Friday, August 31, 2012


Thanks to 12 wt. LLC for generously donating a pair of their sun wt gloves to the winner of a carp on the fly Facebook contest. The rules are simple. In the comments section on my Facebook page, post your best potential vanity license plate for a carp on the fly guy...7 letters or less. My wife will pick the winner on Monday. Go here to enter, and feel free to share the post and give 12 wt a little love! Enter as many times as you want!

Carp on the Fly

I consider sun gloves an essential piece of gear, and I dig the 12 wt gloves!


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Some days you get your clock cleaned.

After all, this is Carp on the fly. No one said it was easy. Today...was very tough. I would like to chalk it up to the dead calm conditions, the complete and total lack of wind that made getting a fly to a fish without spooking said fish virtually impossible; but there were several other factors in play.

One, my piss poor casting technique. On a good day, I am an average caster (at best). Today, I was a novice. When I wasn't hitting bushes or trees I was lining fish or hopelessly tangling my two fly rig. Granted, the fish were spooking at the slightest plop of a fly in the mirror like surface, but I seemed to add to that problem by either hitting the fish in the head with the fly, or covering fish in a pile of fly line. Not my best performance.

Two, my incredibly poor decision making. Hmmm...two fish at 25 ft, inevitably one is more likely to eat than the other...usually I can tell. Today I just cast over the back of one to get to the other and blew both fish when the front fish was likely the eater anyway. Strong work.

Three, my general clumsiness. This one really irks me. On a day when stealth was paramount, and moving with no noise, no push of water, no clink of gravel meant the difference between a target and a spooked fish, I stumbled around like I was wearing stilts. I would love to simply chalk this up to a bad day, but in reality the last vestiges of my former athletic ability are slipping away. Getting old sucks.

Four...strip setting. I tried it twice today, and nicked two fish that quickly popped off. Either I suck at strip setting, or it just doesn't work on super picky, hyper spooky fish that refuse to do anything more than mouth a fly like an old man who forgot his dentures trying to eat corn on the cob. probably both.

Fifth, and most telling that today simply wasn't my day...a complete and utter lack of faith. Many times I found myself saying "I should have set the hook" as a fish bolted away. The fly would sink, the fish would turn, my entire body would twitch and scream "set the hook!" and my traitor mind would say "No!". And the fish would spook. You cannot underestimate the importance of faith on a successful day.

So yeah...none of this shit is easy, and despite my general grumping above, I don't feel too bad. I landed three fish, and David caught four, so really we did ok. We saw some big fish, and David landed one, a sweet 19 lber that just pounced on his soft hackle. David's big girl saved the day for both of us...watching that baby eat was some sweet theater. Carping is, at it's heart, a game of numbers. You need many targets. You need many opportunities. You need many presentations because you are going to screw them up! Accept it, move on to the next target. Find the next opportunity, and make the next presentation. If you do that, then even on a day when you get your clock cleaned, you can leave feeling pretty good.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Simply Put

I don't understand how anyone could look at a tailing carp and not get excited. I know my heart rate goes up, my body posture changes and I feel like I am taking a free throw at the end of a big game. And if it is a big tail...everything goes double time. This one had a big tail.

She was coming straight at me down the shoreline, casting from side to side, and occasionally sticking her tail completely put of the water as she dug something out of the gravel. The sediment cloud trailed behind her at least 6 or 7 feet. I hate the head on shot, but knew I wasn't going to get a better angle, so I lined it up and made the cast at about 30 feet. Normally, I blow this type of cast every time, but today the soft hackle landed about 10 inches in front and 5 inches to the side of the big fish. She darted forward, turned, and I set the hook. Nothing like a 25 lb fish blasting into your backing to get your heart rate up!

I managed quite a few fish today. They were in the gravel and in search and destroy mode, which makes for relatively easy pickings. They never tailed long in one spot, so when I spotted a tailer I would actually wait until it had leveled out to move on, rather than put the fly on a tailer in a sediment cloud. When cruising from food to food, they were aggressive and simply jumped on the soft hackle.

