Sunday, October 18, 2009

Just got back from a week in FL with the kids and Kelly's parents. We had a great time in Marco Island, but I'm glad to be home! The flight back was tough...just a lot of hours in a plane with two young kids! Elia is an absolute fish and had a blast at the beach. JJ was sick most of the trip, but still enjoyed building (and destroying) sand castles! I spent one day fishing with Mark from Everglades Guide service. We fished hard but the snook just didn't cooperate. I enjoyed the change of pace from carp fishing...hammering the banks with streamers, trying to tuck the fly under tree branches and in amongst the mangrove roots was quite a challenge. I managed one small snook, and a bunch of snappers. I nearly had a couple of jacks but the schools busting the bait move so fast it was tough to get in front of them.

I spent the mornings at the resort walking the beaches and looking for fish to throw the fly at. There was a large rock pile about 1/2 mile away, so I would walk slowly along the beach casting at swirls and then spend the bulk of my time casting off the rock piles. I caught a ton of sierra mackerel, and had more than that chop through the straight 40 lb mono I was using as leader. Man, do they have sharp teeth. I landed one really big mackerel that went way into my backing (not pictured) but most were the size seen below. Fun fish, they just maul a fly...all of my clousers are chopped down to dumbell eyes with no more bucktail. I caught the big lady fish below off the beach. Walking along I saw some activity, chucked a clouser out there and this ladyfish grabbed the fly. They fight pretty well! I also managed to catch a few small jacks from the rock piles...pound for pound, they crushed the lady fish and mackerel. It was a nice change of pace from carping...completely different than anything I've done before.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My dad just misses the 20 lb club...19 lbs 10 ounces. Nice! His biggest fish ever caught on a fly rod.

He's shooting for 20 tomorrow.

Just haven't had time to post of late, but have had a few outings. Nice triple here with my dad's friend Mike. I'll get some details up are 16, 9, and 19 lbs.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Pretty good sign that you are into the carp here.

Great day with my dad. While I actually took this picture scouting on the way home after fishing with dad, we saw about this many carp when we had flies in the water! Too tired for a full on report right now, but some large fish were seen, and caught. My dad landed a 17 lber, his 2nd biggest fish ever on a flyrod. I caught a 16 lber and this fish that stole the show.

The picture doesn't do this fish justice, but it tipped the digital scale at 30.5 lbs! I spotted the fish about 30 feet out, slow cruising directly towards me in about knee deep water. I dropped the carrot in front of him, stripped twice and he darted forward then just stopped. I set the hook and it was off to the races! While not an epic battle, the fish hit my backing on the first run, and played some serious tug of war when he got in close to me. With no nearby obstructions I managed to get him in the net for my second 30 lb common!

Later in the day I spotted 4 large grass carp...not General Sherman large, but probably mid 30s to 40 lb range. Big, spooky fish...I managed to get into casting range but before I even finished one false cast all 4 of the grasser bolted out the was quite a ruckus!

I have a hunch my dad is close to his first 20 lber. We saw several today, and I think it is just a matter of time before he finds one willing to eat his fly. It won't be long now!

My dad...carping in style!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Elia and I headed out of town to meet up with my parents this weekend. They are staying in the rv and dad has been after carp all week. Fishing has been slow for him I think he had only landed one or two so far. We started out today with low expectations and I was pleasantly surprised. The fish were not around in huge numbers but in the right water types they were tailing and feeding nicely. My dad had some great shots but no luck in the morning. I kept going and he went back for lunch with Elia and my mom. I had caught some fish by then but started to get into them pretty good along a deep rocky bank. One tailer took the fly so deep I just about lost a finger trying to get my fly back! Some great aggressive takes over all including several strip takes where I had the fish chasing and just kept stripping until there was resistance. Dad came back and we finished the day together. For the day I landed about 15 with two fish a little over 14 lbs. Mo monsters today. Dad got a few and we have one great double pic thatt I will get online when I get home.

