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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Salmon Slammer


It's winter; we woke up to three inches of new snow this morning. It's snowing again right now. That makes it a great time to tie flies! Here is a fly I have tied for some years. Oh, I should mention, the fly works extremely well for Pink Salmon. Pinks are also called Humpies because the males grow a large hump when they migrate to their natal streams to spawn.

I start the body of the Salmon Slammer near the point of the hook. I leave more bare hook towards the shank than I might otherwise on another fly because the Salmon are very toothy. Those teeth just really beat up flies. I also counter rib the fly with wire, again, because the fish are so hard on the flies. For the Salmon Slammer sparse is good.



In Washington the Humpies run almost exclusively in the odd years. I'm hoping for a stellar year of fishing for them this coming fall. Just about the time I am starting to wind down on my Carp fishing the Humpies will wind up. It's time to stock up on several dozen Salmon Slammers.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas at a Carp Fisherman's Home

No trip, no weather, no wind, no sun, no clouds, no flies, no casting, no fish (at least not real ones anyway) no pictures; I guess that means this isn't a fishing report. What can I say, it's Christmas time. I have been fishing since I was 4, that would be 1954, and I have been fly fishing since 1971. Awhile for sure. But it is Christmas time not fishing time.

The weather forecast called for some snow yesterday; not exactly fly rod Carping weather. I worked yesterday, tied a few flies and listened to Christmas music. I have worked some today, tied a few more flies and am listening to Christmas music again.

Katy and I both enjoy the Christmas season. What it involves for us has evolved through the decades as we moved from being newlyweds, to parents of young kids, parents of teenagers, and now empty nesters. Its all good. Christmas can be a stressful time of year but we both still enjoy it. Part of the fun is decorating our home and visiting with friends and family.

Decorating a Carp fisherman's home for Christmas is no different than anyone else's home. You just decorate.

We still put up a Christmas tree every year though we have long since given up cutting our own. This is a nice artificial tree that gets people to ask if it is real. Of course its real; real plastic. (Notice the fat little snowman on the hearth next to the poinsettias.)



Our real, plastic Christmas tree has 8 strings of lights and some regular ornaments on it. Here is a regular snowman ornament just like you would find at a normal person's home. See, it's Christmas time, not fishing time.



A traditional red and green ornament like this would fit at anyone's home. Like I said, its Christmas time not fishing time.



And here is a snowman ornament that could fit at anyone's home too. No, wait, that snowman fishes. Now how did he get on that tree?



Three pictures up what was that bell shaped ornament next to the snowman's face? From the time our kids were little we gave them each a Christmas ornament every year. One year I made the ornaments, one for each of our three kids along with one for Katy and one for me. Looking back at that snowman head ornament there is another "fishing intruder". There is one of the ornaments I made back in 1995 I believe. It has a fly suspended in it. The fly is a Charlie's Special. It is one of my favorite trout dry flies. Fished wet, it is also one of my favorite Steelhead flies. I tie the fly, including the head, exactly the way I was shown way back in the 70's.



What the heck is that next to and below the fly ornament? Oh good grief, it looks like a Carp; it's funny colors but it's a Carp.



Here is the Bass ornament.



And here is the Trout ornament.


Here is the fishing vest ornament.



And here is the fly reel ornament.



Okay, so what, maybe it's not like a normal person's home but it still looks like Christmas.

We have villages set up on two bookshelves in the family room and on the hutch in the dining room. One would hope I could keep the fishing out of the villages.



There is a guy catching lobster in the hutch village but I don't think that exactly counts as fishing does it...



Okay, this bookshelf village doesn't have a single thing that has anything to do with fishing. There we go; just like a normal person.



This is a nice looking village on the other family room bookshelf. What is that in the center?



Well, will you look at that. It's a guy fly fishing at this pond and the best thing of all is that the pond has two fish--a Koi and a Carp.



In the first picture next to the poinsettias on the floor is a fat little snowman. I'll be darned, he fishes too. Can you believe it.






And best of all is that the fireplace hearth snowman has caught two Christmas Carp. What a clever snowman!