Two fish over twenty lbs today...and plenty of teens size apex athletes. There simpy is nothing like carp on the fly!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Carp myth #7

"Carp live in ugly places."


I took the family into the Gorge today on a blackberry hunting expedition. When we got to the river JJ and I took a short walk and spotted some decent carp tailing in the shallows. A green soft hackle and 40 ft cast later (the Access 8 wt is pretty sweet) and he was duking it out with this nice 14 lber. JJ won.

It struck me though, how often I hear or read about Brownliners, drainage ditches, sewer pipes and the like when it comes to carp. Don't hate on the fish for being capable of living in the places mankind has done our best to destroy. Out here on my beloved Big C you can find carp anywhere, including the glory and grandeur of the Gorge. Trust me, it qualifies as beautiful.

So does this place:

And this place ain't bad either:

Truth is, carp live where they can...they just have an amazing ability to adapt. Where we choose to fish for them is really up to us.


Friday, August 17, 2012

It is not always glamorous

McTage calls it "Carping's dirty little secret." I won't call it dirty, just damned effective.


To get that close you need a couple of things to line up for you. One, the fish needs to be in some cover (or feeding obliviously). Two, you need something to break up your silhouette. Three, you need the wind or waves to mask the sound of your approach. And four, you need to be a stealthy SOB.

Don't be afraid to bring your fly line inside the guides. Carp are generally lazy creatures. They like to be fed.

So dap that soft hackle right next to his mouth. I bet he eats it.

It might not be a tight loop and sixty foot cast, but you will store up some sweet visual memories. And you won't miss the take.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I took some of the Carp-pocalypse loot out for a spin this evening. I haven't put a line on the Access reel yet, so I tried it out with my Multi tip 8 wt line. I used both a sink tip and the floating and enjoy the Access 8 wt. It is a tip flex rod and feels very fast. For years I was a big fan of slower action rods, but I find myself gravitating towards the faster stuff now. Granted, they don't seem to be as accurate in close, but I am slowly converting.

Way too early for conclusions, but I am excited to get a nice floating line on the reel and see how this bad boy handles a Columbia River Monster. Might be the perfect rod for late season gravel bar fish...long casts and lots of wind!

Thanks again Orvis!


Sunday, August 12, 2012


Big thanks to Adam from the Orvis Portland store, Leland from the Orvis Bellevue store, Idlewylde, the Native Fish Society and Ninkasi Brewing for putting on the first Carp-acolypse on the shores of banks lake! This was a great two day event, and I can't thank those involved enough. The event was well organized, with fun rules and fantastic prizes. The turnout was great, and I got to meet some experienced and brand new carpers. Truly a fun time chasing my favorite fish in a great setting and meeting a bunch of great fisherman...on to the results.

Overall, the fishing was tough on both days, but day two treated us a lot better. David and I figured out a fly that worked for us (the venerable carp wooly) and I managed to land five carp on the day while David put one carp on the bank. Jim and Travis struck out again, despite covering a ton of water. Heading in to the check in at three we had only seen one other carp landed and felt pretty good about our chances to win the team event.

Team Event, 5 fish total inches...winner: Team Got Backing? (me, David, Mr. P and Trashfisher), prize was a guided steelhead trip! I was lucky to fish with some all star carpers, and we pulled out the win.

Smallest carp...prize, and Orvis Helios: winner, Mike Gamby (top picture). So cool to see Mike win this rod with his first EVER carp on the fly, a tiny 18 incher! Way to go Mike!

Second smallest Carp...prize, Orvis Access 8 wt: winner, John Montana. I caught the three smallest carp I have caught in a long time, and Mike still beat me by a full inch.

Ugliest Carp...prize, Orvis Hydros reel: winner, David Nakamoto. Nice to see my partner win this reel with a truly ugly fish we called scarface. I called it the second we landed the fish...nasty bugger.

Second ugliest carp...prize, Orvis Access Reel: winner, John Montana. My fish we called Talon...all scratched up from a few run ins with an Osprey.

