Saturday, May 31, 2014

Day three


Day three...where we basically destroy all carp in our vicinity. We showed up at the river and as I led the way through some brush to the flats...I spooked three carp. Moments later we all had carp on the line, and that pretty much sums up the day.

Three guys...all fishing basically the same water but we had so many targets it didn't matter. On the day both Travis and Justin were over 20 fish to hand, and I landed a minimum of 30. Just incredible fishing. Everywhere we looked we found fish. Most were cruising or tailing, no fish truly spawning but they all had it on their mind.

At one point Wendy and Travis took a break to drink a beer. I caught a carp. Not to be outdone they both stepped back into the water with a beer in one hand. They both hooked up in minutes. Just sick fishing. I was pounding on tailing carp with a trouser worm, but the hybrid got more than its share as well.

This mirror was a highlight. In full cloud cover Wendy spotted the fish seeking food in the rocks near the bank. I flashed the video camera just as he cast to, and stuck the fish with a perfect presentation. We also recorded a triple, pictured above. With the high water the real challenge was taking the photo. We ended up ducking into a pile of sticks, scrambling into position. I had to one hand my fish, crash around and fire off the was a big mess of grinning carp fisherman!


Oh yeah...and this big monster ate. We were actually walking back to take another look at an area we had worked through quickly and she just sort of appeared in the deep water. I was in position and flipped out a fly...minutes later (yes...minutes) and there was more backing in the water than I have ever seen. It was nuts. Eventually this 23 lb lumpy bigger came to hand.

And that wasn't the end of the highlights! We hit another flat, and walking three abreast we stuck fish after fish as the light fell. We just couldn't stop. As we spread a little farther apart I spotted a big, dark fish up tight. I crept into position and laid a hybrid next to her...immediate set and run. As I battled the fish I heard Wendy tell Travis "This is a big one!" I knew my fish was nice, but this was Wendy's trip, so I clamped down on my line (fish was in the backing) and walked backwards to Wendy and Travis, a couple hundred feet away. I was literally towing this carp with all 90 feet and probably 100 feet of backing in the water. I got the the boys, and watched Travis net a clear 20 plus for Wendy (23 once weighed). At this point, I resumed fighting my fish and when she got close we all realized this was another 20 plus lb fish...a double 20! The tricky part was that due to a gaping hole in my net, we only had one and it currently was occupied with a 23 lb fish. I got her close and reached down and belly scooped her in one shot. The photos show some pretty big smiles.


We fished on in the fading light, three swashbucklers, content. Day three was epic.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day two


Let it be said that my buddy Wendy has some pretty serious carp skills. I have caught carp in 9 states (just whiffed on #10) and I flat out know that the big C carp are as tough as they come. Like everything, it is a matter of forage. Clams don't run, and these carp don't move. You are essentially faced with the task of placing a fly within 4-8 inches of a feeding carp and then determining the exact second that the fish feeds on your artificial rather than whatever the hell it was feeding on before you made the cast. It can be quite a challenge.


Wendy handles it with the ease of a veteran big C carper. He fishes this river about as well as a guy can. So on day two he did his thing. The first stop had some tough stuff...high cloud cover and tricky fish poking in and out of boulders and ledges, but we eased along and got the jump on a few. I stick a bunch of super shallow fish by luck of the draw. We took turns moving up a bank line and I had some good targets. The first stop was just ok, but the second stop was pay dirt.

Conditions did us no favors here either, and we walked right into the teeth of a 30 mph wind. It was brutal. I could barely see as my eyes watered from the wind, but the wind didn't seem to bother Wendy. Halfway down the flat he ignored a tailer, walked right by a prime target and promptly stuck that 20 lber pictured above. The fish blew up in the shallow water, shooting by me and trying to get off of the flat. We took some photos, caught a few more fish and then did something I NEVER do on the big C. We recycled the flat...we walked it again, and still stuck fish. Not something I expect to happen often on my home waters.

We killed the day...fished until there really was no way to keep fishing, but that is just what we do. Two days to go, and we were feeling pretty good. Turned out that the next two days were the best fishing of the entire trip.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day


Thank you to all who serve our country, including my dad, a cobra gunship pilot with Apache Troop, 1st of the 9th. Dad was proud of his service and loved his brothers in arms. This photo was taken on the day he died...leave it to my dad to go with his wading boots still on. I miss you dad!


