Monday, December 20, 2010

Going to be a long winter

Figure 4 months before I will see this again. Three if I am lucky...

Need to plan a family vacation someplace warm...and with carp.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Speaking of nostalgia

My first ever carp. Much thanks to Wendy berrel, he not only found these fish, but he braved the muddy, reed covered trench to ensure that we got a good look at this fish.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Things to look forward to

This time of year is a strange in between time. I really have no right to lament the end of the season; no right to miss the carp tails and scream of my reel. By anyone's standards I had a fantastic season. Many carp were spotted,stalked and caught. Many big carp in fact. Still, I can't help but wish that it was June, with the carp just off the spawn and many days on the water ahead. It really is too early to dive into full on fly tying mode, and too early to look back and reflect on the highlights of 2010...that is something best saved for the darkest of days when the flats seem forever cold and the carp are hidden somewhere in a big ball in the depths of the Columbia. What I can do is look forward already to the season to come. To fishing with friends and family, to stalking solo through the shallows. Right now that simply has to be enough.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Season over?

Season over? Like most fishermen I have a problem with absolutes, hence the question mark rather than an exclamation point or a simple period. Still, deep down inside I am only fighting that "one last cast" mentality with token strength. It is cold, rainy, and dark. Are the carp on the flats? Probably in some small number or for some shortened duration but the energy and effort it requires to go find em is stopping me short of getting off the couch. Besides, Oregon plays tonight, jj wants me to be iron man (the bad iron man, he is the good iron man) and elia is cuddled up against me reading yet another book. I can't really think of a better place to be right now.

So yes...season over. At least with a period, the exclamation point would be a tad bit too final, don't ya think?

A little blast from the past.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The river was thick with mist this morning. The sight of the fog was enough to change my original mental odds of finding carp from a coin flip (always choose tails!) to about 3/10. I took my time rigging up, there was absolutely no reason to hurry. Air temps were still in the 40s and I contemplated the vest, knowing it would get warmer, but basically being a big softy about cold weather. I wore the vest most of the day. I was fishing not one, but two brand new pieces of gear today, mostly because my wife is a saint and lets me have my toys. I rigged a beautiful GLoomis Native Run GLX in a 9 ft 6 in ch 7 wt, and paired that with an XL reel by Allen Fly Fishing Company. The XL is their newest reel, and I was anxious to see how both rod and reel would fare against a good size carp. Waders on, boots tight and net clipped to my pack, I stepped off into the river, looking for one more fix before the long, cold winter.

Fishing this late in the fall brings it challenges. The water is usually a little lower, the wind is down (truthfully, I'm a big fan of a decent 10 mph wind when carping...this ultra calm stuff is TOUGH!) but most of all it is the curse of just having finished summer carping. Gone are the hundreds of carp you usually see on the flats, replaced with singles, the odd pair and few tailing fish. The fish are there if you walk enough, but anyone can tell you that the key to carping is numbers. With summer fish, you can flounder around and the sheer mass of fish will still ensure a good day, but in the fall, all of the little mistakes you become accustomed to making in the summer haunt you. Stub your toe on that gone. Flub the cast and put it too close...ditto. All those types of things wear on a summer time carper too, but in the fall, you might not get another chance. I blew a few shots today before I remembered lessons learned and slowed way down. I carefully placed each footfall just where I wanted it, and in particular I was cognizant of how much water I was pushing with each step. Carp are sensitive, and in dead calm water if a pressure wave from sloppy wading reaches a tailer...adios tailer.

The first fish on my new set up came together nicely. I spotted the fish moving along the bank from quite a ways away and tucked myself into a little nook of trees, figuring I'd just await the fish's arrival rather than stumble my way to him. The fish slowly moved closer.

I waited and watched, flies cradles in my finger tips, heart pounding more than a little bit. At 20 ft, with a perfect angle I snapped a cast at the fish. Too far away. I picked it up quickly, but quietly and laid the line back toward the fish. The two fly rig landed in the right spot and I counted to 4, staring at the carp and envisioning the flies sinking to the bottom. I just finished saying "four" in my head when the carp slid forward and puffed out his gills. I set the hook and heard the XL sing!

