Monday, December 18, 2006

Darby took this great shot of Elia the other day. We spent the morning with Darby and Eric and Elia had a great time playing with her aunt and uncle. She is a lot of fun, and way too smart. I'm so proud of both my kids! JJ is quite the
chatterbox too, and spends most of his time laughing at Elia, Kelly, Panga or me!

It has been a few weeks since my last post, just a lot going on at the office and home. Unfortunately, very little fishing. I did get out with Elia once, and saw no carp at any of my go to spots. It will be tough until spring on the carping front. I'll probably spend a day fishing this weekend, and take out the new FJ. I managed to sell the Outback Wednesday, and my FJ showed up Friday! Pretty good timing. So far I love the vehicle, and can't wait to get it out in some fishing situations!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The annual ACC/Big 10 challenge came to an end tonight, with the ACC dominating for the 8th straight year. The final tally was 8 games to 3...that's right, 3 wins for the mighty Big 10. Despite the total dominance by the ACC, I think this year's National Champion will come from the Big 10. I watched the entire UNC/OSU game tonight, and the Buckeyes are for real. They have great athleticism and guard play and they are absolutely fearless. They attack the basket, shoot the three and in general fly all over the floor with reckless abandon. Really a fun team to watch, and on a neutral floor this game could have gone either way. The kicker...Greg Oden is still on the sidelines for OSU. Once Oden gets back OSU is a real threat. Oden is a special interior player and will dominate games defensively. His offense might not be there but after what I saw tonight offense won't be a problem for OSU. Watch out for the Buckeyes.

Is there a better way to watch a great basketball game than with both your son and daughter? While JJ doesn't seem to care whether Duke or Gonzaga is playing, Elia has taken to watching basketball with her dad. She intently watches the game and adds commentary such as "the men in red are running" or "they missed!" Every now and then she even points at the screen and says "they dribble, " but the highlight came in the Duke/Indiana game last night. Early in the game Demarcus Nelson of Duke nailed a three from the corner. I pumped my fist in celebration and Elia saw that, stood up, raised both hands and yelled "Yeah!"

I love being a dad.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

For all my friends in MN, home of the mighty Big Ten...did you happen to notice this score?

University of MT 72

University of MN 65

Andrew Strait led the way for the Grizzlies with 17 points while Brian Ellis added 10 assists. The Gophers are now 2-4, even losing to Marist. So much for the power conferences.

Carp fishing at its finest during the warmer months is an excercise in stealth, presentation and most importantly, observation. You can be as stealthy as a kingfisher and present the fly as accurately as Lefty Kreh, but if you don't focus on and observe the changes in the fish in relation to your fly, you'll go home without so much as a hook up most of the time. Fortunately, when the waters are warm you can expect plenty of opportunity to have these three items come together to meet an active, hungry fish. In November, when the waters cool the challenges don't change too much, but new ones are created. First, the water is usually much less clear here in the PNW where continuous rain through the winter months causes most of our waters to be discolored. Second, the cooler water slows the carp down and the sheer number of active fish is considerably less. In other words, you better make the most of your opportunities!

I spent a couple of hour Saturday with KB trying our luck at two of our go to spots. The sun was out off and on, and it was as warm as it had been for several days, but our expectations were still fairly low. At our first stop we saw thick chocolate milk, with only a few inches of visibility. Undaunted, we proceeded around the pond with KB in the lead. We carefully stalked the shoreline knowning that our only chance was to spot a fish in the margins where we could see him. 4 ft off the bank the water was impossible to see into.

I spotted a fish quickly. Not a large carp, but his head was really light in color so I was able to make him out as he moved from deeper water into the shallows, slowly picking his way along with his nose dipping to the bottom to feed. I made a short cast and quickly pulled the fly back a foot or two so that it sank slowly, about 12 inches in front of the fish. I expected the fish to continue forward and my plan was to twitch the fly when he got right on top of it, but to my surprise the fish spotted the fly while it sank and quickly closed the gap, pausing right where the fly should have touched bottom. No gills flared, no tail twitched, but I knew that fish had the fly and set the hook. Immediately the rod bent with the weight of the small carp. The fight didn't last long, even on my 4wt sage as the cool water has the fish pretty lethargic. I scaled the skinny little fish out at 3.5 lbs, KB took a quick picture and we released the fish despite the onlookers saying "Keep him! Eat him!" KB and I got a chuckle out of that.

We continued around the pond and KB stopped to change flies and work a mud cloud that was likely a carp in a little deeper water. I spotted a fish circling under a willow tree and poked my rod with about a foot of tippet out of the top guide through the branches, but I just couldn't get the fly into position. We checked another spot and I had a similar chance at a fish feeding in the shallows. Again, I reeled up all the line except about two feet of tippet and snuck my rod through an opening in the bushes. This time the fish was within reach and I gently set the fly down next to his head. The fish quickly turned and flared his gills and I attempted to set the hook, only to bang my rod on a branch before I could bring the line tight. I have no idea what I would have done with the carp had I actually hooked him, but it was a thrilling moment regardless.