Merry Christmas readers and a Happy New Year! I wish all of you peace and the joy of the season. May your lives be filled with the warmth of friends and family.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Monkey Forks

Having fly fished since 1971 one would think that I would have fished Monkey Forks Creek many times. After all, it is right here in Washington where I live and it grows some lunker Rainbow trout. I have listened to people talk about it, seen pictures of big fish, day dreamed about it, hummed and hawed about it, and driven by it. Twice in the past 15 years a buddy and I have stopped at Monkey Forks for an hour. We only did it as an afterthought on the way home from some other spot. I don't know why I have never made a serious effort to fish there. Maybe its that the creek is so small you can cast all the way across it. Maybe it is that Monkey Forks has jillions of ticks. Maybe I have been distracted by so many other places. I just don't know why I haven't fished it.

Did I mention that the Rainbow in Monkey Forks can get real big? They eat and eat and eat. Scuds, Mayflies, Caddis, Chironomids, Damsels, Dragonflies, and some terrestials (when the wind blows) all help to fatten these piggies up. And they do get fat. And long.

Some of the time the fat Monkey Fork Piggies will even take a dry fly. I'm not sure why that single thing has not been enough to get me over there for at least one trip a year, or heck, at least one trip in the last 39 years, but it hasn't. Maybe I just have it in the back of my mind that a 5 pound trout in a small creek wouldn't have anywhere to run. I don't know. I really don't.

At the beginning of 2010 I set several fishing goals for the year; one of them was to make a trip to Monkey Forks Creek in the spring. I meant to spend two days there and fish only the creek. My friend, Gary, has fished there many times so I asked him to go with me.

I suppose me blogging about Monkey Forks is kind of like me going there. It took me a heck of a long time to plan a trip there and I didn't get around to writing about it for 9 months. Maybe Monkey Forks makes me lackadaisical. It's not my fault I never planned a trip to a creek that has multi-pound trout in it and it's not my fault it took me so many months to make a blog post about it. It's the creek's fault. It's a bad influence on me.

Gary and I went in the middle of March. The weather was cool but still very manageable; virtually no wind was also a nice plus. We fished floating lines the entire time. Dead drifting small nymphs is a favorite technique at Monkey Forks.

It produced this beefy boy.






The most satisfying fish for me was a porker that fell for an adult May Fly on the first afternoon. He rose about 40 feet from me near a cut on the opposite side of the creek. The distance on my first cast was just right and the fly landed about 5 feet upstream from the fish. The fly drifted casually over the holding spot and just like that the trout picked the fly off the surface. The fish was actually into the backing before he stopped and headed back upstream towards the very spot he had been tricked. You'll just have to trust me that the tape is stretched out to the fish's tail. The fish was flopping in the grass and I didn't want him out of the water any longer.



Gary and I caught fish but apparently not at the pace he is used to. The fish pictured above is the only one that took me into the backing. For their size I'm not sure the fish I caught fought all that well. Maybe that is because of the time of year and maybe the fish in Monkey Forks are just not "hot" fish. I will have to go again to do some field testing on that to make a determination.

In town things are pretty relaxed too. Here is the line at the espresso stand.




Oh, and one more thing. If you look for Monkey Forks on a map or do an Internet search for it, you won't find it. A couple days before we left for the trip I was talking to a loan rep I work with. His name is D. R. I told him I was going to fish Rocky Ford Creek and he misunderstood me. He asked, "Monkey Forks Creek? Is that in Washington?" I liked Monkey Forks better than Rocky Ford so I have just kept calling it that since then.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

71° and 10°





Two days ago it was 10° here at home. This isn’t the Midwest; good grief it is western Washington. Ten degrees is too darn cold! At this moment it is snowing and the roads are covered with ice.





On November 4, just a mere three weeks ago, I went trout fishing. It was 71°. Is that possible? This isn't southern California or Arizona; good grief it is western Washington. I even wore sunscreen.

Normally at the beginning of November I would be fishing for Chum Salmon. The Chum run is very depleted so the local rivers are closed. My friend, Jerry, had invited me to go to the Harrison River in British Columbia for some Chum fishing but days before we were to go it was also closed also due to a diminished return.