It was a good fish. Thick and heavy, somewhere between 14-16 lbs but I kept my scale in my pack and settled for an estimate. The Allen reel sang a nice song, the new backing got stretched and the native run loomis wanted more.

I wandered down the river, stopping now and again to cast at a fish, putting a couple of fish on the bank and in general avoiding any thoughts whatsoever from entering my head. I came to a shallow stretch of river that is often home to some large fish, and I paused on the bank, scanning ahead for disturbances or tails breaking the surface. The fish were there.

The pictures don't look like much, but this was a big fish, actively tailing in the shallows. I crept to within about thirty feet, stooped at the waist due to a lack of cover on the bank. The fish kept eating and casually tailing. I am a big believer in staying on the bank when possible. In the water, sound travels easily and there is no way I would have gotten within thirty feet of this fish had I been in the water. I snuck along the shoreline, checked my flies for weeds and made a couple of false casts to the side to gauge the distance. The first cast was good, and this fish was active. With a push of it's tail the carp charged the sinking flies and I quickly set the hook. Most big carp fight with less guts than the mid size ones, but this fish fought valiantly. I kept up the pressure and several runs later I slid the big fish onto the beach. I busted out my scale for this one and he weighed in at 22 lbs. A great fish!

The rest of the day played out well. All told, I landed roughly 6-8 fish. I had a near miss with a really big me, I know the stigma of "the big one that got away" but when every fish you catch was spotted, stalked and SEEN it becomes obvious when you have a shot at a really big one. Today, the accursed weed bed cost me a fish that would have been in the running for my biggest of the year. So it goes. I did land some great fish, and stored many visuals to keep me warm through the winter. I am already planning some production tying, and thinking ahead to the warm waters of spring and summer.

Another season closed.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Saturday, October 02, 2010

October Carp

The cool water was the only reminder that it is now October. Not a hint of clouds, nothing but sun soaked flats and my own shadow to keep me company as I walked along. Late in the day the worlds biggest beaver leapt out of the brush and splashed into the river, stopping my heart for at least a second or two, but other than that beaver all I saw was the sun sparkling off the water...and some carp of course. I did find a few carp.

Despite the heat and sun I was glad that I wore my waders today. The water has cooled noticeably, and the carp are slowly disappearing from the flats. I started fishing in the morning and walked about a mile before spotting my first fish. It took a while before the shallows warmed to whatever magic degree the carp want, but eventually the fished started showing up in ones and twos, and then threes and fours. I only landed nine fish, mainly for two reasons. One, the numbers of fish were down significantly from mid summer or post spawn fishing. And two, I told myself I was only going to cast at fish that I thought were in the teens or better. I managed to make good on that, and the smallest fish I caught was likely between 12-14 lbs. I weighed three fish, one was just over 20, one almost 24, and this awesome 18 lb mirror.

It was a bittersweet day. With every step, every cast, and every release I knew the season was ending. I couldn't help but think about the long winter ahead. Yeah, the deschutes will be there and winter steelhead, but my fishing joy is the stalk on the flats.

One take in particular was everything that you look for when carp fishing with a flyrod. As I walked along a narrow gravel bar I spotted a carp tailing lazily about a hundred feet away. I crept into position, using the bushes to kill my profile and moving ever so slowly on the cobble. The light was perfect and I could see the fish in high def, facing directly at me and casually moving along and feeding every couple of inches. My first cast was a good one, and the front fly of my two fly rig landed about a foot to the left and almost even with the feeding carp. It took only a second for the worm to hit the bottom in that shallow water, but despite a near perfect cast, the carp ignored the worm and moved forward a few more inches. I made a few short strips, envisioning the green fly hopping along the bottom like a tasty nymph. The carp suddenly turned it's head sharply to the right and i clearly saw big carp lips extend like a tube and then suddenly snap shut. I set the hook quickly and the fish shook his head violently and blasted for deep water. Just a perfect take, and it so happened to be the last fish of the day. Likely the season as well.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

September in OR? That blue sky is killing me. Salmon in the rivers but all I want to do is catch a few more carp.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

September Carp

I saw an awful lot of this today.