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Day One

In large part thanks to wonderful wives and kids, Wendy Berrell and I have been able to spend a few days each year fishing together. The trip goes back to shortly after we graduated from college and has taken many shapes over the years. We have hunted big trout on the Deschutes, little trout on the limestone creeks of MN, steelhead on the Clackamas and our famous "grab bag" nymphing trips below the dams in MN (one year we caught 27 different species I believe). The last few years have had a distinctive carp flavor. We have both become enamored with the worlds greatest freshwater fly rod quarry, and it shows in our locations and efforts.

This year was all about my home water on the big C. A few trips ago we had discovered a place we call the Death March, and hadn't been able to fish it together since. Water levels dictate success and even accessibility on the Death March, so things have to come together. We had marginal water this year, but day one was spent stalking the ultra difficult, and extremely large fish of the Death March.

It was a good day. We had full sun, clear water, but zero wind. On the big C wind is often your enemy, but for two reasons. Blowing too hard is an obvious issue, but a dead calm is even worse. You can't get on the fish, and you can barely get a fly to them. Wendy tougher it out...spotted fish at a distance and somehow managed to stick a monster 23 lb female in a location where I have NEVER seen a fish that size before. It was a remarkable fish, made even more amazing by Wendy's calm demeanor. He hooks up and calmy tells me to get the net..."I think it might be a big one."

As is usual on the Death March, we were rewarded for expending the effort. The Hybrid is the fly of choice out there and proved effective as usual. Late in the day we stumbled onto a cluster of cluster I mean 100-200 fish hanging out along the shoreline. They were tired, likely from a full day of spawning, and as we found the right targets within the group, they ate flies well. Day one was a good start, but as we were about to find was going to get a whole lot better.



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The release

More to come on a four day swing with Wendy Berrell (keep an eye on his blog...Wendy writes a hell of a trip report) but for now here are a few pics of Wendy releasing a 19 lber. At the airport, flying to PA today and work and home life will be keeping me busy. We murdered the big C this year though. Roughly 135 carp to hand, and 5 fish over 20 lbs...those are big time numbers for my river.





Sunday, May 11, 2014

Grab YourFly Charters

Yep...fantastic name. Danny and I got out again today, this time with Austin from Grab Your Fly Charters. The target today, a little urban, lake MI carp. I love getting out on lake MI, mostly because the carp out there tend to be neat eaters...they hunt flies down and kill them. Pretty cool.

Today was tough though. Despite great conditions, the carp were in a weird mood. Call it angler error...Austin found carp (big ones) and we spent hours slinging everything imaginable at them, with none to hand. Danny picked up a nice quill back, and late in the day I busted out a hybrid and managed to get a quill back to hand. I also stuck a total Hail Mary carp...minutes to go, I fed a carp a hybrid by drifting it in some current...instant backing. Unfortunately, I had gone down to 2 x, and likely nicked my leader somewhere along the line. As the backing was flying, the leader broke and there is a lake MI carp swimming around with a hybrid in its mouth right now.


All in all another great day with fly rod in hand. I am pretty amazed by the two unique, and fantastic fisheries these guys showed me just outside of Chicago. Crazy stuff...if you are ever in the Windy City, bring a fly rod!





Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Tight

My buddy Justin once wrote, "I appreciate the generosity of my friends." This is a sentiment I hold dear as well, but the amazing thing is the more you get out there in the world, the more you realize just how generous the world really. I appreciate the generosity of my friends, and am often astounded by the generosity of strangers.

Never more true than today. Faced with an unfortunate schedule that cost me a weekend at home with my family, Kurt from A Tight Loop stepped in and made what could have been a tough day a joy. Kurt graciously arranged to take me and my friend from work, Danny, down a local smallmouth river. We had a great day. Unbelievable conpany, a beautiful river and resource just outside of Chicago, and plenty of feisty smallmouth to hand. It was a real pleasure to fish with Kurt and Danny, and I am still amazed at the time he spent and how hard he works to make sure we had a good time. Did I mention there were bbqed brats at the riverside? And homemade beer? was that kind of day.

Off tomorrow to fish with Austin Adduci of Grab Your Fly Charters. Kurt and Austin are friends, and if can't believe my luck at getting to hook up with the two of them this weekend. Cannot wait to see what tomorrow brings...resting fine after a beautiful day today.


Huge thanks Kurt! Danny and I had a great time, can't wait to return the favor in OR!