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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.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Grass Carp Flies: Part III

I had been out on Wednesday, August 4, and had virtually killed my battery. Instead of fishing on Thursday I had to learn about bringing back deep cycle batteries. I was reminded of Miracle Max in Princess Bride when he said, "It just so happens that your friend is MOSTLY dead. There is a big difference between MOSTLY dead and ALL dead..." Miracle Rick at the battery store told me that I had discharged my battery to such a point that my charger would not recognize it. However, it was likely not all dead, it was mostly dead. I had to put it on a different charger and it took all day but indeed it had been only most dead, not all dead. I didn't get to fish on Thursday but Friday was sure looking good.

Because I had some hookups on Wednesday, I moved faster on Friday morning and skipped the cinnamon rolls. Still not the break of dawn, I was on the water by 10:00 on Friday. I was also equipped with fresh flies from some time at the vise. Dang those things looked tasty.

Again, I had three hookups but this time I got two of them to the net. They were 11.5 pounds and 12 pounds. They measured in at 28 inches and 28 1/4 inches. They don't run anything like the Commons and Mirrors do. They run back and forth around the boat and down towards the bottom but not into the backing. I did slowly move out a ways from the reeds after hooking up so they fish couldn't break me off.

The goal of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is to reduce the number of Grass Carp in the lake. Since they have eaten too much of the vegetation there is now toxic algae in the lake. That means we are required to remove the fish we bring to the net. This next picture is not your typical handle the fish with care and respect kind of picture. The fish are dead.

Oh, the fly, well I would love to say that careful trial and error went into this fly. Actually I just did it without giving it much thought. I felt a little funny doing this but I just had to try it. It is such an incredible work of creativity and tying prowess.

Here it is, Mr. P.'s Grass Carp Grass Fly:

Here are some from the morning's tying session. The one at the bottom is beat up from being in a fish's mouth.

These flies are sort of fragile. I carry them in a saltwater fly box. They also don't exactly last long so you would have to tie them "fresh" each day.

Tying recipe:

Hook: Tiemco 5262 size 8
Thread: Olive
Body: About 12 strands of grass trimmed from next to my fence.

I'm sort of self-conscious about tying grass to a hook but the Grass Carp ate it. Having them eat it helps me to steel myself against my own embarassment. I will be trying this again next week. My neighbor has a more nicely manicured lawn than I do. (He doesn't fish) I wonder if I cut a few blades of grass from his yard if I would catch more fish. We'll see.

Grass Carp Flies: Part II

On July 15, 2010 I made a post explaining that I was participating in a Grass Carp reduction program at a lake in my area. In that post you can read the background of why the Grass Carp were planted there, what the effects have been and why the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife wants the number of Grass Carp reduced in the lake.

I am taking some time off and wanted to try and catch some Grass Carp. I got up somewhat early on Wednesday morning with the intention of getting a good start on fishing. I had breakfast, packed a lunch, loaded up my truck and almost was ready. I read the paper. Then I decided to tie some more "basic" Grass Carp flies just in case the ones I had didn't work. So it wasn't exactly early anymore.

To get to Lone Lake I have to take a ferry to Whidbey Island. The line was short and the weather was wonderful. I was in a very relaxed mode. The drive from the ferry terminal to the lake is not long. On the way I really started to crave a cinnamon roll. Knowing that if I drove right past the lake I would end up at the Langley Bakery in about 15 minutes I just kept right on going. I know a person might say that cinnamon roll isn't much of a reason to add 45 minutes to the time before I started actually fishing and I agree. To that end I bought two very rich brownies to take home. Surely that made the 45 minute delay worth it.

I got my boat ready and was on the water promptly at 12:40. Not exactly first light but so what. I headed down to the more shallow end of the lake and watched for fish. I started out with my Scum Fly and fished it for a bit just casting blindly in the shallows. A bit in this case means about 5 or 10 minutes. I switched to one of my more "basic" flies that I had tied that morning. Within another 5 minutes I saw a fish working near the reeds. I cast to him and there was nothing doin'. Ten minutes later I saw another fish, I cast to him and BAM, he took my fly. I had him on for several minutes and actually was close to netting him. The rod was in my left hand and the line was in my right hand. I had let the boat drift into the reeds while I was playing him. Maybe that was a bit careless. The Carp got into the weeds and broke me off. Dang it!

I wondered if that fish would have taken my Scum Fly but it was too late now. I wasn't willing to experiment since I wasn't seeing many fish. I put on another one of the morning's handiwork and starting stalking again in the margins. It would be hour before I got into another fish. I got this one to the net.

As participants in the Grass Carp reduction program we are required to report our fishing time, our method, and the weight and length of our captures. He weighed 9 pounds 13 ounces and was 27 3/4 inches.

I would get one more hook up later in the afternoon and that was it for the day. I lost that fish also.

I have a small electric on my boat and the battery was giving up. It was either dying or I had forgotten to charge it after my last outing. The battery was so darn dead I couldn't fish anymore and had to row back to my truck.

I had planned to fish the next day but was going to have to solve the battery problem first. And tie some "fresh" flies for the Grassers too.