I headed out today thinking that this would be my last outing of the season. The weather is about to turn cool and the rains are coming, but today I had full on sun and just enough wind for a tiny chop on the water. Just perfect conditions. The water temp is definitely down a bit and while the carp are there, I didn't see the insane numbers that I had been seeing this spring and summer. Instead of groups of 10-30 carp I saw a lot of single and double fish. As the day wore on I saw larger groups coming together to sun, but most of the day was about spotting individual tailers.

The fish were all good size with a ton of 12-16 lbers. I landed two that were right at 20 lbs and several in the upper teen range. I did spot some bigger fish and had a few chances to put it together but man! Those real pigs are tough! Even when I put the fly in the perfect spot the bigger fish seemed to sense the tippet sinking and simply bolt. Next spring I might go down to 2x tippet and see if that helps, though landing a 25-35 lb carp on 2x tippet could create it's own challenges.

I didn't keep track of fish landed but it had to be somewhere between 20 or 30. It seemed like the fish were aggressive and with the light chop on the water I got great shot after great shot. Just a fantastic day of fishing.

Two words on the buff. Love it. If you fish in the sun a lot, throw out the sunscreen and go long sleeves, sun gloves and a buff. I find it very comfortable, not too hot and I never feel sun or wind burnt. Plus, it makes you feel like a ninja when you are sneaking up on a big tailer.

I caught this nice mirror on a little gravel bar. The fish had it's back completely out of the water.

I was struck with how thick the fish looked today. No fat spawning bellies but every carp was big and broad with heavy shoulders. With the large number of teens fish I was shot by the end of the day. 12-14 lb carp are like the 6 ft 6 inch two guard on an NBA team. Fast and powerful but still plenty agile. The 15-17 lbers are the real studs though. Think the 6 ft 8 inch small forwards like Lebron James. Those fish absolutely light you up and rip line from your reel like you hooked a semi truck on the freeway. I caught a few lebrons and carmelo's today, as well as some Dwayne Wade's and Brandon Roy's. Still looking to land a Shaq though.

A few athletes there.

All in all, one of my better trips this year. Nice to end the season (maybe) on a bang. Something about carping just gets me. The hunt, the stalk, the cast, the just feels right. Even after a satisfying trip like today, I am ready for more. But maybe I should wash my hat first.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Homecoming on the big C

The trip to lake MI has my head loaded with images. Crystal clear water, shallow flats and miles and miles of sweet carp habitat. Unfortunately we only had a legitimate shot at one carp, and yes, I blew it. Next time.

But with the carp itch far from sated I hit the road today with one thing in mind. Big fish. The columbia is loaded with carp but the truly big fish hang out in much different water than your average big c carp. If you want a big one, ignore the mud flats, shallow bays and standard carping fare. First and foremost, large carp want access to deep water, so I fish edges and drop offs. I also look for larger gravel and cobble, even boulders. This means covering more water, and fishing a 2-3 ft window rather than a big flat. Today I charged through the shallow stuff pretty quickly I. Order to get to the marginal water that I hoped would hold the fish I was after.

Of course, on the way through the flats I had to make a few casts! I think I landed the first three tailers I saw, which felt pretty good. The sun was high, the fish were there and the only thing really holding me back was the wind. Hands down, this was the worst wind I have ever fished in (yes roughfisher, even worse than those spring). Many times during the day I nearly fell in after a particularly powerful gust. An hour or two into my walk and it was basically impossible to cast into the wind. I had to stealth my way into an angle on the fish I. Order to have a chance of getting the fly to them.

I moved along the marginal water and had my share of shots at large fish. I hooked three. The first one popped off quickly and I found a scale on my hook. Snag job. Big fish #2 got off in a weedbed, as did #3. I just couldn't put it all together today. The third big one I hooked was scary, freakishly big. Easily the biggest common I have ever hooked. That fish just materialized as a huge fantail near the surface of some deep water on a drop off. I crouched down and snuck close as it slowly pivoted and moved in to shallow water. I flipped the fly to the fish from about 20 ft away, and it took in a classic "stop tailing and move forward" manner. I was stunned that it came together so easily, but not so stunned that I missed the hook set. Unfortunately, the weeds were close by and the fish got off quickly. What a beast though. It is only a matter of time before I get one that size.

