Monday, May 28, 2007

There are days where being a dad is something that you can't quite explain. Nothing else seems to matter, and you simply hope that your mind is capturing each moment as it happens so you can look back later. Today felt like that for me. I spent the morning with Elia. As I got her dressed I asked her what she wanted to do and she said "I want to go get coffe and go fishing." Pretty hard to resist that, so we picked up some coffee about 0830 (sugar free steamed milk for Elia) and headed out to look for some carp.

The day wasn't bright, so my expectations were low, but Elia was excited because it would be her first day wearing her new life vest. I figured she should have one, just in case she falls in and I'm not right there with her. We checked three spots, with Elia constantly chatting while we walked, or pointing out the dogs in other cars while we drove to the next spot. I only saw a few fish, and managed just one tiny 2 lb carp (it actually beat a bigger fish to the fly) but that was enough. Elia got to touch the carp, and made sure to tell me that she likes small carp better because "I'm just a little girl."

After JJ and Elia took their naps, Kelly and I took them to the pool at the health club. Elia LOVES the water, and had great time swimmng and zipping down the slide. What a joy to play in the water with your daughter and watch her constant smile and energy.

JJ wasn't sure what to think of the pool, and clung to Kelly and I throughout, but I'm sure in time he'll be a fish just like his sister and mom. It was a great afternoon topped off by hamburgers on the deck. Just a really nice day that came together perfectly. I'm looking forward to many more to come.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

KB and I had been looking forward to fishing with Mr. P for some time, and Saturday was the day we finally got together. He drove down from WA and joined us for a day on our favorite carp water. Unfortunately, it was the worst day of catching that I've had on that water in a long time. The carp were out slightly deeper than normal, and simply wouldn't committ to eating our flies. We had plenty of fish chase and turn on our offerings, but hookups were few and far between. I landed one fish, a nice 17 lb fish, and had a second come unbottoned at my feet. KB landed a nice 10-11 lb fish, and Jim hooked one, but didn't bring anything to hand. The strange thing was that the fish reacted really well to our flies. On more than one occasion I had fish follow a crayfish or leech 10-15 ft without actually eating the fly. Tough day, but fishing with Mr. P was a blast. He has a great take on fishing and we enjoyed his company immensely. I'm really looking forward to the CAG event on Banks lake in a few weeks!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I had 2 hours today, and poor conditions. Not an ideal situation, but it turned out to be just a perfect carp session. I hit a local spot and the fish just weren't around so I checked out this cool creek bottom instead. I fished water that was maybe 4-10 inches deep. I'd see the fish from several hundred feet off, making a V in the shallow water. It was really a cool experience.

The tricky part was to avoid spooking them. In water that shallow, I could get really close to the fish, but not without making them speed up and stop feeding. I snuck up about 25 ft from one, and the second the crayfish fly hit the water, it just pounced on it like a cat. Not a huge fish, but in water that shallow it was quite the experience. I got him in quickly, as he couldn't get up a head of steam with only a few inches of water with which to work. When I made the cast, I could see 1/3 of the carp's body out of the water.

I can't really explain how cool it was to watch these fish moving in that water. Sometimes I'd clearly see their backs and tails moving, other times it would just be this push of water as the fish swam forward. I stalked around like a heron,and would have had a blast even if I had left the fly rod in the car.

But, it was tough. I just kept spooking them. They didn't blast out of there once they saw me, but they moved a little faster, and had no interest in eating. I did manage a bit bigger fish (about 10 lbs) in a deeper channel. I spotted that fish in 3 ft of water, dropped the crayfish in there and he just kind of settled down on it. Neat take, but the shallow water stuff stole the show. The last shot I had for the day was a great big fish...easily in the high teens. It was feeding against the bank, and I put the sneak on and got into position. I dropped the fly in on his big, hungry mouth and he looked at it, and just sucked it up. I literally had no time to set the hook. The second he took that fly in, he spit it right back out. It was really, really fast. I was RIGHT on top of the fish, and never even set the hook. One second I saw him eat the fly, and then I saw the fly come shooting back out of his mouth. As KB said, they don't get big being dumb.

This last shot was the release of the smaller fish. It just shows you how shallow that water really was. To top of the excitement of that shallow water rained the entire time. I love to fish in the rain, though that usually makes the carp fishing really tough. What a great outing today.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

That picture pretty well covers my report. My birthday is tomorrow, and generally I take a day off of work this time of year and go fishing. Of course I went carp fishing this year. The conditions were just about perfect...80 degrees, constant sun and decent visibility. The only drawback was just enough wind to make a light chop rather than a ripple. I probably shouldn't complain, it was one of those days that reminds you just how beautiful nature is.

