Sunday, April 09, 2006

A moderate angler armed with a wispy 4 wt fly rod and 4X tippet should never win the battle with a 20 lb carp, but today the stars aligned and I met goal #1 for the year! With the cloudy weather I cancelled a planned trip into the gorge to my favorite carp lake, but I couldn't resist an hour or two out at a local lake I like to fish, just to look for carp. I got there about 1pm and walked around the lake with my eyes peeled. I spotted some fish, but without the sun the fish were there and gone in an instant. Still, enough activity to keep me excited, and I was getting a few chances to throw the fly at some nice sized carp. After 30 minutes or so I spotted the Highway Cone Koi and raced down the bank to get ahead of him. I knelt down in the mud and prepared my size 12 rubber legged hare's ear. As Highway Cone neared I noticed that a few feet behind him came a carp of similar size. I waited until the two fish were nearly upon me and gently flipped the fly into action. Highway Cone ignored my offering with his usual disdain, but I left the fly in the water. When the second fish was right above the fly I gave it a tiny twitch, and the big fish stopped. I almost didn't set the hook, but after about 2 seconds I realized that I hadn't seen either fish stop in their entire circuit down the bank, so I lifted the rod and immediately felt the weight of a heavy fish. The carp blasted out for deep water and I quickly palmed the Hardy Bougle as it screamed a shout of joy across the lake. The battle was long and with 4X tippet I carefully played give and take with the monster fish. After about 10 minutes I got the fish close to the bank and leaned down with my tiny little net. At this point, I realized I had a problem. I was pretty sure I could get the fish in the net, but only if I made the perfect stab, and with rod in hand and small tippet, I was in no position to make an error. I looked up in mild panic, knowing that this fish quite likely would meet or exceed my 20 lb goal. A kid and his friend of about 12 years were standing on the pathway above me, avidly watching me struggle with this monster fish.

"Want to give me a hand?" I yelled.

"Sure thing!" replied the kid enthusiastically. He sprinted down the bank and I prepared to hand my net and hopes of reaching my goal to this 12 year old in shorts and a dirty Tshirt.

After a quick and dirty lesson while I fought to keep the monster fish under control the kid declared himself ready. I angled the fish back to the bank, once, twice, three times and on the third time the kid reached down and went for it! With such a monster fish I had told him just to try to get the fish's head into the net, and the rest would (hopefully) follow. With practiced aplomb and complete disregard for his white sneakers he stepped closer to the edge and nailed that big carp in one swoop! The fish went crazy went it felt the net and its impending imprisonment and the kid nearly lost his cool as a 20 lb behemoth thrashed and flopped inches from him. For one second I expected him to drop the net and run in horror, but with ice in his veins he grimly held on. The thrashing ended with a cloud of mud, water and debris obscuring the net.

"I think I got him!" the kid yelled.

"Lift him up!" I encouraged and the kid did his best to comply, but the fish was simply too big! "Use both hands!" I nearly screamed at him and he quickly grabbed the rim of the net and lifted the beast out of water!

As soon as he got such a close view of what he had just captured his steely nerve nearly failed...I could see him breaking before my eyes. I dropped my precious 4 wt and the mud and leapt forward to take the net from his shaking hands.

I laid the monster on the bank and gently removed the fly. This was a BIG FISH. I lifted the net, and unscrewed the handle that holds the internal scale. With a loud clunk the scale bottomed out. This fish was nowhere near the 14lb maximum weight of this scale. I hefted it a few times, and while there is no way to be 100% sure, I declare my goal of a 20 lb carp on the fly official realized.

As proof I list a picture, taken by the sure (but slightly shaken) hands of a 12 year old. Without this kid I really don't think I would have landed this fish. The moral of the story, I need a MUCH bigger net!


Anonymous said...

Great Story John! I laughed when you called...TWICE! And you give me a bad time when I call to let you know of the fish I'm catching!

Great Picture...

Anonymous said...

John, you are anything but a moderate fisherman! Sweet site.

John Montana said...

i'm a moderate carp fisherman...and with as much time as i've spent on carp lately, i'm pretty sure my trout skills are shrinking fast.

when are we getting out dave?

Wendy Berrell said...

Wow - great fish. The picture is about as good as you could ask for..

That's a real pig.

John Montana said...

i'm pretty happy with this one. it was a beast. it didn't fight as well as some of the smaller fish though(only hit backing once) but was still a great accomplishment in my book. now i'm after a 25 lb fish!