One pic worth showing is of Elia. We hit one quick spot on the way out of town and I hooked this fish. Elia fought it for a while and then chased it around in the shallows with the net. She managed to scoop him up though! I just love being on the river with my little girl.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Here is a quick and rather poor picture of the carrot I fish. Basically, this is Mr. P's carp carrot, with a split rubber legged tail and a more muted orange color. Great fly Mr. P!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

I caught a lot of carp today. How many? Somewhere inbetween "Oh my god what a great day" and "Holy crap I can't lift my right arm." Closer to the latter actually. I saw a lot of this:

It wasn't that I saw more fish than I normally do, but they were a lot more aggressive. They flat out did not want to eat the worm. I caught one or two on a small crayfish pattern, but today was all about the carrot. Carp tailing up ahead? Put the carrot on on. Carp slow crusing near the bottom? Drop the carrot, strip, on. Fast cruiser on the surface? Rip the carrot by it as fast as you can on! Sunning fish on the drop off? Watch that carrot sink and bam! Fish was pretty crazy. All I had to do was show the fish the carrot (in motion) and they would move, chase, follow, and eat.

The vast majority of the fish were in the 10-13 lb range, with several in the mid teens and two big boys (get to those in a minute.) And the fish were HOT today. Nearly every fish went deep into my backing, and I broke off at least 5 fish. I was fishing in some pretty serious rock piles, and they were absolutely sawing my leader apart. I actually had to give 3 fish slack so they would swim off some rock piles just to land them. Of course, I had no extra leaders with me, so I had to make due with a knicked up piece of junk for most of the day. Three fish worth mentioning.

First, this beast. I spotted this fish tailing about 60 ft away, snuck to within 40 ft and started to make the cast. Just as I was about to let the fly go the fish stopped tailing, lifted up and moved directly toward me. I chopped the cast short and dropped the carrot about 3 ft in front of him and that carp charged like a bull moose and inhaled the fly. Awesome take and he was off to the races. I scaled the fish out at 21 lbs, but that weight doesn't do this fish justice. He was solid...he made me think of my son, JJ. Just a solid brick of a fish. Yes, I just compared a carp to my son, but if you had seen this fish and met JJ, you'd agree.

Notable fish #2...this big girl was in the midst of about 3-4 other carp that appeared completely uninterested in anything. These fish were holding in about 2 ft of water, not moving an inch. I snuck right up on them...probably because they were virtually asleep. Somehow I managed to thread the needle on a flip cast and got the single carrot to sink about 7 inches from the biggest fish's head. The fish stirred, stretched, and ate the carrot. It scaled out at 23 lbs.

And of course I have to mention the mirror. This fish was only about 9 lbs, but when I see mirror carp, I cast at them. In fact, I literally PASSED on a tailer that might have gone 20 lbs to put the carrot on this mirror. When Justin and Joe were here J hypothesized a peacock herl carrot. As if there was any doubt that a peacock anything would catch fish, this mirror chomped the peacock carrot.

All in all, just an amazing day on the water. The fish were active, aggressive and strong. My arm really does feel like it is about to fall off. I really don't know how many fish I landed, but I did bring 20 lbers number 7 and number 8 to hand...more where they came from!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Mr. P, the mythical carp anlger from WA now has a blog! Link to sidebar added, or go here. Good stuff Mr. P!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The long awaited OR trip...Wendy Berrell and his brother JOe showed up in OR on Wednesday night for 4 solid days of chasing carp. There was never even a discussion of finding colder water fish, instead we did nothing but chase big, warmwater goldfish. Many words are needed to describe this 4 day event, but for now, a few highlights followed by some pictures.

48 hours on the water.

A triple.

A momentary quadruple.

Visual memories.

Dirty backing.

Carp carrot...carp carrot...carp carrot.

800 total pounds of carp.

Is it wrong that I'm ready to go fishing again already?

Get the picture?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Despite a few mishaps and some weather issues, I managed to put 20lbers #5 and #6 in the books today. I did quite a bit of exploring this morning, checking some likely spots without rigging up before getting to the place I planned on fishing. I rigged up my brand new Gary Borger Targus 7wt (impulse buy, sweet little rod though!) and headed down the flat. The goal was to break in the new rod...Well, I did that. Fish #2 for the day turned my new toy into a warranty experiment. I was reaching for the fish with the net and the rod snapped about 6 inches below the middle ferrule. Crap.