The fishing was pretty good. There were spawning carp all over the place, so the trick was to target fish that were single, not in a pairs or groups. The single ones ate pretty well, the spawners had other thoughts on their minds!

I fished a wide range of flies, mainly crayfish type patterns, or general nymphs. The fish were a little deeper than normal, so I needed a fly that got down to them in a hurry. Takes were really hard to detect at times as well because of the chop on the water and the depth of the fish (maybe 3 ft of water instead of the usual 2 ft or so.) I fished my 9 ft 9 inch 6 wt st croix legend ultra (the albright is still being repaired) and that rod got a serious work out today!

I'm not exagerating when I say that nearly every fish I hooked went well into my backing. The fish were just full of fight, and would immediately run to the other side of the lake once hooked. There was just no way to stop them, and I lost several fish in a big weedbed. I can honestly say that my arms are shot from fighting fish all day. Thank god that 6 wt has a fighting butt!

All told I landed somewhere between 12 and 14 carp. I hooked at least 3 or 4 more that got off in the weedbed, and one fish broke my 1x tippet when I tried to stop him from getting to that weed bed! I lost another fish or two that I'm pretty sure were snagged. It seems to me that if I foul hook a carp, they pop loose...if I hook them in the mouth, I usually land them, or they break me off. Their mouths hold hooks pretty well!

The fish today were big. Much bigger than I usually catch in these areas. I landed at least 6 fish that were in double digits...probably more but I only weighed the really big ones. Three fish bottomed out my 14 lb weight net. Two of them I would put in the high teens, and one in the mid teens. Really big fish today.

There were several times when I thought my 6 wt was going to snap. Those big fish are fun to hook and fight when they run so hard, but the last few feet of tug of war is pretty taxing on your equipment. You can hear the rod strain as you try to turn the head of such a big fish. My net is stretched pretty good now, so if I can get the head of a big fish into the opening, I'm pretty well set. Some of the fish I caught today were monsters.

As the sun got lower and lower and visibility got worse, I started blind casting up the shoreline whenever I saw nervous water. This is not my favorite way to carp fish and I never have much success, but tonight I hooked 4 bass blind casting in the shallows. I was pretty surprised to be pulling bass out of 1 ft of water...2 largemouth and 2 smallmouth. They were all nice sized fish, but as WT says, "Bass are the whitefish of the carp flats." That pretty well covers today's bass fishing!

It was a great day on the water. I caught lots of fish, and I caught big fish. I saved up a ton of perfect visual memories. Looking forward to the next trip!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

I'd like to lay claim to the picture above, but not only did I not take that picture, it isn't even my fish. Kim (KB) and I met up this morning in search of some carp. I brought JJ along in the backpack, but had barely gotten halfway around the pond when a work issue popped up and I had to take off. I had thought I had the issue handled the night before and the morning, but there is nothing like having a trucking company lie to you for 5 straight hours. By the time I really knew what was going on, I needed to be near a better phone than my cell phone! Sorry to bail on you like that Kim!

As you can see, Kim had a great day! He caught two fish, with this nice 10 lber being the biggest. Kim also said he had a 20 lb fish jump out of the water and look at him, not once...but twice. Must have liked what it saw!

I'll get out next week and make up for some lost time. Way to go Kim!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I know it is tough to tell from such a crummy picture, but that is a BIG carp. I'm estimating the fish was right around 20 lbs, and it was the first fish I caught today.

With the sun shining and a rough day at the office, I just had to get out and enjoy the sun for an hour or two. I actually headed home to hang out with Kelly and the kids, only to find them out and about, so I grabbed the six weight and went exploring. What I found was spawning carp...tons of them. Everywhere I looked a big female was being hounded by 3-5 smaller males, thrashing and chasing and generally whooping it up in the shallows. If the fish were in groups of more than 2, you could forget about it...2 fish together and a take was fish alone and a take was guaranteed assuming you made a solid presentation. I spotted the big girl above all alone about 10 feet from the bank, tailing perfectly. One cast and the size 10 carp wooley dropped slowly through the water column about 10 inches from the fish's head. The fish looked up briefly...moved forward maybe 2-4 inches and stopped. I set the hook and was reminded once again that carp can suck the fly in from at least a half a foot away with little to no indication! This was a solid fish, and I had a great battle on the six weight. I landed her with my tiny, stretched out net, took the crummy photo above and released. The problem I have with big carp when I'm alone is you have to fight them to submission, and they are big, heavy, and hard to handle out of the water. In the interest of the fish the best I can do is to lay them on some wet grass, fire off a shot (hoping it is a decent picture) and then let them go. I need to fish with KB (professional photographer) more often!