KB and I hit one more spot but the cool, muddy water was really limiting our chances. At this point, the only fish Kim had actually seen was the one I landed. As we came around a patch of brush we saw a familiar orange color in the water. Sure enough Highway Cone was cruising the margins. KB ran to get ahead of him and I settled in to look for any fish following HC. I did get one cast at a big carp, but no take. I just couldn't see well enough to spot anything else. KB returned a few minutes later. He had crouched into position and seen HC moving toward him through the brush. Every few feet HC dipped his head to eat. Kim said he made a good cast, and when HC came into position he twitched the fly. That big orange head turned, spotted the fly and HC immediately spooked for deep water. Tough fish to fool.

All in all a great day. No carp in November for KB, but a fun two hours of fishing. If we can have action like that throughout the winter I'd be satisfied!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Huge win by Gonzaga last night! The mighty (and hated) Tar Heels of North Carolina with their 12 man rotation and multiple 5 star recruits went down to the scrappy Zags in a really entertaining game. A few thoughts:

Hansbrough is a beast, but Coach Few completely took him out of the game. Is there a doubt Few can gameplan?

Free throws...For all the whining that INSTANTLY pops up when Duke takes makes more free throws than their opponents attempt (see BC and FSU last year and the subsequent media response) the Tar Heels had shot 32 free throws to 7 for Gonzaga up until the point where they tried fouling to extend the game. 32 to 7 and I nothing will be said, but Carolina fans will scream if Duke has a similar discrepancy this year. I found that rather funny.

Gonzaga is a real team this year, and they are missing three guys that could have real impacts in Downs, Burgess and Theo.

This team is just easy to cheer for.

One more note, check out La Revolucion (I just added a link on the sidebar.) Good stuff from another Zag fan.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Just a week ago (actually Saturday, November 4th) Elia and I headed to the mall to do some shopping for Kelly. With her help I picked out a nice sweater for Kelly and a camisole to go underneath (Kelly looks really good in it too!) On the way home I decided to swing by a go to carp spot and just take a peek at the water. It had been raining hard for days, and I knew water levels were up beyond belief everywhere. This is a man made and contained pond, but with all that water, it had to be up. We pulled up to the pond and the water was indeed flooding the sidewalk in some spots, and the rain was still coming down hard. Sitting in the car Elia spotted some geese and wanted to go look at them, so we put on coats and hats and stepped out into the deluge. I hadn't walked 10 ft down the bank (with Elia happily splashing along at my side) when I spotted a nice carp feeding right up against the edge. The water was solid mud, but the fish was in so shallow he was easy to spot. I grabbed Elia and ran back to the car to rig up the 4 wt. We carefully walked back into position and I dropped a hares ear to the rooting carp from a rod length away. The hungry fish pounced on the fly and the reel began to sing! Since Elia wasn't in the backpack I quickly knelt down and handed her the flyrod. Her eyes lit up and she nearly dropped the rod as the fish made a strong run. I had to rest the rod on my finger about 6 inches up from the grip to keep it upright, but other than that she held on with both hands and did really well! When the carp quit running I reeled with one hand and Elia kept pulling on the rod, laughing and smiling each time the carp would make another shake or short run. After a few minutes of smiles from Elia we got the carp close to the bank. I looked at Elia and asked if I could have the rod to land the fish. "No, No..." she cried and quickly pulled the rod to her shoulder and started running down the bank! With a nice carp still attached she couldn't get far and I manage to grab the rod and land the fish. She smiled and touched the nice 7 lb carp and said "Elia caught fish!"

When we got home she ran into Kelly to tell her all about it. Hopefully the first of many for Elia, and certainly one of my best ever days of fishing.

I have not had much time for fishing lately, but I've been having a good time around the house. Here is a shot of Elia at 8 months and at 22 months. She it getting heavy, but still loves to fly! JJ is getting bigger by the minute, and is wearing some of the clothes that Elia wore when she was 1! More pics of the kids to follow, we have been having fires in the evening, and Elia is ready for me to start one tonight!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

It was good to be back in MT, and also unmistakable that I was home. There is just something about is a special place. My dad and I had planned on fishing the reservation lakes for big bows, but a winter blizzard came out of the mountains and dumped something like 18 inches of snow on the plains, so we changed plans and fished this beautiful river near Libby. It was the first snow of the year, and first real cold spell. The fish knew it. Despite perfect looking water the fishing was tough. My dad landed the first trout of the day, a beautiful 14 inch wild as they get! Unfortunately it was the only fish he landed, though did connect with several more throughout the day. I ended up landing 3 trout and seven fat whitefish, and hooked 5 or 6 more fish as well. If we could find a nice looking slot in the sunshine, we hooked fish. The trout were perfect specimens, just amazing creatures but I couldn't get a good picture of one. We fished in the snow and cold, and had an outstanding day. I spent a lot of time just looking up into the mountains and ignoring my flies completely. The setting was such that the result was of no consequence. As always, it was great to fish with my dad, and being at home in MT surrounded by the mountain I love was all I could ask for on this trip.

Great trip to MT! It was wonderful to see my dad and mom spend time with both Elia and JJ. After having a second kid, I realize that my mother truly was a saint. She had 4 kids under 5 years old, two of them in full body casts (Dani and Darby were born without hip sockets) and my dad was usually on a train. And to think that at times I feel like Elia and JJ are a handful! We also spent time with Dani, Josh and Tanner. Elia loved Dani and they had a great time together. Tanner is full of energy, and I think he gets most of it from his mom! I wish we got to spend more time in Whitefish, there were a lot of special moments with the kids and my parents.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Mgamby posted this great video on Westfly.

Aside from the sketchy narration...pretty good stuff!

