Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fishing is fun

From time to time it is good to be reminded that fishing is fun. It doesn't need to be taken seriously or fretted over and planned to death (though sometimes planning is fun, I get that). Fishing is, and always should be, fun.

The intent today was to leave the rod in the car, and turn my kids (armed with long handled nets) loose on the spawning carp that would be relatively easy picking buried in the shallow grass. We didn't plan on the river jumping up and turning the shallows into chest deep water, and dispersing the fish to the ends of the earth. No big groups were spotted, though the lack of sunlight might have had something to do with that. Still, we caught a few.

My kids are troopers...and have probably touched more carp than your average 10 fly anglers combined. The best part? All they see is joy. They love the fish...they like to see them jump and swim, and they like to hold them and look at their fins. Trashfish? Garbage fish? Bottom dweller? All they see is life and joy. It is pretty damned refreshing.

And also, I know very few activities that can elicit cooperation and friendship in two young siblings. Fishing is fun, but it is also miraculous.



Thursday, April 26, 2012

Big Carp

I tend to define big carp as anything over 15 lbs. Granted, this is an arbitrary number, but a 15 lb carp out here is roughly a third bigger than your average fish, so it feels right. Plus, a 15 lber is always notable. I hear a lot about "big carp" from gear guys I run into, or random people...I guess I spend a lot of time asking "seen any carp around here?" so I shouldn't be too surprised when these "huge" carp turn out to be normal 7-10 lb fish upon exploration. Most people simply haven't held a lot of 10+ lb fish...heck, most fisherman (myself included prior to my carp days) haven't held that many 10+ lb fish. Word of advice to any serious carp guys...carry a scale. I only weigh fish I think will hit the "big" limit, but a scale is easy to carry and impossible to refute. Carp get big, and it is nice to know just how big that fish is...and difficult to figure out without a proper scale of reference.

One thing to look at...the size of their tail. Big carp have big rudders.

Another sure fire way to spot a really big carp is their shoulders. You aren't going to pick up a big fish with one hand.

Don't forget about that big mouth either!

When it comes to carp, length is overrated! The really big girls are big all over.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Spawning Carp

Yeah, not my favorite targets, but ask yourself this. If you were sitting on a couch, relaxing after an extended spawning session and someone handed you a sandwich would you eat it? Granted, you probably are not going to get up, walk to the kitchen, and make yourself a turkey sandwich, but if someone hands you one? Yep, carp will eat to if you feed it to them.

So Van and I walked into this scenario today. Carp everywhere, and 99 percent of them spawning. I think yesterday's sun bumped the temps up and every carp in the area flooded the fields and had a good old time getting down. We heron stalked through their midsts, and stuck some decent fish...including Van's first, second, and third ever carp on the fly. The obligatory Statue of Liberty pose.

Nice fat belly for a handhold on that one. A few more of Van's fish:

Three things played heavily into your success with these fish. First, we needed a heavy fly to punch through the blades of grass and general vegetation surrounding the fish. Second, targets: if the fish were moving on this day, they were spawning...casting at sedentary fish (preferably with their mouths pulsing) was the key. Third (and something that is always true) was stealth. Spawning fish are NOT spooky, but if you are inching closer to a perfect, laid up fish and you step on, or move quickly and spook the spawners they blow a lot of fish in a hurry.
All in all, a great day. Thanks for the company Van! Full sun, 80 degrees, and carp all over...I even caught a couple myself!



Friday, April 20, 2012

Lake MI

Big flies, big flats and big fish.

Worth a few daydreams for sure.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Back in the saddle again

Sort of. The water is too cold, and there is too much of it so the fish simply are not where I want them to be...but they are still out there.

This girl tipped the scales at just over 17 lbs...much fatter and better shoulders than she looks in that picture. The take was painfully perfect. The soft hackle drifted to the bottom just inches in front and to the left of her head and with an ever so subtle turn she picked it up.

I got to fish with my friend David today, always a good time. David is a perfect companion for a day like today, because we spent more time driving and looking without fly rods in hand than we did stalking through the water. Eventually we found some areas that were warm enough, and got down to some carping.

Today was all about the soft hackle. Between the two of us we landed about 14-15 carp, all on green soft hackles. A few big fish were spotted, but as usual, the big ones got away. Most of the fish were 10 lbers, with a few 13s and 14s thrown in there. With the water so high, we both felt like we came out of today pretty well.

