Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day

My dad proudly served with Apache Troop, 1st of the 9th in Vietnam. "Bloody Bart" was a hero not only to me, my sisters and my mom but to his beloved brother's in arms. Memorial Day meant something to him as it should to us all. Thank you to all the Veterans out there...thank you for your courage, your service and your sacrifice. Many of you helped bring my dad home safe all those years ago, a fact he reminded me about every Memorial Day. Thanks for all that you do.

We miss you every day dad.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Nature of things

Just completed three days of hard core carping on the big C with Dan Frasier of Carp Pro. You really can't understate the hard core part in the previous sentence. This wasn't a casual bit of wandering around looking for tailing fish...this was a full on search and seek mission. We walked miles and miles of river and roads, stumbling over rip rap, tripping on cobble, busting through thorns and blackberries, dodging snakes and spiders, dealing with clouds, wind, and rain and casting to numerous, numerous carp.

It was glorious.

As reports and pictures come out over the next week from Dan, myself, Mr. P. and Travis a few things have to be stated. Chiefly...these big C fish are TOUGH. The nature of the difficulty is simple...they don't move for flies. They don't chase streamers, or bolt forward a foot to eat a crayfish fly. Nope...a happy fish on the Columbia won't move from whatever is currently making it happy unless something spooks the fish or the food runs out in which case the fish is no longer happy and won't be happy to see your fly. Basically, you need to SINK your fly to within 4-8 inches of a happy fish in order to get a take. You can strip the fly into that window but in most cases that will spook the fish. If you can sink the fly into that window without spooking the fish, they will usually eat the fly. Sounds simple...because then all you have to do is detect the exact moment that the fish stopped eating what it was previously eating and decided to eat your fly. You have about a one second window to detect that take and set the hook before the fish spits the fly. In isn't easy.

Combine all of the above in terms of presentation and detection with the method and you can begin to see that three days of this border on the line between demanding and exhausting. We move, we walk, we search. Finding fish isn't a problem...finding happy fish that will take a fly generally isn't a problem either, but it does require that you cover a lot of water. On foot. Wading thigh deep, frequently over difficult rocks and slippery cobble. I just love this shit.

If all of the above is at odds with the frequent posts on this blog showing large fish and big numbers of fish it is easily explainable, and not by the quality of my own personal angling ability. Truth be told, I am a relatively mediocre caster and fisherman...Dan easily trumped me in the casting department throwing loops that I can only dream of and putting the fly basically exactly where he intended. Dan can fish. Fortunately for me, success on the big C comes down not on technical casting ability, or good eyes to see the fish or secret flies that the fish love...quite simply it comes down to having lots and lots of targets. Given how difficult the method, presentation and detection are when it comes to Columbia river fish, if you only saw a handful of fish per day it would be brutal! But instead...we see hundreds. Sometimes more. On Saturday I looked out over a big flat that runs 1/2 a mile in all directions, and all I could see was the goldish brown colors of approximately one thousand carp. High sun, light wind, blue skies and a thousand carp on the rich indeed. The trick is that about 950 of those fish are negative, so you are forced to pick through the flats and find the fish that will eat. It is a good problem to have.

So as you read reports in the next week keep these things in mind. This shit isn't easy. We work for the fish. Nothing on the big C is handed over freely...she is a fickle mistress that will stone you with an upriver wind just when your cast to a 25 lb tailer is unfurling, blowing your fly off course and lining the fish. She will murder you with waves, and crush you with slippery rocks that force you to massage your feet each night, wondering just how you are going to cram your swollen heels inside your wading boots the next morning (but knowing full well that YOU WILL stuff those feet in there). But if you put in the time, and take the ass kicking she offers in stride...she will love you too. You will be rewarded with a day like Saturday when the heavens open up, the sun shines and the wind blows the fly right to the sweet spot. You will smile, the carp will feed and your reel will sing the song we all love...those moments are not free. You pay for em, and Dan paid for his.

The Columbia is a glorious place, a place meant to be shared and I am thankful I got the chance to do so with Dan. Thanks for coming out, taking a beating and giving one right back. Stay tuned for more details.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Day Three

Top seven fish: 18, 18, 18, 19, 19, 19, 20.

And we caught a lot more than seven fish.



Friday, May 24, 2013

Day two

Fished with Mr. P, legendary carper. A good time was had by all...including the fish who managed to avoid most of our hooks by hiding in the glare provided by the "devil" clouds. Always good to fish with Jim. Bottom line...we are seeing fish, and sticking a few. I think Dan might like the big C.



Thursday, May 23, 2013

Day One

Day one on the big C with Dan Frasier of Carp Pro is in the books. In a word...tough. Dan got a pretty good ass whooping for most of the day, with fish either refusing, or taking the fly so subtly that hooks ups were rare. By late in the day things started to come together. We walked a stretch in the fading light that gave up some fish, including a painfully perfect presentation by Dan on a tailer. The flies fell perfectly, and when the fish made a two inch head turn Dan stuck him like a big C veteran. The day also included a fantastic shot at a heavily feeding 25+ lb fish...quite a sight, but no joy. I will let Dan tell that story.

Fish were caught, memories were stored. Day two tomorrow. Pray for sun for us.



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Win a Helios 2

If someone told you that there was a way you could spend a weekend in the sun fishing for tailing carp, drinking beer with a group of friends, having a great time AND have a chance to win an Orvis Helios 2 what would you do?

Sign up to play! Go HERE for details.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

UT in OR

It has been a pretty good season out west here...many carp have been caught and some days have seen conditions that were simply unbelievable. Frankly, I knew I was due for a big time shellacking at the hands of the Columbia River. That I can accept. As a fisherman, I have had my share of rough days on the water, you just take the good with the bad and let things ride. Unfortunately, my bad mojo caught up with me on the ONE day that Targhee from Utah Stillwaters was in town to chase carp.