I'm hoping to trade Mike for a trip to some of his precious (and beautiful) trout water in exchange for the chance to hook a carp or two. Should be fun!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A good picture of Justin prospecting for steelhead on his first trip to OR. I was looking through some old pictures with Elia today, and just really liked this shot.

Monday, October 23, 2006

My kids amaze me everyday. Whether it is little JJ smiling and lifting his arms in the air, or Elia wanting to be put to bed not with one of her many stuffed animals, but instead with a book, they never cease to put a smile on my face at the end of a long day. JJ is on the verge of rolling over, and for some reason he loves to have his face and cheeks wiped. He instantly lights up and smiles if you just stroke his cheek with a finger.

Elia did two incredible things yesterday for such a young little girl. We had taken the kids to go look at pumpkins and animals at a local farm, and there was a big sign set up on the grass with arrows and words pointing "Animals" this way and "Exit" that way. Elia walked up to the sign, pointed at the A in Animals and said "Letter A." It was really surprising as we have not talked to Elia at all about the alphabet, she just seems to pick things up when we aren't even looking. Another example occurred when I pulled into the driveway from the park. I reached in to unbuckle Elia and she was holding a stuffed cow covered in black spots. She carefully pointed at one spot at at time and said "thirty seven, thirty eight, thirty nine...forty!"

I wish I could still learn that quickly.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

What do you do in Oregon when the carp aren't biting? You fish for Salmon! Well, I'm pretty sure I could have caught carp today, but I finally gave in and fished for something other than carp. I had a great day chasing Coho with my friend Patrick. He only fished a few hours and hooked up with one, but it was a beautiful day to be on the river. There were fish all over the river. Patrick left before they got really active, but he still hooked up once. I fished from 12 to about 5pm, not exactly prime time hours for Salmon, but someone forgot to tell the fish. I ended up hooking somewhere between 15-18 fish, and landed 10 total. One of the 10 was a jack though, and another was a huge chinook in the 20 lb range. Frankly, it wasn't much fun to catch. That fish was just too big and slow, and it was a long tug of war with little excitement to it. Really neat to see a fish like that up close though.
My goal for the day was actually to catch a big old hook jawed male. I've just always wanted a picture of one all colored up like they get. I finally did hook one today, and fought him up and down the river. I was fishing above some rapids, and every fish seemed to run in and out of the boulders, making me run around like an idiot trying to hang onto them. I lost a bunch of fish in those boulders, but held onto enough to make it fun! It really was a great day, and it was fun to fish water that moves that fast! I'll be back to the carp in no time though. Despite landing 10 really nice fish, I didn't get to see my backing today!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Really good stuff from The Trout Underground. I for one believe that stealth is even more important when fishing for carp than trout!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I took Elia out in the backpack on Saturday. Conditions were poor, but what the heck. Water was way higher than the last time I hit this pond, and the visibility was about 3 inches. The water was so high that all the spots I normally see feeding fish revealed nothing...nothing that I could see anyway. The good news was that the high water had turned a normally dry mud bank into a 2 foot deep perfect flat, but again, the visibility killed me. I snuck around the edges, and hooked two fish by spotting their bubble trails. Both fish were hooked on a mega-prince nymph with rubber legs. The first fish was this little 4-5 lber.

The second fish felt better, but popped off quickly...I was fishing primarily by feel (casting at the bubbles) and I think I was late with the hook set. I did see one nice fish that was so tight to the bank that I had a good view of him. He turned on my fly from a rod length away and i set the hook, but he wasnt' there. So it goes!

Getting tougher with the cooler water...I may have to put up the Carp rod and actually chase some steelhead, trout or salmon!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A good rule of thumb is that you can't catch fish if you stay at home. While that is true, when your target is carp there are times when it might be best to stay at home. Today, I ventured out despite my instincts. Elia woke up from her nap, I got her dressed and asked "do you want to go fishing with dad?" If I needed proof that she is already smarter than me I now have it. She looked at the window as it was pelted with sideways rain and said "No, stay home with momma." Smart little girl.

Undaunted, I headed out hoping that the visibility would allow me to sneak right up on any fish foolish enough to be feeding on the bank in this nasty weather. As I headed up the freeway I snapped a shot of the conditions. Not exactly ideal carping weather.

The lake was covered in rain when I arrived, and visibility was indeed, terrible. I moved up the bank slowly, and my pace eventually paid off as I found a pod of fish working the bank. All I could see was mud and the occasional tail, but it was more than enough to get my blood going, which helped warm me up considerably. I crept along and dropped fly after fly into the fray. Finally, as I jigged one fly near a tail I saw a mouth swoop up after the fly and make one, two, three quick attempts at sucking it in as it rose in the water column. I clearly saw the fish trying to eat, but simply could not stop my arm from continuing to lift the fly! After three attempts the fish remembered that it was a carp, and with a non chalant attitude it dropped back to the bottom as if saying: "I'm not working that hard for my food."

Fortunately I did end up hooking two fish. Both fish were in the low to mid teens and made great runs. In the murky water the takes were merely a feeling of the line stopping, and I didn't end up landing either fish. The first fish ran about 80 ft into my backing and buried me in a massive matt of weeds on the other side of the lake. I reeled in about 25 lbs of weeds, and broke my fly off trying to haul the weeds onto shore so I could dig through them for my fly. The second fish made a great run as well, and I was able to capture some of it on video. It was fun to video tape the screaming reel, but I think it cost me the fish as it got off shortly after I got serious.