Big thanks to David for heading out on a wild goose chase in crappy conditions and being patient enough to stick with it until we found a few fish. Any day in the water is a good day, but good company and a little carp action never hurts!



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Saturday at 1030

I will be at the Orvis store in Portland (Bridgeport Village) to talk about carp. This should be pretty informal, so I hope there is a decent turnout and people bring questions. Looking forward to showing some pictures and talking carp!



Sunday, April 08, 2012

To catch more carp, cast at less

For the most part, I carp in target rich environments. It is not uncommon for me to see a hundred (or more) carp in a full day of fishing. Granted, I tend to cover a lot of water but carp are a schooling aren't really going to find just one fish very often (but if you do, is probably a monster).

So what do you do with so many targets? It can be more than a bit overwhelming. One year I slipped into an area with a buddy and we were instantly surrounded by dozens and dozens of carp. The water thrashed with spawning, feeding and cruising carp and I watched my buddy frantically flipping flies here, there and everywhere, barely giving the fish time to find the fly before another target presented itself and he moved to that fish. I quickly reminded him to take a breath, slow down and fish to one fish. I watched as he gathered himself, made a perfect cast and hooked up nearly instantly.

The simple truth of the matters that not all carp are going to eat your fly. These aren't trout are not going to"talk them into eating" very often. Yes, it can be done (my personal favorite is the mustache technique) but in general, a carp is either in the mood or it isn't.

A few years ago I made a conscious effort to cast at less fish. What happened? I caught more. Pretty simple really. If I was reasonably certain I was looking at a negative fish, I skipped it. Why cast at a fish that is likely to spook and blow a bunch more fish in the process? In those situations you are better off sneaking past the fish and finding another target.

Not always easy to do. I sat with my old high school basketball coach Julio for over and hour one day, casting at sunning carp that were clearly negative because he simply couldn't walk past them. Within ten minutes of leaving we spotted a slow cruiser and he nailed that fish. Despite the logic of having so many targets, it simply doesn't add up to cast at negative fish. And possibly the toughest fish to let go? A blown feeder. Take it from me, if you are casting to a tailer or slow cruiser and the fish makes you or the fly and starts to vacate the area...DO NOT throw one last cast after him. Look, if the fish is onto you it ain't going to eat, and that last cast can change the attitude from, "something ain't right" to "holy shit an eagle!". The last thing a stealthy, buff covered ninja carper needs is a hole in the water big enough to spook every carp within 100 yards.

If you want to catch more carp, cast at less.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

I wussed out and did eenie, meanie, minie, mo

Probably spelled it wrong, but you get the point. Sending 90 flies to Mark Saven in MI, who hit me up on Facebook. New to carp, but he lives in of monster carp. Go get em Mark!

I hope some of this is in your future.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Carp on the fly talk

I will wrap up the fly giveaway in a day or two, but wanted to throw it out there that I will be at the Orvis store at Bridgeport Village on April 14th to talk carp. Come by at 1030 and say hello if you are in the area. My laptop crashed so this one may turn out to be more of a question and answer type of deal, but I will bring lots of pictures and flies.

Hope to see some of you there! Bring questions if you have them and I will do my best to help out.


Sunday, April 01, 2012

Looking for a beginner--fly give away

I remember it well: first day on the water with a "real" fly fisherman and the big difference between us? I had about twelve flies in a foam box and the other guy came armed with a full on arsenal. Starting out, getting a decent amount of flies is tough. So here are 90 some that need a new home.

Disclaimer, I tied most of them, so they probably suck, but I tried to lay out a decent variety here. Of course, they are and will be carp centric, but let's be honest...trout aren't that smart anyway and will eat damn near anything. I think a guy could find flies for any situation in this batch, except no dainty dry flies. Hell, there is even a big old pike streamer in there.

One more disclaimer...nearly all of these have been fished, which probably means they have been inside a fish's mouth. There are probably still bits of tippet attached to more than a few as well.

So if you are a new fly fisherman heading into your first or second season and looking at an empty fly box drop me a line. I would prefer to give them locally so I can meet up and tell you what I use for what, but mostly, I just want to help a newer guy fuel the addiction. Hoping someone sees this, and wants a bunch of used, but well loved flies.