The weather forecaster was predicting unseasonably warm weather for November 4, so Jerry and I agreed to meet at a local lake. This is Jerry with the pram he uses to fish local lakes. People say he is a MEAN OLD man. I tell him not to listen to that kind of talk because it's not true. (He isn't that old.)





Just the week before I had made my latest Carp trip ever. I had spent the summer largely fishing 7 and 8 weight rods with short leaders and 1X or 2X tippet. This first day of fall trout fishing I found myself adjusting to a 4 weight rod, a 17 foot leader with a 5X tippet, and a strike indicator. For the first several casts the four weight felt a little funny but its all good.

To my pleasant surprise after about 10 or 15 minutes the strike indicator disappeared. A nice 18 inch trout buried the thing. I like indicators that indicate! The night before this trip I had put a new rubber bag on my Measure Net and was glad for the chance to give it a field test. The Measure Net has inch markings across the bottom of the bag going up in both directions. Zero is in the center so if a fish's nose is at 11 on one side and his tail is at 8 on the other side, he is 19 inches. It is great for releasing fish without ever having to touch them.







The indicator kept on indicating for several hours. The first six Trout all stayed on and helped me test the new rubber bag in the net. For the next 20-25 strikes many of the fish were teasing me with little taps just taking the indicator barely under the surface but not getting hooked. Some that were hooked came unbuttoned before getting all the way to the net. I helped eight more get the fly out of their lip.

Several other fly club members fished that day also. Dale Dennis, Bob Banks, and Jake Jacobsen were all there. We weren't exactly all fishing together as much as we were fishing at the same time. Jerry and I fished together probably half or two thirds of the day. Indicator fishing is only fun when the indicatator indicates. Otherwise it is deadly dull. Of note was that Jake Jacobsen fell asleep while staring at his indicator. Bob Banks came by and caught him in the act.

The sun on the indicator at the top of the post made it look a different color than it actually is. It is just a plain old orange indicator; the actual color is the darker one in the picture.


The weather was wonderful; it was such an anomaly for a November day. The day turned out to be tremendous. There were cooperative fish in the lake and the company was good. I was packed up and off the lake in time to be home before 6:00 PM.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Sun Finally Sets on This Year's Carp Season





This was a year of discovery for me with my Carp fishing. I fished familiar water to be sure but I also made a point of trying a good deal of new water. Heck, I even went to Montana to catch Carp on a dry fly. I started the season earlier than I ever have and ended MUCH later than any other year. I look back and say, WOW, it was a tremendous season on so many levels. This year I was still fly fishing for Carp at the end of October. The last many years I would have been fly fishing for Salmon and only dreaming of Carp at this point. What can I say? I just had to see how long I could go and still find Carp in the margins of the Columbia River.

So what happens when I go looking for Carp in late October? Well, it's not 100 degrees out. It's not 90, it's not 80, heck it wasn't even 60. I wore chest waders, a flannel shirt, and a fleece jacket. It reminded me of fishing for them back in April which was also pushing the "boundaries" of the season.


October fly fishing for Carp on the Columbia was not like July and August. The water was still; there was no wind and there were no waves. The river was also very low. The day was shorter and my shadow was longer.






The sun sort of slides across the horizon on a shallow arc rather than moving straight up overhead and then back down again. The water was as clear as I have seen it but even in the middle of the day the sun rays were still bouncing off the water rather than penetrating because the sun was still so low.

Stuck and Stuck

Fishing so late in the season, heck I wasn't even sure if it still was Carp season, I went to familiar water. I parked my Carpwagon, strung up the rod, put on my chest waders and then decided to pee before I put the boots on. I only walked 10 steps from my truck. On the way back I felt something sticking in my foot. I sat on the tailgate thinking I would have to take off the waders to take something out of my sock. I looked at the bottom of the waders and found this darn thing.





Let's see now, if I can feel it in my skin, that means it went through the sock. If it went through the sock it also went through the waders. Grrr... I got STUCK and I hadn't even got down to the river. I tried to take it as a good omen that I would be sticking a lot of Carp on this fall day.

