Saturday, August 30, 2008

I was fortunate enough to take a client of mine fishing on Friday. Chris is a great fisherman, and an easy guy to be around. We had a great day, both of getting right around 10 carp to hand. His big fish was ??? (running a poll), largest he's ever caught on a flyrod! I did manage a 20 lber (right on the nose), putting me at 12 fish over twenty this year...Quite a tally. Overall, he was a bit surprised by the power carp have, and ended the day vowing to bring more backing next time! Chris fished like a carp pro, not an easy thing to do on his first real carp outing.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

So last Saturday, while I was out having a grand time chasing carp my friend David was on the same mission, different water. The first thing I did when getting back to the car was grab my cell phone to call him and tell him about the 30 lber. I picked it up, and saw he had left me a voice mail. The voice mail was 2 words. "27 lbs!" A pretty simple message, so I called him up and congratulated him on this beast of a carp her had landed earlier that day. David asked how I had done, and I gleefully told him i had finally broken 30! We laughed a bit, tiny portion of fisherman's competition rearing its head but honestly, we were both thrilled that we had found some big fish. This 27 lb brute is the biggest fish David has caught on a flyrod! He has been fishing with me, and patiently learning some big fish water for the last two years, so it was great to see it pay off for both of us on the same day.

Great fish David!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

When Kelly gave me the green light this morning, I was out of the house and heading towards the river in a flash. I threw my gear in the FJ, grabbed a cup of coffee and headed for the river. At times, I can be a little intense and focussed, and today those traits were dialed all the way up. I was on a mission. The last few trips out have been ok, but I had been fishing water where I don't see as many carp in pursuit of twenty pounder number ten for the year and the ever present goal of a thirty pound fish. Today, I threw both of those goals out the window and headed to a spot that I figured would hold a lot of fish, even if they were smaller than normal. I was really keyed up when I pulled up to the river. I jumped out of the car and before stringing up my rod I took a look around, and immediately spotted a tailing carp. Not only was it a feeding fish, but it was a mirror. I forced myself to calmly rig up, and get ready, being sure my knots were good and everything was set right. When I snuck into position the mirror was still there, and still had his head buried in the rocks. I put the Montana Carrot on him and in one cast all the tension just drained out of me. That fish leapt forward and sucked in the carrot. Minutes later, I had a 9 lb mirror in the net.

And it just kept getting better.

I stalked down the bank, spotting feeding fish every 20 ft or so, and they continued to eat the Montana Carrot with very little hesitation. I cast at cruisers and tailers, and saw carp take the fly with ever so subtle moves of their head, or pounce on the fly like they had been waiting for it all week. As I headed down river I started to get into bigger fish. I caught few low teens fish, and then saw a big tail sticking up between two boulders. From about 40 ft away I made a lucky cast and the fly sank one foot in front of the eating end of the fish. The tail disappeared, then reappeared one foot closer to me. I lifted the rod and almost immediately saw some fresh backing. I've caught enough big fish this year that my backing has a definite tan, but this big fish found a way to get the clean backing into the river. I eventually got the fish to hand, a beautiful 22 lb carp.

And it just kept getting better.

I looked down river a ways, and spotted a big mass of black rocks. As I got closer, the rocks sprouted tails, gills, and fins and I realized I was looking at a literal RIVER of carp. There was a 30 foot wide and 200 yard long stretch that was loaded with fish. Most were just hanging out in the shallow water, but enough were moving/tailing that I knew I was in business. I stalked the outside edge of the carp field and started picking fish out of the group. I'd hook one and he would bust into the main river, spooking 10-20 carp in the process. By the time I would land the fish, the carp field was back in shape and I would take a few steps, make a few casts, and hook another one. I've never seen that many carp in a stretch of river. Pretty quickly I started playing with flies, changing the Montana Carrot for JP's X factor, Wendy Berrell's Legion of Doom or Mr. P's Zebra hair. I got a few fish with them, and went to my old stand by San Juan. The SJW was deadly, and any fish that wasn't asleep basically ate the worm. I moved down the carp field, and caught a ton of fish. When I reached the end of the flat, I had long since lost count of how many fish I'd caught. I sat on a rock and watched the river go by for a few minutes, then started back up. The carp field was still there, though it was considerably thinned out. This actually helped, as I didn't have to worry about lining 5 fish when casting at a specific target. I was able to choose the biggest fish in the group on the way back up.

One fish in particular stood out. It looked pretty hefty, I was figuring it might be a 20 lber. I put the worm on the fish, and with no fanfare, it simply ate the fly. I got one run to my backing, and then brought the fish in close. I still didn't think it was a true monster, but when I finally got that fish in the net, I realized I had a serious fish. My net has been stretched to its limit, and even 20 lb fish fit in the pretty easily if you can get their head in the net. this fish wasn't super long, but the depth of the body was insane. I waded to shore, and took out the digital scale. By this time, I was praying that I had what I thought I had. I hefted the scale with both hands and anxiously looked at the readout. It immediately jumped to over 34 lbs...I held on tight and let it settle as the numbers edged downward. They stopped at 31.2. My net weighs just under a lb. 30 lb carp. I had finally gotten a 30 lb common, after two years of looking for one!

