I was thinking about this fish on the way home today. Great fish, a solid 22 lbs and when combined with a 21 from earlier in the day, my hot streak continues. Not seeing a ton of fish, but the fish I am seeing are players, and the average size has been up this early season. The river should warm a bit in the next few weeks and it is going to be a fantastic May and June. Back to the fish above...super subtle take. She was tailing in thigh deep water and I couldn't really see her head...just a tail breaking the surface and a mud cloud. I made a good cast, and dragged the hybrid into position near the fish, then let it sink. As always, I made no attempt to watch the flies, and instead focused on the fish, but the real trick was I counted in my head. The very first thing I do when I get to the water is toss my two fly rig in knee and thigh deep water and get a count of how long it takes for those flies to hit bottom. Today, with the combo I had it was a five count. I watched the fish, and counted in my head and as I thought "five" the fish's tail sped up...just a tiny bit but knowing my flies had hit the bottom at that moment was enough. I set the hook and a few minutes later slid this beauty into the net.
It isn't talked about much but knowing your flies sink rate is crucial. In an ideal world you could always see your fly, but normally I can only see where they were during the drag, and I lose them on the drop. When that happens, focus on the fish, but count the flies down. On the big C carp will often reach up and take a sinking hybrid, but that take is easy to detect. The body position changes drastically and a white mouth flashes brightly. The eat once the flies are on the bottom is a lot harder to detect. It sure helps to know the exact moment your fly hits the bottom, as that is often the trigger for a clam eating Columbia river carp.
Early season out here is a crap shoot. If the sun is out for a few days in a row, the fish react well and you can have a great day. A little rain, clouds, or cold weather and you may as well stay home. Today looked good. Lots of consecutive sun, and I knew the ponds would be hot with active fish milling around. I started out in the am chasing pond fish, but that really isn't my favorite. After catching a few I decided to gamble and try an area of the river that sometimes heats up early. Well, it was hot!
I walked about a mile without seeing a fish, but then I stumbled onto one...then two. A few minutes later I had seen 5 and while I was still fish less on the river, I knew I had a good chance. The first fish I hooked weighed 18 lbs, and then I found the mother load. A massive pile of fish had tucked into one stretch of river (it was notably warmer). I snuck through the river on the deep side, staying in the cold water and trying to pick out the biggest fish in the pile. That strategy worked. I could have caught more fish, but by being choosy, I caught all kinds of quality fish. I ended up with around a dozen or so carp, 4 really big ones at 20, 21, 22, and 24 lbs! All the fish ate the hybrid, with most of them eating on the drop. Only a couple were really tailing, but a well placed fly would get one of the sleeping fish to simply follow it down and when the mouth flashed white I would set the hook. Great first day on the river!
I love it when they give you the fin.
I won't get out for a few weeks, but the water needs some more time anyway. All told I walked about 2 miles and all the fish were in a 100 yard area that had a nice temp difference. Overall, the river was pretty cold (46 degrees). Another couple of weeks when the temps get into the mid 50s and it is going to be red hot! Pray for more sun!