I approached the water, gave thanks for all my blessings, and began to look for Mr. Buglemouth. I walked for well over an hour before I saw a single Carp. The truth is I had gotten a little lackadaisical because I had gone so long without even seeing one. The sun was bouncing off the water so by the time I saw the first Carp I was almost on top of him. He wasn't exactly sunbathing because it was too cold for that. I don't know what he was doing there. Just sitting and doing nothing. I stripped off some line and made a short cast towards him and he swam out to deeper water. I went 10 or 15 more minutes before I saw another fish. Okay, this one was tailing. See the Carp; catch the Carp. My first cast was too short. The second one was money. The Black Betty settled to the bottom, I gave two strips, the Carp moved over to eat the fake, and I stuck him. Maybe me getting stuck was a good omen after all. Even in the cool weather he took me well into the backing. It made me smile.



Black Betty "Bam a Lam. She's always ready. She's so rock steady. Bam a Lam..."




The fish posed for a few pictures and then went back in the river to contemplate his mistake. I continued to wade slowly and carefully; it was so odd to have such clear water and clear sky but not be able to see because the sun was low in the sky.

Seeing very few additional fish the rest of the day told me I was pushing the limits of the end of the season. I got a couple others to take Black Betty. Considering how few fish I saw I felt pretty good about that.



I spent the night in an inexpensive, okay cheap, motel.






The air temperature was in the low 40's when I headed for the river that next morning. Not exactly what I think of as prime weather to fly fish for Carp. Mean Rocks Flats is a place that I enjoy and a place I have had some good success through the years. Again, I didn't want to explore new water, I wanted to see how late in the year I could still get a Carp on a fly in the Columbia River. For now I am still able to fish here but the day will come when I just won't be able to wade on these "mean" rocks.




Overcast? Well I think the sky was overcast, when I parked my truck, but how would I know? It was so darn foggy I couldn't see the sky.



It was so odd to be Carp fishing in what I would normally think of as Salmon fishing weather. A client appointment later that day was limiting me to just a few hours of fishing on what would be my last day of Carp fishing for 2010. I did not see a single fish. Not a sunbather, not a cruiser, not a tailer, not a single one. I really felt like I had eeked out the last possible day of Carp fishing for the season. Walking back to the truck it was still in the 40's. I felt like I had fished the absolute "tail end" of the season. I wasn't seeing any fish and there was a small wet spot forming on my left sock. Go figure.

Could I catch more Carp now? If I saw some feeding I could catch them. Well, I think I could anyway. Would I see tailing fish if I went back to the Columbia here in November? Not many; maybe none. It's time to chase other species until spring and to stock up on the Carp Carrot, Black Betty, San Juan Worms, Carp Woollies, and Rubber Legged Hare's Ears.

I was, and am, very grateful for a tremendous season of fly fishing for Carp.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Carp on a Dry Fly

I traveled to Montana trying to catch a bunch of Carp on a dry fly. I met up with my good friend Keith and we fished for 4 1/2 days. I had hoped to get 4 or 5 Carp on dry flies each day. Plus another 10 or 15 on wet flies too. Okay, maybe not the first day; we only fished for a few hours. But the other days, heck yes, I was hoping to slay 'em. Well it didn't quite happen that way but we did manage to get Mr. Buglemouth to take our wet flies and then to finally come up and take a Skitter off the surface.

A caddis imitation called Skitter




The Skitter tricked this Montana Carp

.

We fished the Missouri River and it was very different than the Columbia where I usually fish. The river is beautiful.



Some of the fish were even nice enough to grab our flies.


The take truly is the premier moment. Here is a video of Carp on a Dry Fly

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dry Flies for Carp

Well, slop on Lone Lake or no slop, I want to catch a Carp on a dry fly. Here in Washington and Oregon I virtually never see a Carp feeding on the surface. I have seen Carp in Banks Lake just resting at the surface of the water with their mouths in the air. It is as if they are looking to see what the heck goes on outside their watery world. I have seen several of them in a group doing this at the same time. I have caught them but I feel that what really happened was that I cast the fly in their mouth. They weren't actively feeding on the surface.