This year I have had 3-4 opportunities at fish that I thought were in the 30 lb range. I had big fish straighten my hook, break me off in weedbeds, and cut my leader in the rocks. Finally, a really big carp behaved when I took him for a walk. I took some pictures, released the fish and started back to the car. I probably should have just stopped fishing, goal for the year done, but I kept hunting for bigger fish. I ignored 90% of he fish I saw on the way back, casting at the bigger fish, and this mirror (I just can't resist Mirror Carp).

I caught a few more fish on the way to the car and I think I ended the day at about 25 or so. I kept track of all the fish I landed above 15 lbs, and in terms of big was an unbelievable day. I landed a 15, 17, 18, 18, 19, 22 and 30 lb fish! Easily the most big fish I've caught in a day. For the year that puts me at 11 fish over 20 lbs, my previous best year was 9. It has been a great year, and today was one of the better days!

Time to start thinking of a goal for next year!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Got my flies from the swap today. They look great. For full details, check out Fishing and thinking in Minnesota. Fun swap everyone, but now I'm really itching to catch a carp.
From earlier this year...21 lb fish:

Big Carp Release

Man do I need to go catch a fish.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A couple of fun events from this weekend. Picked up our scooter Friday night. It is a Honda Ruckus. Fun little scooter, it will make a great commuting vehicle for me! JJ absolutely LOVES it. Also, spent Sunday on the Columbia with Elia. Conditions dictated that we spend most of the time collecting shells, rocks and blackberries rather than fishing. It was a great day and Elia didn't mind not catching fish at all!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Hard to believe he's 2 now. He's a little stud.

I was massively skunked today. Horribly, completely, insanely skunked. The funny thing is when I woke up this morning and my wife gave me the green light to go fishing, I had a moment of sheer confidence that I was going to crush the carp today. I planned on exploring new water, looking for big fish and figured that by going solo even if I had limited chances at big fish, I'd get into some. Instead, I stumbled my way through the day like a complete novice. I'm really not kidding when I say it was horrible. Every single skill or misc. piece of good fortune that makes me a decent angler deserted me today. For starters, I couldn't cast. I'd line up a nice fish, fire off a perfect false cast to the side to gauge the distance and then dump a ball of line with a fly buried in the middle of it 10 ft short of said fish when I redirected to lay it out there. I looked like Swigs when he first picked up a flyrod back in MT after college (sorry Swigs...true. By the way...great monster bass you caught!) Along with my casting, my vision was virtually useless. Usually I'm eagle eyes on the water, spotting motion, color, shapes, etc. long before I "should" be able to, which allows me to get into position to make the cast. Not today...I spooked so many fish today that I was beginning to wonder if I had somehow switched my polarized lenses for non polarized. Finally, I'm usually a pretty agile guy. Wendy Berrell calls me the Mountain Goat, and some of my trout fishing friends dubbed me Legolas after I bounded through a snowfield during the Metolius Death March of 2006. Today, all sense of athleticism abandoned me. I stumbled on rocks, got stuck in the sand, slipped on tiny patches of mud, and even tripped over a few sticks. I fell into the river on 3 separate occasions.

Despite all of this..I should have slayed them! I STILL found the carp...big ones too. I was eye to eye with a 30 lber for a good .5 seconds...literally. I was making one more step when I slipped, fell in the water and that fish spooked right toward me. He damn near ran me over. I hooked and lost about 5-6 fish. Two or three were lost to the massive weedbeds that seems to accompany the water I'm learning holds big fish. 2 fish that I lost really stand out in my mind because they highlight my ineptitude. One fish broke me off because I didn't clear the line from around my reel. 1X tippet won't hold a carp in the teens when your flyline is wrapped around your reel seat. Fish number two broke me off in similar fashion when the flyline became wrapped around my LEG. That also ended in a dunking number 2-3 for the day...not sure which one. For the record Wendy, I did fish your Legion of Doom. I spotted a big tail, dumped the LOD on him and that fish darted forward...I set the hook, and off he went into the weedbed with your fly, never to be seen again.

At the end of the day, I forced myself to make one more stop. I just knew that if I could get to the water before the light was bad, I could turn the day around with a nice fish. I sprinted for the water, putting the rod together as I moved. I stopped at the edge of the river and put on a nasty looking crayfish pattern. I hadn't walked 10 ft of river in the fading light when things started to come together. 30 ft away, I could see a dark shape moving toward me. Remarkable because I could only see a cone about 5 feet wide, and this fish was RIGHT in the middle of the cone. I made a cast one foot to the left, 2 feet in front. Unlike most of my casts today, it unrolled true and perfect. I let the fly settle as the fish eased forward. When he was nearly parallel to the fly, I gave it a crayfish hop. That carp jumped on that fly like he had been waiting for it his entire life. I set the hook with a whoop of joy! I had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a crayfish pattern and this big fish! For 3 seconds I was elated, looking forward to getting a closer look at the beast that had sucked in that big fly...then the line went slack. Gone. I reeled up, fly still there, hook still sharp but alarmingly unattached to anything. With that, I clipped off my fly and headed for home.

Carp fishing is tough.