All in all a nice afternoon. WT once said you cannot underestimate the importance of direct sunlight when carp fishing. He is right on, but sometimes you just have to get out and make things come together.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

My dad and I had planned to spend Friday chasing Coho Salmon on a local river. One look at the weather report added to sheer addiction of carp on the flats and we changes out plans in a heartbeat. We got up Friday morning and headed for the Columbia River in search of big carp.

My dad has caught a few carp, but our destination was the big leagues of carping, previously he had only fished in the minors.

Our first stop did a great job of getting him excited. We saw several fish in the teens feeding on the flats, but they were extremely spooky, and we just couldn't get any flies to them without sending the targeted fish rocketing out of the shallow water. Still, it gave my dad a chance to see some nice fish and to get a taste of the required stealth and casting accuracy.

Our next locale proved much more successful. We stalked the flats like herons, pausing to squint into the glare before each footfall. We managed to sneak up on several fish, and my dad hooked several, but just couldn't seem to hang onto them. I fished as well, and managed to land four fish, all in the 6-8 lb range. As we walked back out later that day my dad was treated to the sight of 2 big grass carp cruising along 200 ft away. One was a true monster. We also spotted one massive common I would put in the 30 lb range, but by the time we got into position to make a cast, the fish was onto us and moved away. Dad had plenty of opportunities and despite not landing a carp, he was excited about the day. In a lot of ways he and I are alike...We are both as much hunters as fisherman. I put away the rifle and bow, but still love to hunt and carping gives me a great outlet. The highlight of the day for me was taking a video as my dad made a great 45-50 ft cast to a big carp. The fish turned on the fly and my dad set the hook just a split second late. He was rewarded with a big boil as the fish narrowly escaped. It made for a great video!

Always good to fish with my dad!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Now you all know I am a die hard carp on the fly guy, but I have to admit that every year at this time, I am tempted to join the throngs and crowds and chase a few silver salmon. Fishing for Coho is actually pretty easy. Just find some fast water, park yourself at any pocket or break in the middle of the fast run and nymph the heck out of it with an 8 wt and two fly rig until the coho decide to move upriver. When they move, you can see them coming, leaping through the whitewater below. Invariably, they pause for breath and a rest, and if you chose the right pocket and they stop in yours, they usually aggressively smack that fly and the fight is on! While few things can compare to the power of a carp on the fly, a large coho salmon hooked right at your feet in the midst of a whitewater rapid does a pretty good imitation! They run like crazy, and seem to switch direction more than most fish. I've had coho actually beach themselves in a mad and desperate attempt to get free of the hook. Well, the time is upon us here in OR. My dad is currently making his way to my place from MT (he stopped and fished the venerable Deschutes river today) and I am frantically tying flies in preparation. Friday we'll be on the river before dawn and hopefully be in the midst of leaping, rolling salmon all morning.
And of course, if the salmon aren't in I can always go show my dad Highway Cone!
Wish us luck!

Monday, September 25, 2006

I spent Thursday and Friday in a conference room at the Sawgrass Resort in Jacksonville, FL. We spent two days discussing our successes and challenges as a company this year, and making plans for next year. As usual, the discussions were fruitful, and the meetings went well. We got ahead of schedule, and actually didn't have to meet on Saturday morning, so I was thankful that I had carried my 7 wt with me to Jacksonville.

I woke up Saturday morning around 8, had a long breakfast and then grabbed my rod, reel, and flies and walked out the front door of the resort. I was planning on spending the afternoon with one of the guy's from the Jacksonville office and someone from our corporate office in Atlanta, but I had at least a couple of hours to kill before meeting up with Kip and Jonathan. I walked down the long driveway along the hotel pond and eyed the water seriously. I did see a few panfish, but nothing to indicate any carp, so I keep walking. I crossed a busy road and headed toward a shopping complex, and spotted another big pond. As I walked around this pond I spotted a small alligator swimming out in the middle. Again, no carp but lots of panfish, and also a few signs posting the pond as no fishing.

I continued on, and crossed another road to get to a pond in front of a big grocery store. Here I hit the jackpot. As soon as I walked up to the pond I spotted two feeding carp near the shore. I dropped to all fours and crawled up to discover that not only were they large carp in the mid teens, they were grass carp! I watched them eat for a few minutes. They would move right up to the bank and grab a big mouthful of the weeds embedded in the shoreline, about as much as you or I could grab with our fist. With the weeds clamped into their mouths, the carp would then shake back and forth while slowly swimming backwards to rip the vegetation loose, then slurp it up like a mouthful of spaghetti. Really interesting, but it looked tough to mimic with a fly!

Nevertheless, I got into position. For the next hour I realized that grass carp are indeed the spookiest fish I've ever seen. If I coughed, they spooked. If I stood up, they spooked. If I slipped, they spooked. If I false cast more than once, they spooked. I ended up literally crawling around the pond while the cars on A1A honked and pointed, hunting these grass carp. I managed to get the fly in front of plenty of fish, but almost the second the fly touched down, most would spook. It was pretty frustrating.

Finally, I got close enough to a fish to literally set the fly softly into the water next to his head. As the mohair leech slowly sunk, the big fish turned slightly and inhaled it. I quickly set the hook and the fight was on! Sort of...

