Saturday, April 22, 2006

It's not every day that a guy sets out to catch a 20 some pound orange koi on a fly wasn't today either. I woke up this morning happy to know that I had an entire day planned at one of my favorite carp lakes. Of course, plans don't always hold up, and today mine didn't. I arrived at the lake and while the sun was out and the wind calm, the water level was so high that I just couldn't see the fish. They were there, but hard to target, and even harder to reach due to the depth of the water. After nearly swamping my waders a few times I managed to hook a couple of fish, and landed one of them, a nice carp of about 15 lbs. It was fish like this that I had come for, but the tough conditions quickly chased me home.

After some debate, I decided to go look for Highway Cone. I hadn't gotten serious about throwing flies at him in a while, and had been hammering his buddies, so at the least I figured I would chase him around, and then try to catch some of his friends. Armed with a fly I tied up just for Highway Cone, I zipped back to Portland.

As soon as I got there I spotted my adversary...that doesn't say much as he is pretty hard to miss! I stalked along the bank about 3o feet behind him, hoping he would turn and head towards me. I had learned long ago to forget about casting to him from behind. The fly line traveling over his head would immediately spook him. Eventually he worked his way into a little bay, with me not far behind. I set up shop and took a moment to put on the special fly I had tied...I had seen Highway Cone in this bay a few times, and I knew he would circle back toward me, hopefully on the feed.

Twenty minutes later, he did just that. I stood in a semi-crouch hidden by some bushes as he worked slowly towards me, and for the first time, he really seemed to be actively eating. Unfortunately, he seemed to be actively eating the algae blooms in the water...something I didn't think I could imitate at that moment. I prepared to cast anyway, and when he got about 15 feet out I flipped the fly into his path. As usual, he moved right past it. I tried a second, then third cast with the same result. By this time he was only a few feet away from me, and was beginning to turn with the bay's contours and start back on his circuit. I made one final cast and managed to put the fly about 10 inches in front and 2-3 inches to his left. Highway Cone eased forward, then slowly, his huge head turned in the general direction of my fly.

His gills puffed out.

I lifted the rod.

Water flew everywhere.

Line exploded off of my reel.

I was hooked up! In shock I watched as the fly line sped through the guides and the big fish made a wake as he blasted out of the shallow bay. Highway Cone made short work of my trusty Plueger and 6 wt St. Croix...thank God I brought the 6 wt today!

After a long run I settled in to what would be a tough battle. This was a big fish, and while I finally had a fighting butt to use, I was still fishing 4x tippet. I brought him back to me one time only to have him blast into my backing again. Slowly but surely I brought him back to the bay, but as soon as his belly touched bottom, he headed into my backing for the third time. The third time would be it though. I kept up the pressure, and eventually had him headed in toward shore, clearly exhausted.

At this point I had a problem. There was NO WAY Highway Cone was going to fit into my net. It was not even close. I frantically looked around for a 12 year old kid in dirty shorts, or a 50 year old chinese guy...the two saviors from the last two big fish I had taken. No one was in sight.

I steered Highway Cone into the shallows, and prepared my next move. Bending down, I dropped my tiny little net over his head like it was a burlap sack, dropped my 6 wt to the ground and grabbed for his tail as quickly as I could! Got him! In this awkward position I managed to lift this behemoth up and brought him to the bank. I removed the fly, firmly planted in the huge fish's top lip, and reached for my camera. With no one around I did the best I could in snapping a few pictures of this fish I have chased for 6 months, then picked him up and set him back in the shallow water.

In no time Highway Cone flipped his tail and headed for deep water. I walked up the bank a bit and sat down...soaking it in. As I stood up to collect my flyrod and net I looked out into the lake, and there he was, cruising along about 40 ft away. Slowly he slipped out deeper, and then disappeared.

Highway Cone is still out there, but I bet I have to come up with another fly.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on catching that orange monster. It's probably the first time hes been caught. The amazing part is you landed him by yourself.


John Montana said...

thanks gene...big fish. i've taken kelly over there a few times to show him to her, and of course he is never out and about when she is with me. maybe this weekend...

Wendy Berrell said...

Nice work man! Probably the biggest koi ever caught, let alone biggest caught on a fly. Quite a feat it was - planning, stalking, fishing, tying, thinking, stalking, failing, fishing... finally landing that beauty. It does look big, even in the pictures.

Anonymous said...

Now that you have mastered the highway cone, it might be time to teach it a few tricks:


John Montana said...

nice! i'd need a big ass fish tank though...

all the people in my office just bought me a fish...they were trying for a gold fish, but ended up getting me a japanese fighting fish.