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Friday, July 25, 2014

When Carp Fishing is Heavenly

There are days when turbid water, wind, and the devil clouds conspire to make carp fishing darn difficult. There are days when the water is clear, the wind blows lightly and the sky is blue; oh, but wait, there are almost no fish to cast to.  Heck that's even worse than the bad conditions!  I have to remind myself that if carp fishing was easy everyone would be doing it.   

There are days when the conditions are tolerable and there are still very few fish.  There are days when the conditions are tolerable but I'm still seeing a good number of targets and getting hook ups; those are great days.  There are days when the conditions are good and I'm getting lots and lots of shots.  When I can cast to those fish rather than reaching out and just dropping the fly in front of them, those days are heavenly.

On my last trip to the Carp Lodge I fished several days.  One of my days was heavenly.  It sounds like kind of a silly word to describe a session but when I got back to my carpwagon as I was getting my boots off I said to myself, "That was heavenly".  It really was.  I was getting so many shots and hooking up so often I just didn't want to get out of the river to take any pictures where I was holding the fish.  I was fishing a two fly rig with a Chocolate Cherry on top and Black Betty as the dropper.  They took both flies.  There were virtually no clouds, the wind was light and the water was clear enough that I was casting a fair distance to tailing fish.  

All the hook ups made me feel more clever than I actually am.  Lets be objective here--I don't have a 20+ fish day when I only see 10 or 12 fish.  It just isn't possible to catch more fish than I see.  On this day I was blessed to be fishing in a very target rich environment with receptive fish.  Indeed, it was heavenly.  

Saturday, July 12, 2014

I laughed at myself and the carp laughed at me too

In 2004 when I started carp fishing I had no interest in blogging or posting fish pictures online.  The years passed and that changed a good deal.  But not completely.  There are still days where I just can't be bothered even taking the camera out.  Sometimes setting up a picture of myself holding a fish just takes more time and effort than I am willing to spend; I would rather just release the fish and go catch another one.

The fish in this next picture made me smile.  I saw the take and he ran in to the backing.  After netting him we walked in to the shore together.  I took Black Betty out of his mouth and left him in the shallow water.  The camera was set up on a rock.  It appears that ten seconds wasn't enough time to press the shutter button, step back to the fish, and pick it up.  Was the fish trying to tell me something?  I tried again to get a picture and didn't do as well.  Maybe the fish was whispering to me. On the third try I depressed the shutter button, turned, and watched the fish swim away.  That fish was definitely trying to tell me something; he just wasn't going to be photographed with me holding him.  Maybe he was trying to tell me to go back to the beginning and just get a picture of him near me while he was in the water and we were still dancing.  Or maybe he was telling me to just not take the camera out at all.

He made me smile because I saw him take the fly, he made the reel sing, he brought out the backing, and he fled the scene while I was trying to get his picture.

As he swam away I laughed at myself and I'm pretty sure the carp laughed at me too.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Not your typical carp

An ordinary Columbia River carp is a common, is about 28-29 inches long and weighs 8-9 pounds.  Some, not many, are smaller but typically not very much smaller.  Some are larger.  Some are way larger.  A Columbia River carp can be 29 inches and weigh more than 9 pounds because his tummy is fat.

An ordinary Columbia common.

This common has more girth so he tips the scale over 10 pounds.  

This Columbia River carp is not ordinary.  He is a mirror and he is longer than 28 inches.  When I see a group of fish and I can tell one of them is a mirror I will virtually always target the mirror.   There was a group of three tailing fish but I could not tell this one was a mirror.  He was the largest of the three so I cast to him.  He picked up Black Betty just like I wanted him to.    He was an extraordinary fish; he reminded me how very fortunate I am to be a carp fisherman.  Damn, I love my river! 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

An Apex Athlete Mirror

One way of saying it would be that "feeling crappy" had passed so to speak.  Dear God, what a relief!

A cloudy morning did not bode well for a day on the river; at least not for the kind of carp fishing I much prefer.  From a distance I like to stalk fish in shallow water, move into position, and cast to them.  (And of course set the hook when they take the fly.)  I was already in central WA so I went fishing anyway.  I arrived at the river at about 10:00.  Come on, I'm 63; I don't wade the river for 8 or 10 hours, 6 hours is plenty for me.  As the morning unfolded I was seeing fish, but often just as I spooked them; damn the devil clouds!  Wind was churning up the water; visibility was not good.

At about 1:00 the wind gods began to favor me.  First they allowed me to pass wind and be confident that it was wind alone.  As I said, what a relief.  Next they started disassembling the clouds.  Soon the the clouds looked like jig saw puzzle pieces just taken out of the box and scattered across the sky.  When the sun shined through the spaces I could see my friends the carp and I could cast to them.  Several 8-12 pound fish sucked Black Betty off the bottom of the river just a pretty as you please.  Dang that made me happy!

Going away, my favorite fish of the day was this apex athlete, mirror.  Just as I got ready to cast I could see the distinctive, large scales.  That made me want this fish even more.  I called out and thanked him when he took the fly.  That was so dang nice of him.  I thanked him for running into the backing and I thanked him for coming all the way back in to the net.  What a magnificent fish!

I love carp fishing and I am ready to go again.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Kaopectate Can Only Help So Much...

Following the Gregg Martin Rule I decided to fish when I didn't feel good.  Admittedly I hadn't thrown up for two days but the other end was still not back to normal.  Heck, I hadn't been sick for 5 years!  Not a cold, not a sore throat--nothing.  How the heck did I get sick for several days?