I did enjoy the rod up until that point! The worst part about breaking the rod was I had to hoof back to the car to get my sage, and in the time it took me to get back to the area I was fishing the clouds had rolled in and visibility had gone from bad, to impossible. I stood there for a while, trying to decide what to do. I literally couldn't see anything, and the wind was picking up, making matters worse. It was still early in the day, I had two fish to hand so I could have called it good and headed home. Instead, I decided to just move really slowly and see if I could somehow spot a tailer or two before spooking them. Turned out to be a good decision. I spotted this mirror, mainly because it was in just inches of water. He ate the worm with no hesitation.

There is something about mirror carp...just cool looking fish. I kept moving, but conditions got even worse. The cloud cover turned dark, the wind got heavier and I was basically fishing in whitecaps, getting hammered into the shoreline. At one point I lifted my outside foot just as a big wave came in and it actually tripped me up and I went down in knee deep water. The river is still cold! I got into a wamer, mud bottome area and started moving even slower. Spotted a dark shape about 6 ft away and dropped the worm/stonefly nearby. I wasn't sure if the shape moved or a wave made it look that way, but I set the hook...lucky guess. The fish ended up weighing 21 lbs even.

I kept fishing for a while, but didn't cover much ground. In order to see the fish, I had to nearly stand still. I hooked probably 5-7 more fish, but they all popped off so I'm assuming I snagged them. Bottom line, when you hook a carp in the mouth you usually land them, or break them off. I didn't get any scales back, but all the pop off's likely meant I was snagging fish. I just couldn't see...I was casting at shapes and setting the hook when they moved...pretty tough.

The last fish made the entire day. I had finally given up and was hoofing up the shoreline, calling it a day with only 4 fish to hand when I saw a dark shape surfing the waves up ahead of me about 30 ft. The fish looked like a viking ship marauding the would zoom in to the shallows on a wave and dart around briefly, then zip back out before the next wave would break. I've never seen a carp act like that, but it was pretty exciting to watch. I timed the cast...waited until the viking ship was on the way into the coastline and then made my firs, last, and only cast of more than 10 ft today. The moment the flies hit the water that fish lit up like a christmas tree and hammered the stonefly. I absolutely charged the fly from a good 3-4 ft away, still riding an incoming wave. Just a phenomenal take. I couldn't see well enough to watch the fish eat the fly, but there was no doubt what was happening. I fought the fish, and it scaled out at 21 lbs on the nose. To be honest...I think it might have been the same fish! At least 2 hours had passed, and I was a minimum of 1/2 mile from the place that I had caught the last fish, but check out these pictures. The first pic is of fish #4 for the day, the second of fish #5. They both weighed 21 lbs, and had that strange mouth...

Hard to tell, but they sure look like the same fish to me.

All in all a good day...I just hope the river drops and clears and we get good sun when Wendy Berrel and his brother get here!

Friday, June 05, 2009

I spotted a strange hit on the blog today which lead me to a forum for fly fishing in Quebec. The original text:

salut Mahmoud,

ici sur le blog Carp on the Fly du copain John Montana tu trouveras pas mal d'infos.

les carpes peuvent prendre en surface mais ce sera surtout au fond que tu les trouveras.
c'est là qu'elles se nourrissent le plus.

and the translation, courtesy of Wendy Berrel's wife Emily:

“Hi, Mahmoud,

Here on the blog Carp on the fly of your friend John Montana you will find a lot of information (news?).

The carp can be taken from the surface, but you’ll mostlyl find them in deeper waters. That’s where they find the most to eat.”

I suppose there are carp everywhere!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pit stop:

In the backing:

Believe it or not, my smile was bigger:

A little exploring:

One more to end the day...a "baby."

Just about the best day ever:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Three steps onto the flat, one cast and 15 seconds later this is what I could see. The first carp of the day just ripped the flyline off my reel and blasted into my backing. Safe to say the water has warmed up and the fish have some zip again!