Having heard stories of Carp feeding on the surface in other locales I have decided to travel to far away Montana in search of clooping Carp.

Eight or nine years ago I fished for trout in Wyoming. There were so many bugs around the lake that it was eerie. On the surface, we fished some foam hopper imitations and large caddis imitations. Below the surface we fished some minnow imitations stripped quickly and erratically. Here at a lake in eastern Washington I have used an adult Dragon Fly imitation with some success. Like many dry flies it only works when the fish are feeding on the natural.

Hearing that there are millions of Hoppers and even more Caddis near the river we are traveling to, I am tying up some of my old Trout patterns for Carp. I have decided against tying any Foam Hoppers. I am going with the Caddis and the Dragon Fly imitation. The Dragon Fly can double as a hopper or even as a Stone Fly. Well, I think it can; we'll see what the Carp think.

This caddis imitation is called a Skitter. It is meant to imitate the skating caddis, as the Canadians say, the traveling sedge. It was taught to me by Bob Simm in the middle 70's. I have caught many trout on this pattern and am going to see if the Carp will eat it. I grease this fly so it will float better. This is not a dry fly hook I am using for this pattern because the Carp will straighten it out. Well, they will straighten out the hook if I can catch one. We'll see.



Hook: Tiemco 3769 size 10 or 12
Thread: Black 6/0
Tail & Body: Deer hair Hackle: Grizzly
Wing: Deer Hair

I tie down for the tail and then wrap the deer hair around the shank for the body. I also tie it exactly the way Bob showed me with the head showing the ends of the deer hair.



I originally tied this next pattern for a couple lakes in eastern Washington where we see dragon fly hatches in the late summer and early fall. There is a species of dragon flies that we see that are about half the length of many other species and they are orange. When they are buzzing around the water the trout will actually take them out of the air sometimes. I hope the Carp will do that.




Hook: Tiemco 5262 size 6 or 8
Thread: Black 6/0
Body: Nylon Cord
Wing: Deer Hair
Hackle: Black Saddle
Collar: Fine Black chenille

The body of this fly is attached by slipping the hook through the inside of the nylon cord.

This fly could double as a hopper or a stone fly. It could double as a Volkswagon for all I care if the Carp will eat Volkswagons.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Inspired by slop, it's time to catch a Carp on a dry fly.






Braving the 90 degree plus heat last week, I ventured over to Lone Lake to chase Grass Carp again. The heat, well I assume it is the heat, and the lack of vegitation had turned the lake into a soup of algae. It was colorful and interesting in a way but it was eerie. I wasn't sure if I even wanted to put my boat in the water and after I got in the water I really wasn't sure I wanted to fish. I had gotten a good start on the day. There wasn't even a breath of wind. The algae looked like it could have been in the swamp where Yoda meets Luke Skywalker. It looked like it could have been some sort of nuclear run off. It really was uncomfortable at first. I moved around the margins but of course could not have begun to see a fish feeding in all of this. I spent more than an hour without making a cast and thought I should probably just head home.

A slight breeze came up and started to move the slime towards the southwest corner of the lake. That is until the wind changed directions and started to bring it back. After a while I did have some partially open water and was able to land one fish on a "Real Grass Fly". I estimated that he was 27 1/2 inches and about 9.5 pounds.

I did bonk him on the head with a Seattle Mariners kids's souvenir bat and dispose of him in accordance with the Grass Carp Reduction guidelines. As an aside that little bat seems to be getting as many "hits" lately as the Mariner's bats are but whatever. I called it quits after a few hours.

As I said, the slop was eeire. It was worse on the surface but was also clouding the water below the surface. I don't know if I will do this again.

Inspired by the slop, I really think I am ready to go catch some Carp on a dry fly. (Commons and Mirrors) Yup, next week, that's what I want to do, catch some Carp on a dry fly. I am tying the flies this week and getting ready for the big trip. Wish me luck.