Biggest carp...prize, Idlewylde swag: winner, John Montana. I lucked into this one. David lost a beast of a fish in the weeds that would have won easily.

This really was a lot of fun, and I got to meet a ton of great anglers. All told there were about 25-30 of us out there, the newfound respect for carp is evident. Thanks again to the sponsors, and everyone for participating. Thanks also to the members of team Got Backing, I was lucky to get to fish with three of the best carpers I know and it paid off. Will see you guys for a guided trip this winter!





Saturday, August 11, 2012

Carp-acolypse update

Tough day one. There were some fish around, but they didn't want to play. Despite all the anglers working hard and covering a lot of water, only two fish were caught. Both were twenty four inches, typical banks lake fish. One was caught by one of the idelwylde anglers, and I managed the other one. Mine was a mirror though...I love mirrors.

More tomorrow, hopefully the fish decide to join the fun.


Carp-acolypse update

Tough day one. There were some fish around, but they didn't want to play. Despite all the anglers working hard and covering a lot of water, only two fish were caught. Both were twenty four inches, typical banks lake fish. One was caught by one of the idelwylde anglers, and I managed the other one. Mine was a mirror though...I love mirrors.

More tomorrow, hopefully the fish decide to join the fun.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

"A" water

Today, for the first time in 2012 I got to fish my "A" water. It isn't that my "B", "C", "D", or "E" water is that big of a drop off, but I love my "A" spot. I know it well, and know where to expect to see a tailer in the gravel, or a slow cruiser working a bank. The fish are tough, but when you bring your "A" game to your "A" water...good things happen.

That fish tipped the scales at 23 lbs, and came shortly after I landed a 21 lber. I had my "A" game today. Incidentally, I had decided to call Wendy Berrell while walking a dead stretch, and hooked, fought, and landed the 21 lber with Wendy on the phone. That was a first.

The fish were active. I saw tons of tailing fish, most working the gravel bars and edges of mud flats, and they responded well to a soft hackle with a worm tail (thanks Travis!). This was carping at its best. With good visibility I was spotting fish a long way off, and got to make long casts and key on body turns and tail twitches...heady stuff! I put the stalk on a few fish and got in close to see them reach up and suck in the soft hackle as it sank near their mouth. Some fantastic takes today. All told, I must have landed around 25 carp...two over twenty, one 18 lber and a bunch of 15s.

I lost two or three fish because I didn't set the hook hard enough. Little known carp on the fly rule #1: when you know a carp has eaten your fly, set the hook! Hard! Don't be a wussy and half set or gently lift the rod...hammer the fish when you know he has eaten the fly!

Which brings me to Little known carp on the fly rule #2: if you don't know the carp has taken your fly...go fish for trout. Seriously, they are way easier.


Sunday, August 05, 2012

The John Day

It doesn't take much to make a memory when you are blessed with two kids like mine. All you need is time together, and wonderful things happen. Today, we spent time together, and added a river that has been on my list since moving to OR. Memories were made.


The John Day is amazing. I have never seen so many bass in my life, and we only walked a small stretch of river. Bass leapt in the shallows at dragonflies, bass spooked off the shoreline as we walked along, and bass repeatedly, and with utter abandon attacked the jigs my kids threw.


I carried a fly rod, hoping to see a carp or two but I spent most of the day going from kid to kid, helping to unhook a fish, or snapping pictures, or just wanting a close up of a smile. I did see three carp, one solid 15 lb range fish tailing. I made one cast, and the instant my fly hit the water a bass ate it and spooked the carp. I can't really describe the amount of bass in that river. Both of my kids landed at least 30 fish, and were hooking bass on almost every cast. Granted, most of the fish were small, but they weren't small to JJ and Elia.

If you live here in OR and haven't been to the John Day, you are missing out. My kids were all smiles for the couple of hours we spent on the river. We will be back.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012


Get your butt to the nearest Orvis store and sign up folks...Carp-ocalypse is coming up fast!

I am in. Hope to see a bunch of you there!