It was a pretty auspicious start, and while the day was a great success, it did come in fits and starts. After that first fish I spent quite bit of time stalking through the high, cloudy water vainly trying to spot a fish before stepping on it. I found a few, and even managed to hook and land a couple, but it was pretty tough overall. The water was very high and cloudy...I just couldn't see them. After a couple of hours of searching with only one or two more fish to hand, things turned around in a hurry. As usual, it was just a matter of finding the right water type. I found some small bays surrounded by rocky points. The high water had pushed the fish right into shore, but they felt pretty secure in these little bays, and I started getting into them regularly. I was walking upstream, making short casts at tailers with a double san juan worm rig. If you are making good casts with an SJW at a tailer, you might as well be using a net. That fish is caught. It held true today too...The presentation from directly behind them was tricky...trying to get the fly on their nose without lining the fish wasn't easy, but everytime I made the right cast, I hooked up with a decent carp.

For some reason, the fish only wanted the worm today. I had gone through the usual run of carrot flies, hare's ears, various crayfish patterns and other misc. flies, but the carp were all about the worm today. This nice mirror came on a great big SJW...tied on a size 4 hook with a normal size black bead...Just for the heck of it I had tied these big worms, and I actually caught quite a fish on them today. I'll have to add a few more sizes of the SJW to the box.

In total, I think I landed about 15 carp. I only landed 2 big fish, both scaled out at 17 lbs. Most of the fish were around 10-12 lbs, and they were all tough today. I saw a LOT of backing and by the end of the day my rod arm was cramping...the carp kicked my butt today. I did have 2 fish on that were likely over 20 lbs. One that looked to me to be in the low 20 just popped off right at the net. The fly just pulled. The other fish was a serious fish...easily the biggest fish I've hooked this year, I'd guess that it was pushing 30 lbs, but when I reached for it with the net the fish gave one more head shake and popped the tippet. I was pretty bummed...I really wanted to put the scale on that fish.

All in all a great day on the water. I was faced with some tough conditions today with the high water, poor visibility and some strong winds, but I managed to find some fish! Only a few weeks and Wendy Berrel and his brother will be out here, as long as the water comes down a bit and clears up a touch, we'll have a great trip.

I finally got a chance to take JJ fishing. We chased Carp for a few hours yesterday, but couldn't get any to eat. The local pond Carp are pretty educated. We did get this bass to take a Montana Carrot...JJ had a great time!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Another spring trip in the books. I'm not really sure how J and I managed to turn this into such a great tradition...over the years we've increased our time on the water, changed our locations and desired species, and covered nearly every watershed within a couple of hours of "home base." Come to think of it, the home base had a major shift when J moved down to Rochester, but the spring trip survived that and kept right on rolling. This trip has really taken on a life of its own, and is something that is on my mind most of the year leading up to the days we get to spend time plying the waters in Minnesota. Most years, we have faced some type of adverse conditions, usually marked by heavy rainfall and rising rivers, one year marked by a frigid cold front that made me realize why I love Oregon! As J would say, when it is below 60 degrees I put on my winter coat. Through it all the overlying memory of the trip is of how easy it is to fish with J. Most think of fly fishing as a solitary sport, but fly fishing with a good friend enhances the experience. I hope we can keep this tradition alive, and look forward to a few years down the road when our sons and daughters will join us on the water.

As for this year's trip...another great one. Day one was originally going to be our "grab bag" day. You can always count on a fun day just blind nymphing beneath the dams in Minnesota. Such an incredible variety of species found in one area and they all seem willing to eat a well drifted rubber legged hare's ear! This year, we hit a spot on a hunch by J, and found some seriously entertaining sight fishing.

It didn't take us long to get into fish. One of the striking things about these carp is that they were definate meat eaters. The flats here in OR are full of carp, but in my experience they tend to eat more nymph type of patterns. On Thursday, the fish that were feeding wanted meat. They pounced on big flies with aggression. Most takes were obvious, including one definate "cat pounce" moment that I've come to love about carp fishing. Carp seem to be able to leap straight up, turn and land on a fly just like a cat. It sounds ridiculous to think about that in the context of water, but that is exactly what it feels like.

