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!