The fish made a short run, then came in like a log (even worse than a northern pike!) I reached down to try to tail him, and then things got interesting. The grasser sensed me coming and bolted for deep water, making two long runs that almost touched my backing. I eventually got the fish in under control, and landed him by tailing him and getting my other hand under his belly. What an interesting fish! It is clearly built for eating, and makes me think of a freshwater cow. The mouth had some roughness inside, but no teeth at all, and the entire fish was stiff and strong, not much softness even in the belly. I'm guessing this carp weighed about 14-15 lbs, but I did not have my scale, and it was such a foreign species to me that I couldn't be sure. It felt heavy, but I haven't seen enough of them to really know.

So I have now added grass carp to the list! I would love to catch a few more, but with the fish being illegal to chase in both OR and WA, it might be a while before the opportunity presents itself. Always good to justify carrying the fly rod on a plane though!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I learned something today in a short carp session. There is a large difference between trying to be stealthy, and being stealthy. The trouble is, only the carp seem to know the difference.

I found myself fishing mostly on my hands and knees this afternoon. The fish (and these were big boys) were feeding against the bank, and the only way to get a fly to them without putting line across their backs was to belly crawl up to them and careful get on one knee in the brush and dropped the fly in like food from heaven. This worked exactly 4 times, and while it was thrilling to hook fish with all my flyline still inside my guides, I didn't land a single fish. At first I was merely crouching to approach them, and invariably I would spook the intended target and promptly watch 6-8 other carp forms (that I hadn't even noticed) blast from the shallows in a general stampede. The delayed reaction was the best part. The first fish would spook and blast through the pod and as a group the remaining fish would startle, and then bolt for deep water. Pretty fun to watch, but it would have been better had I landed something!

The first fish I hooked was sheer fortune. I had just spooked a pod by apparently failing to be at or below sea level as I moved, and was sitting on the bank looking through my flies for several minutes, searching for a pattern they hadn't seen before. After a few minutes and the realization that I hadn't tied flies in a LONG TIME I noticed a nice fish moving in from the depths. Actually a big fish. As it got closer I realized two things. One, it was going to stop and feed against the bank, not 3 ft from me. And two, it was a big mirror. This fish was easily in the mid teens, and would be the biggest mirror I've caught by at least 5 or 6 lbs. I pried myself away from thoughts of big mirror carp and great photos for the blog and and gently flipped a little crayfish pattern into the path of the oncoming mirror. The big fish paused when it reached the fly, I popped the rod tip and saw his head dip down and I set the hook quickly. The fly line ripped through my guides in starts and stops and I prayed the tippet would hold. It did momentarily, and I got to my feet to begin playing the fish. I had no control over the big mirror and he zig and zagged through patches of dead and dying weeds, and in short order had a massive amount of salad attached to the flyling and leader. The drag of all those weeds proved too much and the tippet parted. I had so much junk on the line I didn't realize the fish was gone for several seconds.

I quickly sat down and rerigged with heavier tippet (back to 1X!) and then continued down the bank, pretty much spending the entire time on my belly. Fish #2 was feeding tight to the bank, and he took my crayfish pattern (the green one) with such confidence that I almost felt bad...almost. I jumped to my feet with renewed energy, knowing my 1X tippet would do the job this time. It did, but the hook didn't The fish quickly got off and I reeled in a completely straightened crayfish pattern.

On to fish #3, again with the green crayfish pattern, same size and hook equaling predictable results. I hooked the 3rd fish easily enough, and he straightened that hook easily enough as well.
I do learn, although slowly. I went up a size on the crayfish pattern, tied on a size 8 salmon hook this time, and began hunting for fish #4. As active as the fish were, it didn't take long to find him. Once again on my belly I got within a rod length of the fish, another good one (none of the fish I cast at were less than 10-12 lbs, with the big mirror being the largest). I dropped the crayfish fly just out of range, and hopped it toward him. He turned his head slightly and inhaled the fly from about 8 inches out. As soon as I set the hook the fish blasted out of the bay and into deeper water, and quickly began boring into every weedbed he could find. I held him as tight as I could but the powerful fish kept ripping the line from my fingers and gaining distance. Soon enough he was buried in weeds, and somehow managed to slip the barbless hook. So ended the dance with fish #4.

I spent a few more minutes looking around, but I was pretty satisfied and thinking about Elia at home waking up from her nap and ready to have some fun. I broke down the rod and headed for the car. It was a good day.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

I can't help but feeling like we are almost out of time here on the west coast. Carping is getting tougher daily, as the weather cools and the fish get more sluggish. This morning was cool, overcast, even a bit foggy. Elia and I headed out to the only spot that I KNEW we would see fish, and met my friend David out there. David walked up as I was fighting my first (and last) fish of the day, a little 5 lber that pounced on a maroon hairs ear dropped in amongst the rocks. I had spotted the fish working in and out of some good sized rocks, and got him to take on the first cast. Just a few minutes later David made a great presentation to another tailer, and the fish actually came up through the water column to take his black fly. His results are pictured here! Elia didn't want to be in the backpack today, so I quit fishing and just walked along with David. We did spot a few more great fish in really good spots, but they simply wouldn't eat. It was good to get out with David, I hadn't seen him in a while, and he has truly turned into a carp nut! I met David by chance on his first foray into carping, and we spent the day together talking fish and having a good time. Since then, he has become an expert on OR carp, and joins the limited ranks of the few of us crazy enough to chase these fish while others are out standing in a river swinging flies and waiting for a steelhead to hook itself! I say that now, but Coho season is here, and hopefully soon I'll have some nice salmon pictures to put up on the blog.