We spent some time spotting, stalking, and catching nice carp in a shallow, river setting. To be honest, it was tough to leave, but eventually we headed to a dam for some grab bag action. As J mentioned in his report earlier, the grab bag didn't come together in a big way, but we did manage some fish. I landed a nice northern Pike on a size 10 hare's ear (that still cracks me up) and J caught this great smallmouth.

We finished the day at an old college hangout, watchin the Cavs obliterate the hawks and eating some burgers. Pretty great day on the water.

Day two was much more of a crap shoot. With low water conditions we zipped around a bunch of spots, looking for a mix of blind nymphing opportunities and some sight fishing if we could find it. Right away we did find some sight fishing. Despite low light and clouds we spotted some buffalo, and I managed to get two to eat flies. Those were the only two buffs of the trip, I was thrilled to get a couple! We did some driving, scouting, fishing...everything wrapped together as we moved around and found some fish here and there. We caught some carp, we caught some bullheads (of course), but the overlying thought I'll have of day two is that we were in Minnesota. That sounds strange, but until you've spent some windshield time in Minnesota you might not know what I mean. Minnesota isn't the twin cities and is the small town laid out in grids, the houses on corner lots, the water towers. There is a feel in that country that just hits you.

As the day wore onto evening, we headed back to Rochester so J could attend a preplanned function with his family. I headed out with the thought of fishing one 10 foot slot of river that we know generally holds stacks of fish. No dissapointment on this evening either. I fished until dark in the rain, landing 9 quillback carpsuckers and one nice carp...all without leaving that slot.

The quillback is an interesting fish, and a great surprise to catch. The are not heavy or big, but they are FAST. The instant you hook them they seem to swim 3 or 4 different directions at once...they remind me in ways of Coho Salmon, though the salmon have much more sheer power. There are worse ways to end a day that hooking a bunch of quillbacks. After releasing my last fish, I finished the day with some great food at the best coffee shop I know...Dunn Brothers in Rochester, MN.

I spent day 3 on my own. My intent was to trout fish a stretch I'm familiar with, then meet J and the kids to fish together in the evening. I wandered around the stream, plunking nymphs and watching for a hatch. I caught fish and really enjoyed most of the day, but the magic really happened as I returned to the car. I stopped to chat with a gentleman casting a beautiful cane rod (I believe it was a granger taper). He was kind enough to let me try it out, and as we spoke the river came alive. The trout were chasing BWO through the current seams as far as you could see. I moved upriver and stood in a nice slot, surrounded by rising fish. I caught some fish on dries, then switched to a floating nymph, trailing a soft hackle. I spent the tail end of the hatch swinging flies down the run, getting hits on nearly every swing. I lost track of the number of beautiful brown trout I caught, but the number didn't matter. It was magic on a trout stream.

By the time I actually made it to the car, I'd missed our planned afternoon connection. I zipped into St Charles just in time to meet J and the kids at the hotel. We had a guys night Pizza party, watched some basketball and I enjoyed getting to know J's kids a little better.

The next morning I woke up and debated. Head to a trout stream, or head north to look for carp and try to get home early to see my kids. To be honest, I really missed my family. I thought back to the few days we'd had fishing together...the visuals of Thursday; the pike on the hare's ear; standing on a bridge together looking for fish; a nearly epic BWO hatch on a perfect MN trout stream; good coffee in the mornings and great conversation throughout. I said goodbye, jumped in the rental and headed north. I made one quick stop, geared up and stalked down the river bed, looking for one visual, one moment to wrap things up and officially end another spring trip. I very nearly blew it. With poor visibility I almost stepped on what would be my last carp of the trip. Instead, the fish kept feeding, oblivious to the fact that I was only a few feet away. I checked my fly and flipped it in front of the fish, of course it was a rubber legged hare's ear. As the fly sank, the fish stopped its vigorous tailing and eased forward and almost casually opened its mouth and sucked in the fly.

Another trip in the books.