Sunday, April 26, 2009

Short, but rewarding outing today with the Godfather...I was fortunate enough to fish today with none other than Andy "AP Emerger." Andy is one of the pioneers of flyfishing for carp in OR, and helped me find and succumb to the addiction several years ago. As usualy, I had a last minute green light, but this time I dialed Andy's number as I hit the road. A few minutes later and we were chatting carp and heading to some water. Andy is the ultimate urban carp angler, and knows all the hot spots downtown, but today we hit one of my main haunts on the big C. I think Andy had a pretty good time!

Conditions were pretty tough. The water has come up and was extremely high. High water can be difficult, but combine that with a serious murk factor, and I thought we were going to be in for a couple of long, fishless hours. We found a way though. Somehow, we walked into a ton of fish. If we just stood there, we would see them as the cruised right up to our legs. We dropped heavy wiggle flies and carrot flies on their heads, set the hook when we'd see a shape turn, stop or do anything, and were rewarded with enough fish to make us happy.

The big fish of the day was about 18.5 lbs. Andy landed another fish that hit the 18 lb mark, but the 20s eluded us today. I did have one really big fish pop off nearly at my feet. 20 lbs? Maybe...we'll never know with that one. We saw plenty of big dark shapes, but with the murk, we just couldn't target the really big fish until it was too late. I was hoping Andy would get into a 20 lber, but we'll have to give that another shot later in the year.

Andy and I had been talking about getting out after carp together for a couple of seasons now, and we've never been able to put it together. While I wish we had better visibility today and lower water, it was still great to get out after carp with the guy who really helped me get started. Thanks again Andy!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Carp trip #2 is in the books. It was a successful day, but conditions left a lot to be desired. Fortunately, I got to fish with David today. Having good company makes a big difference when you are standing in a cold river with no sun, heavy wind, and turbid water. We could see fish, but only when we got right on top of them. We basically dapped flies at fish that we could barely make out and had a heck of a time deciding when to set the hook. We did see fish in both of the main areas we fished, but was pretty tough out there today.

We did manage to catch some fish though. David landed 2 (and a third with a fly buried in the pectoral fin). David's first fish was a nice 15 lber that ate one of my new "wiggle" flies (pictured below). That turned out to be the fly of the day, and while I'd like to think the carp ate it well, I think it was mainly because the tungsten sinks that fly so fast that we could dap it to the fish that were materializing just feet away from us. David's second fish was a standard 9 lber, caught on a small green nymph. I managed to land 3 fish...all three on the wiggle fly for the already mentioned reason. The first weighed 18 lbs...seriously healthy gut on that beast. Fish #2 was an absolute monster. This big girl pounced on the fly with a "summer" like take that was obvious even in the murky water. As I brought the fish to my net I hollered at David..."think she's 20?" David glanced back at the slab being towed toward my net and nodded the affirmative. The beast tipped the scale at just over 24 lbs...

I picked up one more a few minutes later...20 lbs on the nose. That makes 4 fish over 20 lbs in just two trips! An excellent start to 2009! It might be a while before I get out again...hopefully not too long. While today was great, and it is always fun to fish with David, the murky water, constant wind and lack of sun made the visuals tough. The fish are out there though...and every day it gets warmer, and they get a little more active.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

And winter is officially over. Once again, I found myself stalking the flats of the Columbia in search of clamshells, pockmarks, movement, shadows, shapes, tails...and lips. Big puffy carp lips sucking up any morsel of food they can find. It is a tough thing to explain properly to someone, this fascination with shallow water and fish so ugly they can only seem beautiful in the perfect light, or when only seen in bits and pieces. With the sun hitting a patch of scales at the right angle, the gold color can be dazzling, but take a step back and view the fish as a whole and it is not as easy to argue with those who call the carp ugly. Still, there is beauty in the pursuit. With carp, you can't wait for the fish to come to you, you have to find a way to the fish. Moving up the flats today I was reminded that you can't just stomp up to a carp. Only after a few forceful reminders did I slow myself down and find the right tempo...the careful stepping, the constant scanning in all directions. It didn't take long to get my mojo back.

I don't care who you are...that fish there is 6 months off the flats, dozens of hours at the vice, and 26 lbs of pure beauty.

After several hours of searching today I finally found that patch of warm water in the cold, cloudy Columbia. And that little area was loaded with carp. They ate the worm, I caught two on that all time great pattern. Without a doubt, a serious carp angler could carry a fly box full or worm patterns, and nothing else. Fish flat out eat that fly. I forced myself to fish another slutty little pattern I'd tied last night using some fancy new tungsten beads, and some hareline wiggle dubbing I found on line. Fish eat that little monster too. Still, the winning fly of the day was the venerable Montana Carrot. Once again I am amazed at Mr. P's carp carrot. I fish mine with a little more motion and some rubber legs, but it is basically the same fly and carp love it. I found myself fishing to hordes of carp in large pods, prepping to spawn. Most fish ignored every fly, but every once in a while a big mouth would open up and suck that carrot in as it fell to the bottom. Just deadly.

As carp openers go...this one ranks pretty high. The smallest fish of the day weighed 12 lbs...the largest that 26 lb beast pictured above. Most of the fish were between 15 and 19 lbs...and I did get a second "over 20" fish (21 on the nose). 11 fish total, and probably over 200 lbs combined weight. I find that beautiful too.

It is going to be a good year.