Thanks again David!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

W. B. Yeats:

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I got an email from a friend of mine today who was reading the article I wrote for the American Carper. She mentioned how big many of the fish in those pictures were. Courtesy of, check this out Karen:

The world record common carp, over 76 lbs.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I did get out twice this weekend for some carp. Saturday afternoon Kelly, Elia, JJ and I hit a local spot and Elia got to "pet" a 5 lb carp. We mainly just walked and played with the geese, but I did manage one fish, and Elia enjoyed touching and "hugging" it! So for the record...JJ saw his first fish at 6 weeks old.

Got blanked today in 2 hours. Saw some nice fish, but no takers.
I recently wrote an article for The American Carper. Check out the september issue here:

The article starts on page 31.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

There are some advantage when fishing with KB. One, he is an easy guy to fish with. He knows what he is doing, and is just a fun guy to be around. Two, he brings LOTS of water. Three, he happens to be a professional photographer...Every now and then that comes in handy!We had a spectacular day today chasing carp. The water was low, which made the fish ultra spooky, but making each fish more difficult just made it that much more rewarding when you did manage to hook up, and hook up with did. KB hooked 8 or 9 carp, landing 3 or 4, and I hooked about 15 carp, landing 9. The big fish of the day was a 22 lb beast that I took after creeping down the bank like a Ninja and dropping a big prince nymph on his head. The big boy was so intent on feeding, that I could barely see the fish, but I did see his tail push him forward and felt a tiny bit of weight on my line. I thought to myself, "weed." Than I strip set anyway and the fight was on! This fish had me wondering if I had enough backing as his first knuckle-breaking run had me staring in disbelief at my reel. After what seemed like an eternity I managed to bring him back to shore, and then KB performed one of the best net jobs I've ever seen. He sort of scooped the fish's head into the net, and then move the net from side to side to get each pectoral fin in there! It was quite the sight watching him squeeze this huge fish into my tiny net. One of these days I really will get a bigger net!Lots of great memories and moments from today for both of us. My best take was simple. I dropped my fly in on a fish feeding in some weeds, and saw the fly sink to the level of the fish. The fish didn't move an inch, and I thought to myself, "He either already ate it, or he's not going to, " and I quickly lifted the rod and it bent over as the fish blasted out of the shallows. We had the great fortune or running into Paul Huffman as well. I have been meaning to fish with Paul and it was a pleasure to spend some time with him and watch the inventor of the Carp Wooley at work!All in all a great day, with good company and good fishing. As Mr. P says, "the take is the premier moment," and today was all about that split second when it all comes together.

What a great day on the water! KB and I hit our favorite carp hole, and conditions were pretty good. Visibilty was tough at times, and the numbers of fish are down a bit as the nights get colder, but we still had plenty of targets for our flies, and as you can see from the picture, we even had some success. I'll get a detailed report up soon, but as for numbers, KB laned 3, hooked around 8 or so. I landed 9, and hooked about 15 or so. Most of the fish were in the 6-8 lb range, with at least one fish that reached 9 lbs, and one monster fish that scaled out at 22 lbs. We saw some backing and tested some knots today!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I got out this morning for a couple of hours with Elia in the backpack. She is getting awfully big to haul around in that thing, but she sure loves to go fishing!

We hit another local spot I had fished a while back, and revisted briefly with KB last weekend. KB nailed a great 11lb fish. I got blanked last time, but saw some nice fish.

Today the conditions were actually worse. The water was even murkier, but if you kept your eyes peeled you could see mud clouds, bubbles, and occasionally the body of a fish. This place has some big fish in it, and today I got a crack at what might be the biggest in the pond.

I was walking down the bank and noticed that the massive matt of lilly pads was being moved aside as a fish swam right through the middle of them. I follwed the movement down the bank and got a great look at the fish when the lilly pads thinned out. It was a BIG carp. I mean really big. I sped up and got ahead of him and continued to watch his progress by keeping an eye on the moving lily pads. He eventually got to the end of the pads and i saw his huge head kind of peek out into open water. He paused there for a minute, looked both ways like he was about to cross traffic, then slowly eased out into the open. there was maybe 10 feet before he would hit the next batch of lily pads, so I let him get about 2-3 feet out before I made the cast. I thought that if I actually hooked him he would run forward, and I would have a chance of stopping him.

My first cast with the mohair leech was a good one. about 3 feet beyond him and 2 feet ahead. I made one quick strip and then two slow strips and clearly saw his huge mouth open and close, so I made what was probably the best strip-set I've ever made (former trout guys tend to struggle with the strip set.) The big carp exploded immediately and water went everywhere! The lake here is pretty deep, at least 6 feet but he was high in the column. I bent the 7 wt over double and tried to turn him toward the shore, but he had none of it and turned with a fury toward the lily pads from which he had just appeared. I was only fishing 3x (DUMB!) and put as much pressure as I dared, but it wasn't enough and he got into the sparse pads on the outside. He kept digging in, looking for the really thick ones, so I increased the pressure and POP! He was gone.

