Sunday, June 04, 2006

Now I'll be the first to admit, I've had a great couple of weeks fishing. I got to fish with my best friend for 4 days, caught some beautiful brown and brook trout, totaled 23 species on one trip, caught a bunch of carp while listening to my daughter put "baby" and "geese" together to describe goslings, and I watched while a couple of friends of mine completely succumbed to the carp craze, to the point where KB actually referred to carp in one locale we fish as "just LITTLE 5 lbers." Good stuff!

That said, the one thing I haven't done lately is land any big carp. I've hooked them, and had knots fail, tippet break and hooks pull, but I just haven't been able to seal the deal with anything over 11lbs over the last few weeks. This weekend I did the normal morning trips for small carp with Elia in the backpack, and we caught some fish, watched the ducks and had several memorable takes in small water, but I was itching to go after some big boys!

I anxiously watched the rain come down this afternoon, and cursed while the clouds continued to roll in. Finally I decided that I wasn't going to have a shot at any big carp sitting at home, so I headed out in spite of the poor conditions. Good decision!

Right away, I spotted a big fish. It was actively feeding, and moving around a 20 ft area seemingly at random. Every minute or so the fish would tilt up and suck down some vegetation off of the surface, or tilt down to grab a morsel off the bottom. I tied on an algae fly (yes, I do have some!) and put it in front of the fish a few times with no luck. I changed to a small hare's ear with a tiny black bead to help it sink, and snuck a little closer to the fish. It didn't take long before I saw the head turn quickly in the direction of my fly, which at the time was at least a foot away. On a hunch, I set the hook when her head turned, and was rewarded with a hookup! That fish had sucked my fly in from at least a foot away...really amazing.

With all the recent weed growth I fought her with a ton of pressure, trying to keep her out of the big weed patch about 70 ft away. She got there anyway. I dropped my rod tip to the water, crestfallen. Once again, I had lost a big fish, this time when she buried herself 5 feet into a weedbank. As I stood there surrounded by slack line I noticed some movement in the weedbank, and the tip of my fly line started moving across the lake! She was still on! I quickly picked up the slack and thanked the fish gods for making this carp decide to swim back out of a batch of weeds that would have doubtless been the end of my 4x tippet. Renewed, I quickly battled the fish back to the bank and prepared to land her.

Once again, the small net I carry became a problem. Even a bigger problem this time as I had inexplicably left it in the car! I looked around and spotted a small opening in the bank, that led to a circle of water about 6 ft in diameter, forming a tiny bay along the bank. The opening to this area was about 2 feet wide, and I figured I could steer the big carp right into the little bay, where I could land her. She slid into the opening with surprising ease, but the water in the bay was deeper than I planned and I was back to square one. No way to beach this fish, but now I had a monster carp slowly swimming in circles in the 6 ft area. I lifted her head up as high as I could to try to get her where I could grab her with one hand and POW!!!! The hook broke!

I reacted with lightning speed and dropped to my knees, grabbing for the carp's tail. I had it for a second and she slipped out of my grasp and headed for the opening to the lake. I reached out as far as I could and dunked my arm into the water right in the middle of the opening. The fish bumped my hand and swam back into the little carp pen I had created. I quickly repositioned myself next to the opening and used my hands to form a gate, blocking her escape. The carp didn't panic, just continued to swim in slow circles around the pen, while I bodily blocked off the opening.

She swam in circles for about 30 seconds while I figured out what to do. Frankly...I was drawing a blank. I have to admit I was poorly prepared to be playing as a human gate on an improvised carp pen. At this point I probably should have given up...I almost landed this carp...close enough right?

I had one last plan though. When the fish was on the back end of her circle I knelt way down and dropped both of my elbows to the bottom of the opening, with my palms up and ready. The carp continued around the pen and suddenly found the way out unobstructed! She eased over the threshold and as soon as she was on top of my arms I scooped that big fish up in both arms and hugged it to my chest! I staggered to my feet, arms loaded with thrashing carp...somehow I managed to get a grip on her tail and I put my other hand under her belly. Now that is how you land a carp boys and girls!

I laid her quickly on the bank by my rod and snapped a few pictures. This was a big fish...maybe the 4th or 5th biggest I've landed. After a few quick shots I gently released her to the lake and watched her swim off...

So in case anyone was about to ask...this is why I don't fish for big carp when Elia is in the backpack!


Anonymous said...

I am very impressed!!!!! The second telling is better than the first. That is one big fish. Congrats!

Wendy Berrell said...

That's a big ol carp - great fish. Good story too - I wish I'd have been witness to that - probably pretty funny. Nice work scooping the fish.

There is a slight chance I might chase a carp today, but not sure... if not, then this weekend. I'll have to beat all the yahoos out there though, so I can fish that nice slackwater. And I mean yahoos!

John Montana said...

thanks guys...nice to finally land another big one!

my weekend plan of scouting the WA lake before justin arrives might be dead...have to attend an event in sunriver for work this weekend. sorry kb, i'll get you over there sometime!

Wendy Berrell said...

YO! Just successfully sight-fished to a carp... probably 20 landed in my carp career, but this was my first ever that I saw take the fly. Took me 1.5 hours to hook one. I'll post some pics tomorrow.

John Montana said...

i bet that is something you will remember for quite some time!

now you'll be itching for my WA lake...big carp, shallow water!