Well, I can say that I did get out and try to fish, but as I said in the title, Kaopectate can only help so much and after that you just deal with it.  I decided to fish from my Zodiac since I felt so "crappy".  I can sit down in the boat and take breaks.  Never mind that the sky and the water were both cloudy

and never mind that there were so many weeds that I could hardly see fish and never mind that I was getting salad on my fly on almost every cast.  Waa, waa, waa!  It was just not the best conditions and I only lasted four hours on the water because I felt so "crappy".  I moved around the lake for an hour and a half before I even saw a fish.  He was moving so fast I didn't bother casting to him.  I managed three fish all in the last one hour plus.  It helped that the clouds broke a little otherwise I don't know if I would have caught a single fish.

Not every day is a stellar day in terms of numbers.  I got out.  I made the effort. I'm still very grateful.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Gregg Martin Rule and a Wonderful Day on the River

 Bothell, where Katy and I live, is in western Washington, a minimum of 3 hours from the water I carp fish.  It's not a simple afternoon of fishing and then home for dinner.  It is a commitment of at least a one night stay.  Prior to building the Carp Lodge I always came for at least two nights and tried to fish a minimum of two days.

When we built the Carp Lodge Katy and I anticipated enjoying it on several levels.  We enjoy coming over together.  We walk on the river, we hang out, we read, we talk; it's wonderful.  I fish sometimes when we are here together.  I also come over alone  and fish.  We have had several different friends over--Katy's friends, my friends, and our friends.  Our families have come over and our kids come over.  It's all good; actually it's wonderful.

In the past when I came to central Washington to carp fish, and I was staying in a motel, if the weather was sketchy I would just fish anyway; what was I going to do, sit in the motel and look through my pictures all day?

At this writing I am at the Carp Lodge.  It is in central WA; it overlooks the Columbia River.  I can drive 20 minutes to a beautiful flat. There is plenty to do at the here--I mean besides looking through my pictures and video.  There is no TV here but I don't count watching TV as doing something.  If I am at the Carp Lodge and the conditions get particularly bad I don't exactly feel trapped here.  It's a home.  There is a toilet and shower, beds, a stove and oven, a washer and dryer, central heating and air conditioning, a refrigerator, WiFi (I bring my laptop), a patio, some fly tying tools, and a beautiful view.  Oh, and there's a garage too.  I pull my carpwagon in the garage and don't worry about my gear.  Heck I don't even park in the garage at home.

The sky is clear 300 days a year.  During carp season the weather is warm and often just plain hot.  The view is beautiful.  Again, it's wonderful; it is so easy to be here, even on a day when the weather is bad.

The Carp Lodge


The Columbia River seen from the back patio

"It is so easy to be here..."  Yes indeed, and therein can lie the problem.  Because it is easy to be at the Carp Lodge it gets too easy to not go fishing just because it is cloudy or the wind is blowing (it almost always does), or the river is too high or too low.  Okay, if there is lightening then I should stay off the river.  But if it's  just cloudy, well, then I know it will be tough to spot fish but I can still try.

Recently I woke up at the Carp Lodge with the intention of fishing that day.  The sky was overcast so I immediately let that transfer to my mood and I felt overcast.  I want perfect conditions!  I felt the draw of being too comfortable holding me back.  I knew that if I was at a motel there would be no question; I would just go fishing.  On days like this I remind myself of what I call the Gregg Martin Rule:  "Go fishing--no excuses!"  Here is a link to a post I made a few years ago that talked about Gregg.  He makes the best of it no matter what!  As I have said before, Gregg is an inspiration.

I held myself to the Gregg Martin rule and I'm so glad I did.  I loaded up my carpwagon and headed to the river.  I wish I could say why the fishing was so good.  Obviously it helped that the sky mostly cleared by the time I started stalking.  Truly, I had not taken 10 steps and I spotted my first fish.  He saw the Black Betty but didn't think it looked appealing.  I was seeing lots of fish and they weren't spawning.  Some were cruising, some were sunbathing, and some were tailing.  Lordy, I love the tailers and the slow cruisers.  I particularly like the ones that will take my fly.  I had a fish in the net in the first 20 minutes.  I had lots of shots at good targets.  I particularly liked that I wasn't happening on fish in cloudy water and then dropping the fly in front of them; I was making casts and shooting some line.  That too me is carp fishing at it's best.

The day was very memorable just by virtue of the numbers.  I lost count at about 16.  I know I had 19; it was probably 20 and may have been 21.  It was a special day because 6 of the fish were apex athletes (between 16-18 pounds).  As I was walking back dragging my butt back to my carpwagon, I reeled in.  My wrist hurt from playing fish and I had reached a point where I wouldn't cast to another 8-9 pound fish.  I told myself I will only cast again if I see a fish that I'm sure is over 15.  Near the truck, I did see one and cast to him.  He sucked up the Black Betty and took me into the backing.  It was a tremendous last fish for a wonderful day.  Thanks Gregg for your positive example.

In the interest of full disclosure not all days are like this; most aren't.  

An apex athlete who thought Black Betty looked good enough to eat

They can't all be over 15 pounds but I pretty much like any carp who will take my fly.

This one was particularly strong and persistent about not coming in.  

This carp was clever but not clever enough to know my fly was a fake until I set the hook.  

Carp are beautiful!

Simply wonderful