I called KB to tell him that I just lost the biggest carp I have ever hooked, then changed to a 2x leader (biggest I had) and kept fishing. I did get another good shot at a fish and manged to hook him. He made a great run in some open water and then turned for more lilly pads. This fish was in the 10-12 lb class (he was 8 ft away when I hooked him, I got a great look at him) and I though the 2x would hold up but I put too much pressure on him and broke that guy off as well!

So this afternoon Elia and I hit the fly shop, picked up the biggest leader I've ever fish...a 15 lb cord that I'm hoping will hold up to the big strong fish in this spot. I want my flies back, and tomorrow morning Elia and I are going looking for them.

Good pic of the kids from tonight. Elia loves to hold JJ, she will be a great big sister. JJ is doing typical baby stuff right now, but his neck is really strong! He holds his head up and looks all around, he even tries to stand if you hold him in a sitting position. As usual, it has been challenging but Kelly is an all-star and things get easier daily.
Yes, that is underwear. She thinks itlooks good on her head.

Big news on the kid front. Elia has now peed in her little potty in the downstairs bathroom 7-8 times in the last 3 days. On most occasions, she told us she needed to use the potty! She is a long way from being potty trained, but some positive steps forward!

Still have a ways to go with JJ though!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Interesting discussion on CAG about Grass Carp. In OR and WA it is stated in the regs that you cannot target grass carp. Where does that put the fly fisherman who sight fishes for carp? I fish 100% catch and release for carp, but it is easy to identify grassers, so to cast to one you are targeting the fish. Now, I have been targeting a specific common only to have a different (sometimes bigger!) fish hammer the fly, but it would be like the perfect storm to accidentally catch a grass carp on the fly. Tough call here...I would love to catch one, but don't have the opportunity to even fish for them according to the regulations. If the grassers are naturally reproducing does this change things?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

My last carp outing, while short in time, had a strong result. Four fish in 90 minutes, including a beautiful mirror. I got a chance to get out this weekend as well though not for an extended period of time. The results were much more frustrating. In general, I saw quite a few feeding fish, but visibility was a problem everywhere. The water is really murky right now, so I spent a lot of time straining to see dark shapes in the middle of mud clouds or bubble streams. I hooked one nice fish while fishing blind to some bubbles, but didn't get a good strip set and lost him. I had a great shot at a really big mirror carp. The big fish was only 6 ft away, clearly a mirror, and easily in the mid to high teens in terms of weight. I put the fly right in front of him, he paused and then spooked. Looking back, the pause was probably a take. I could see his body clearly, but not his head and I think he sucked the fly in, spit it out and spooked. That was a great opportunity.

I hooked up twice more, both times with solid fish. The place KB and I were at seems to have bigger fish in general, and we both saw a few that were true monsters. I hooked a good fish only to have him break my 3x tippet on his first hard run, and then hooked another fish 5 minutes later only to have that fish dive into some weeds on the bottom. All I brought in that time was a fly full of muck!

I left and had barely hit the freeway when my cell phone rang. KB was releasing a beautiful 11 lb fish. He said it was golden orange, and just a perfect specimen. I think we have another spot to frequent, which is a good thing, but I will remember my missed opportunities from this weekend.

Photojoe from FAOL hooked me up with a sweet deal. He bought 100 bamboo flyrods and divided the costs up amongst a bunch of guys. I ended up with 15 rods, including a rebuilt banty that will be fun for panfish, about 8 "production" rods (south ben 359, HI lucky strike, some montagues, etc.) and 6 misc rods that look pretty good to me. Some really great stuff, none of which need a ton of work. Some are missing guides or tip tops, and one has a cracked reel seat but the cane looks good on all the rods. Thanks Joe!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Today Elia and I went fishing for the first time since JJ was born. We planned to spend the morning at my two favorite local spots, but Elia didn't really want to be in the backpack today, so we only fished for about an hour and a half, but it was a productive 90 minutes.

At our first stop I only saw one fish. It was 830, and the flat was still shaded, so it might have been a little too cool for the fish to be in feeding. We headed to my go to spot, knowing we would see some carp. I was fishing my 7 wt Albright, which is much bigger than I need for the small 3-6 lb fish in the pond we were heading too, but I haven't gotten to fish that rod much yet, and wanted to get a better feel for it.

The second stop was dissapointing as well. The water was really murky, and the fish were difficult to spot. We stalked carefully around the pond, with Elia breaking the silence now and again by yelling "HONK" at the geese as they swam by. After a few minutes I spotted a decent fish feeding right up against the bank. I dapped the fly about 4 inches from his nose, he eased over to it, then bolted out of there like I had poked him with a stick. I don't think he took, but he was close enough and the water murky enough that he could have taken the fly in, spit it, and spooked without me knowing it. I spotted another fish, and this time when he eased over to where the fly had sunk, I lifted the rod and the fight was on! This was a little 5 lb fish, but it still made a great run, nearly to my backing. I brought him back in and released him despite Elia's pleas of "hugs, hugs." She sure likes carp!

I headed to a third spot close by that has some really shallow water. Right away I spotted several fish feeding in about 1 foot of water. I crept in amongst the bushes and flipped the fly out bow and arrow style. A small 3 lb carp pounced on the fly like a cat after a mouse, and I quickly set the hook. In that shallow water with a big rod the fight doesn't last long, they just don't have enough depth to get going. I quickly released the little guy and moved down the bank.