Bad conditions amount to three things for me during the season.

1). Lack of direct sunlight. In this sunlight.

2). High water. In this case the river jumped about 200,000 CFS 3 days before Targhee arrived.

3). Wind. In this case we had 15-20 mph, with late day wind that was crushing us at probably 30 mph.

The trump card here is the sun. If you have that, you can scratch out a good day despite the other two. When all three are may be in trouble. Despite the ass kicking trifecta being in place, we hit the river and made shit happen. Conditions dictated that we looked for fish in whatever shadows we could find to avoid glare. This worked, but meant only one of us could really fish at a time. This was fine with me as the main goal here was to get Targhee into some carp. Even with the deck stacked against us, Targhee came through.

Fishing with Targhee was great. Despite the worst possible conditions, he stuck it out, kept walking, kept peering into the glare and hunting for dark shapes in the dark shadows of trees. The takes were nearly imperceptible without the clarity of the sun, so we mostly cued on tiny pauses in the fish's movement, or a barely seen flare of the gills. Very tough stuff, and I was impressed with how Targhee put the fly where he needed it and fought through a total Columbia River ass kicking.

Late in the day, I broke down and put the stalk on a fish. No shadows to use, but I knew the fish was there by following a bubble trail. I stalked right on top of the fish, using the soft but firm bottom to barely move until I was basically standing on top of the active bubble trail. I peered into the glare intently, and after a minute finally spotted the gently moving tail. I dropped the flies where I thought the head was and waited. Eventually...the tail made a sudden, sharp movement, breaking its lazy waving pattern so I set the hook.

Not all ass kicking's are bad.

Big thanks to Targhee for sticking it out...pleasure to fish with you and if anyone gets to UT check him out here. Thanks again!


Thursday, May 09, 2013


I was standing waist deep...Mark and David were downriver of me, stalking some dark shapes off of a branching gravel bar. This mirror (easily identified as such in the clear water) was slow cruising down the bank...headed right toward me. The fish didn't know it was caught, but a slow cruiser on the bank coming within twenty feet of me, my Helios 2 and a hybrid is basically caught.

David spotted this fish tailing, and he and I offered mostly useless and merciless advice as Mark worked the fish. She was facing us, a head on shot, and was happy EXACTLY where she was. She needed to be fed. "Closer...cast again" I kept saying as Mark tried to bonk her on the head with a hybrid. "Perfect!" David breathed when the fly hit the spot. "Twitch...twitch..." And a pregnant pause as I knew the fish had eaten just as Mark's line came tight and the rod bent. He fed her alright.

David and I stood side by side on a narrow stretch, easy familiarity from having fished so often together allowing us to say "this shot is mine" without saying anything. The fish came toward us, 30 feet out and in perfect position. As usual, David's hybrid landed where he wanted it...six inches ahead and six inches to the left of the fish. We both held our breath and waited...then the fish turned his head sharply and the rest was a matter of good knots and clean, unfrayed tippet.

I had taken a moment on the bank. A recent fish had frayed my leader on its dorsal fine, and as I sat and quietly re-rigged my two fly set up and a fresh leader, David and Mark had moved down the bank. I looked up to see David fighting a fish a few hundred yards away, and saw Mark hook up and lose one in the same motion. The fish were active. I took a few steps and saw a target of my own...tailing lazily in knee deep water...feeding, but not frantic. Stately...Isaac Walton style. I almost felt bad showing her the hybrid. Almost.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Sturgeon on the Fly

So yeah...this happened yesterday.

As usual, I was on the flats chasing carp with my buddy David (pictured) and Mark (the man behind the camera). A good day quickly turned into an incredible day. As we walked along looking for tailing carp I spotted a big tail breaking the surface and a cloud of dark black (and big) fish. I frantically pointed the spectacle out to Mark and David, and then like a complete idiot, I cast at a roughly 15 lb carp. With me hooked up for the next few minutes, David and Mark stalked the fish alone.

As they got closer, they knew it was a group of four sturgeon, feeding and basically tailing on a thigh deep gravel bar. David slipped into position and cast a size 8 hybrid to the lead sturgeon. Unbelievably...the fish ate the fly.

By this time I had joined them (silently cursing the 15 lb carp I had just released) and the three of us sort of stood there stunned while the fish headed for deep water. We knew that we were not even going to think about keeping the fish, so David absolutely put the wood to this fish. Rod straining and 10 lb floro tippet creaking...he pushed his gear to the limit trying to bring the fish to the shallows. I took off my camera and got ready to wrestle with this fish if necessary. On the second trip into shallow water I got a window and managed to stick my woefully small carp net over the head of the sturgeon, and then quickly jumped onto my knees and got ahold of the tail. We got the fish under control, snapped a few pictures and smiled as she darted back out into the river.


What a moment...a feeding sturgeon eating a size 8 hybrid carp fly in the shallows. Unbelievable catch by my friend, and something I won't forget. Thanks David and Mark...what a day!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Contest time!

Head on over to my Facebook page for a chance to win some cool stuff from H&H Outfitters. You know you want this shirt and hat combo!


Winning is easy! Post a picture (that you took!) that shows your carp love to my Facebook page. Tag H&H Outfitters in the description and that is it. The boys over at H&H will pick a winner on Friday. They may be influenced by comments, likes, shares etc. but something tells me a good photo that shows your carp love will bring home the prize. Big thanks to H&H, lets see some pictures!


Wednesday, May 01, 2013

H&H Outfitters

Worth checking out...for one thing, there is this:

Good stuff from some local (to me) dudes. I like it.


Check em out at H&H Outfitters.