the shallows. She wasn't eating, just sitting there, but any carp in knee deep water is programmed to at least acknowledge food. I snuck around behind her and found a hole in the brush, then stalked her from directly behind. At two rod lengths I made a flip cast and used a drag and drop and flip to put the flies into position...both sinking in a line perpendicular to the fish, each fly falling just where I wanted it to. She turned and ate the hybrid on the drop.
When I played basketball I never left a gym without making my last shot. Ever. I would sneak out of locker rooms in opposing gyms to make a quick layup, or grab a ball on my way to the bus. This felt like that. It felt like my last shot...but not a layup while the managers packed the bags, this was a game winning three from deep. She was a big fish, and she took off to my backing. I tried to get a mental image of just how long this fish was, but it was already slipping away. I looked around as the fish blasted into my backing, trying to find the right bush for the photo (the five of you that read this blog know I am good at photos of me, a fish and a bush!). All this cocky thinking and dreams of my college days...well, that shit don't fly when you haven't even handled the first run. She found the ledges, tucked into one, came tight for a moment and then sawed my leader in half.
So it goes. The big C for me is (probably) done. I missed my last shot, but as we get older even the shots we miss are pretty fun.