After a few minutes Elia and I spotted another fish, this a bigger fish in the 5-6 lb range (big by the standards of this pond). I dropped the fly on him from about 15 feet away and clear as day he turned his head and flared his gills. Fish #3 was on the line! To my surprise, this was a beautiful mirror carp with an orange colored tail. Really neat fish, and even with Elia in the backpack I had to try to take some pictures. Easier said then done with a 30 lb girl trying to climb over your shoulder to "give kisses" to the mirror carp. I snapped some shots and let the fish go.

The fourth and final fish of the day was another small 3 lb fish, but a great take. I spotted a carp right up agains the bank, and leaned in over some bushes. The fish was only a rod length away so I just dropped the fly about 4 inches from his nose and let is slowly sink towards the bottom. When the fly was about 6 inches from the bottom, a second carp came from out of nowhere and crushed the fly like a linebacker taking out a wide reciever headed over the middle! Unfortunately, the carp that hit the fly was the smaller of the two fish (I had been aiming at the defensive end) but he still made a nice run and bent the rod over.

After that Elia and packed up and headed home to see Kelly and JJ. Another great outing with my daughter, and as soon as JJ is up for it, I'll try to show him a carp!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Mr. P does it again. In response to a thread about some difficult feeding carp Mr. P says this:

"In other parts of my life I have said and written that "Hope is the breath of the soul." Fishing, in particular fly fishing for Carp, would not touch our souls if we didn't have to fish sometimes with faith and hope in the face of discouragement. "

I really want to fish with this guy. I hope you read this thread Justin!

Monday, August 07, 2006

It has been a pretty uneventful couple of days, thanks in large part to Kelly's parent being in town to help out with everything. Kelly and I haven't had to worry about a lot of things with them around, and entertaining Elia has been much easier! JJ is a great little boy. He only cries when hungry or being changed, and is otherwise content to just check things out or sleep. He'll sit in your lap for an hour and watch you wiggle fingers and make faces. He is a quiet little boy so far. Elia is loving being a big sister thus far. She is always asking for JJ and likes to push him in his swing, hug and kiss him, and wants to watch every time JJ needs to be changed. Now, if we could just get Elia to do the changing! I think they will become good friends as they grow together, and it will be a privilege to watch.

When I got home from work today, Elia ran into the kitchen yelling "Daddy! Yeahhhh!!!!" It just killed me.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Just a quick note, Kelly is happy and doing well, and J.J. (John Joseph) is a happy little boy!

More later, but we are all thrilled to be together!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Tommorrow is the big day. Kelly and I head to the hospital in the morning, and will meet our son sometime tomorrow. We are both excited, and doing our best to be calm and "business as usual" for Elia's sake. It will be a big adjustment for all of us, but mostly for Elia who is used to dominating both of our time. She is a special little girl, and will be a wonderful big sister. I feel lucky to have 2 amazing women in my life. I'll update things here when I get a chance. Think good thoughts, I know Kelly will do another phenomenal job, and our son will be a welcome addition to the family!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I added a few links to the sidebar today. These are places that I check out frequently, and I probably should have put links up sooner but to be honest, I couldn't remember how! Problem solved tonight. Hopefully none of those guys mind me putting links up to their blogs, there is some really great stuff out there if you have time to look around a bit. Some of these guys are pretty close to Portland, and I hope to fish with them someday.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

After Elia went to be tonight I found myself looking through some old pictures and videos. I focussed mainly on this spring's trip to MN to fish with Justin, and on his trip here to OR this year. We took some great pictures and videos, and I am already excited for next spring. I'm not sure what that trip will bring, but Justin and I always have a good time fishing together. Here is a link to a video taken on the Deschutes river in OR while fishing the salmonfly hatch. I had crawled into position for this fish, and after about 3-4 fly changes (picky sucker...and we are talking salmonflies here) I finally got a take. Chris O'donnell, a friend and guide was taken Justin and i down the river, and he actually carried enough salmonfly variations to get this fish to eat. It was a fun 20 minutes of fishing, and watching the fish dart, swirl and refuse was almost as good as the take.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Not much going on in the way of carp on the fly for me. I've had several fishless weekends in a row. I went out yesterday to River City Flyshop and bought a sweet carp setup. As usual, the boys at River City were top notch to deal with, I highly recommend this shop to anyone in OR. I cast a bunch of rods including some G Loomis, TFO, and Echo rods (the Echo was far and away my 2nd favorite choice. Tim Rajeff is one of the world's best casters, and knows how to put together a fly rod.) I ended up falling in love with an Albright EXS 9 ft 7 wt. These rods are designed by the former owner or rod maker for Reddington who was apparently let go when Sage bought them out. It is a high end casting machine, and while a little faster than I normally prefer, it is so smooth it felt slow! I'm not sure how much sense that makes, but it will be a carping machine. I paired it with a GLoomis Venture 7 reel, which is undoubtedly the best fly reel for under $100, and a silky smooth airflo line that is a nice peach color. I took the rod out with Elia this morning, and last night with Panga but didn't get much opportunity to put it through its paces. I also spent an hour at a local lake casting as some big carp today while Elia napped, but couldn't seem to hook up. I can tell that I am really going to like this rod from a casting standpoint and I'm anxious to see how it does with a fish on the end of it!

This place will likely be quiet for a while. Kelly's due date is July 31, so I'll be meeting my son soon. I don't know which I'm more excited for...meeting my son, or introducing him to Elia. She is such a loving little girl that I know she'll be a wonderful big sister.