I kept moving, and didn't spend much time in any one spot. I could have stood and cast/dapped at dozens of spawning carp, some quite large but it would have been completely pointless. Those sexed up fish had 0 interest in eating. Instead, I moved around, looked for loners on the fringes of the spawning fish. I had some great shots at fish, and when I did it right, I hooked them. The carp wooley was killer today, and if placed right to the right type of fish, they took it with confidence. Pretty quickly I landed an 11 lb fish, then spotted, stalked and hooked another smaller carp that scaled out at 7 lbs.

The next fish I spotted was only about 15 feet from some spawners, and I wasn't sure if it was actively feeding, but it was another huge carp so I snuck into position and made a short cast. As the fly sank, the fish veered slightly towards it and I set the hook...another big fish on the line! This battle was tougher than the first as I was in some open water with big massive weedbed about 4 ft away. The carp made it in there once, but I managed to work it back out and eventually landed the nice fish. Not quite as big as the first one I caught, but and easy 18-20 lbs. Again, really hard to tell from the picture but when you stand there and land an 11 lb fish and it looks TINY compared to two others you know you are into some big ones.

The last fish of the day was a 12 lber...Really nice fish but not as big as some of the others I caught today. Still, this fish encapsulated all that I love about carp fishing. I spotted her from 30 ft away, and she was tight to the bank and holding motionless in a patch of weeds...right on the bottom. The only way to present the fly would be to sneak right up on top of her and literally dap the fly in front of her face. I crept into position, taking a long time and moving slower than I've ever moved stalking a feeding trout. Finally, I was a rod length away and obscured by some low bushes. I sank the fly about 6 inches away from her mouth. In perfect High Definition I saw the fly sink slowly...I saw her open her mouth almost casually, and the fly moved like a nail being attracted to a magnet, slowly at first, then gaining speed and momentum until it just slammed inside that carp's mouth. The rest of it, the hookset and fight were great, but that one visual made the entire day an even greater success.

All in all, 5 carp. Weights were 7lbs, 11lbs, 12lbs, and two I estimate at 20 bls. I used one fly the entire time, and went home with a sore arm and stretched out flyline.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Teeg from over at Recycled Fish sent me a nice note about a seminar they are doing up in Seattle. It sounds like a great opportunity to learn about Searun Cutthroat, a fish I've never chased, but would sure like to go after one day. For details, checkout Recycled Fish.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Kelly and Elia spent a "girl's day out" today, which left JJ and I to fend for ourselves! We headed out scouting for carp, but the recent rains made all of the ponds and slough really muddy. Visibility was terrible everywhere we stopped. Finally on our last stop we were able to spot some fish. I had been at this pond a week ago and caught one fish, but nearly every fish I had seen was in spawning mode. Today was different. I could barely see them, but the fish I could pick out were actively tailing. My first cast landed just inches from where I supposed the head of a tailing fish was. His tail sped up, I set the hook and fish on! The first fish was the biggest, and just under 6 lbs. I spotted two more fish quickly, and in both cases I'm positive that the fish each took the fly (a size 10 carp wooley) but I didn't hook either fish. I was waiting for the tail to speed up for both fish, and instead they just kept rooting around, and then suddenly bolted out of there. I'm sure they each ate the fly, spit it out and spooked. The second fish of the day was in really shallow water, about a foot deep. I snuck up behind some bushes and dropped the fly a few inches in front of him and he just mosied up and sucked it in! It was a small carp, maybe 14 inches long! The third fish was the one pictured above. I was actually disappointed when I first hooked this fish. I was fishing to a tailer that was in the 5-7 lb range and as the fly sank I saw the flash of a fish moving on the sinking fly. I set the hook and had this little 3 lb fish on the line. As soon as I realized it was a mirror, I was pretty happy. I've only caught about 10 mirror carp, so I'm always excited to get one!

All in all a good day of carping. JJ was a trooper. He loves to ride in the backpack and didn't utter a peep during our outing, except the occasional excited grunt when a fish was splashing nearby. I can't wait to get him out with a flyrod!