I walked back through the shallows and stuck some more fish. The biggest of the day was a 16 lber that I caught off a gravel bar. It was a really nice day on the water. The big fish are out there, but it might be next year before I get to them again.

Flying home shortly from a nice stay in MN. On a whim Wendy Berrell, his brother Joe and I ran east to the legendary flats of lake MI in search of carp. We walked miles of spectacular water but the carp were simply AWOL. We saw two sure thing fish, only one that we had a legit chance to catch (and I botched it...ugh). Joe did break in his new 7 wt on this sweet smallie that we caught on a random river crossed on the drive home. I literally do not know the River's name. We ended up with 6-7 smallies but no carp. I will go back though. Lake MI is stunning.

More pics of the beautiful flats of lake MI when I get home.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Crummy camera phone picture

Inspiration provided once again by Wendy Berrell. Nothing too fancy but these will get eaten. Hopefully soon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More pics courtesy of Dr. Cane

More pics from a weekend filled with memories. Here is Coleman bringing his first carp to hand.

A nice mirror I caught, actually my last fish of the trip.

We had a couple of doubles and one near miss triple.

What a great weekend!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Coleman, Columbia, carp and Dr. Cane

Coleman's first carp came much as I had envisioned it would. We stepped to the water and stood still for a few minutes scanning for fish. Twenty five feet out and slightly to our left a solitary tailer chowed down on the sand flat, likely enjoying a breakfast of clams and aquatic worms, maybe a nymph or two. Coleman had no trouble spotting the fish, but his first cast was too far from the business end of the carp. He lined up a second cast and I watched as the flies sank in perfect position, just a few inches away and slightly to the side. The flies touched down and the carp quickly closed the gap and ate. I yelled "set!" and Coleman hammered the hook home and fought his first carp to a standstill.

It was a good omen, and actually our second fish of the trip. An early start had led to both Dr. Cane and myself getting a couple of shots at tailers on the way to our primary locale and I managed to stick a nice fish.

The sun was high, the fish were active, and the company was great. We wandered down the river spotting fish and tossing flies. Not every carp took and not every take was spotted, but we found enough action to keep us busy. It didn't take Dr. Cane long to drop a laser like cast on an active fish and bring him to the net.

I spent most of the first day just meandering along, going back and forth between Coleman and dr. Cane with the net and enjoying their company and the general excitement that comes with tailing carp. I was standing next to Coleman a few hours into day one and watched him place a perfect 35 ft cast to a cruising carp. The cruiser paused for a split second and my right arm twitched a bit as I watched it unfold. Before I could think to say anything Coleman lifted the rod and we watched this beautiful mirror zip off the flats and listened to some sweet reel music.

The rest of the day played the same tune. We left the flats in the evening, tired, satisfied and already thinking about the next day.

We woke to a river that looked completely different than anything I had ever fished. The flats were dry piles of gravel and mud. The water was low and the wind was gone. Not a stitch of wind or a ripple to be seen. This combination proved tough and we spent the better part of the day spooking the few fish we found out of the tiny bit of remaining shallows. After quite a bit of exploring we found a large group of carp heavily feeding on the edge of a mud flat. With the water clouded up from the feeding we were able to walk right into the middle of the fish and Coleman put on a zen carp master show. Fishing only the sjw he dapped carp on his left, he dapped carp on his right, and he dapped carp from right under my feet. Dr. Cane and I could only laugh as Coleman put on a sjw clinic.

Chris and I stuck some fish as well, and I finally put a hook in a real pig. This one scaled out at just over 20 lbs, the big fish of the trip

We did have a triple going but the fly on Dr. Cane's fish popped right at his feet. I will put up the double picture and some more pics of all of us after Dr. Cane emails them to me.

All in all it was a great trip. Both Dr. Cane and Coleman are great anglers and fishing with them was a pleasure. Coleman took right to the zen nature of carp fishing. On the ride home I asked him, "what were you keying on to figure out when to set the hook?".

Coleman kind of thought about it for a minute and said "I can't really say. I just figured they were eating the fly."

That is carp on the fly in the big C.