Search This Blog

Thursday, July 13, 2023

An Extraordinary Day!

On Thursday, Katy had a doctor's appointment back in town. She was going to drop me off at the river where I would have had to fish ALL DAYYY LONGGGG! Loyal, dedicated husband that I am, and damn fortunate I might add, I offered to drive Katy from the Carp Lodge to her doctor's appointment.

That meant that I fished yesterday which was Friday. It ended up being quite an extraordinary day. I left the Carp Lodge at a casual pace meaning I didn't start fishing until almost 11:00. I returned to my stillwater roots and am so glad I did. It was an exceptional day, simply exceptional. Lots of things go into saying a day of Carp fishing is extraordinary. Certainly catching a good number of fish is at or near the top of the list. It's not always at the top of the list though. Yesterday, I did catch so many Carp that I was weary of reeling them in. My wrists hurt and my left shoulder still hurts. (I have a hard life.)

For a day of Carp fishing to be truly exceptional I want lots of things. I want the opportunity to cast to tailers, grazers, and shoppers. I don't want them all to take. I want some of them to take and it is very important to me to see the take. "The Take is the Premier Moment." I also want clear sky, good visibility in the water, light wind, and warm temperatures. I want to catch a good mix of sizes and I want some of those fish to be large. I don't want to snag any fish and if I do I want them to get off right away.

With the exception of playing two snagged fish all the way to the boat, yesterday I had it all. Everything just came together. It was wonderful.

Still, something else happened to make Friday probably my most extraordinary day of Carp fishing ever. When I got back to The Carp Lodge yesterday evening, I sat down to look through my pictures. I couldn't find my camera. I looked everywhere and realized that somehow I had left the camera at the lake. I was disappointed because there were a lot of fishing pictures from the last few weeks, there were pictures of The Carp Lodge being finished, pictures of my son and his wife helping us assemble IKEA furniture, and pictures of my Mom at her 88 birthday party at our home. I wanted those darn pictures more than I wanted the camera.

Realizing that the camera was "at" the lake meant that Katy and I took a long drive this morning back to the lake to look for the camera. I hoped it would be laying there in the brush where I had collected my gear before putting in the truck. It was NOT there. There were some other boats on the lake. One of them came in pretty fast because he saw us walking near his truck. He wanted to know why we were so interested in his truck. I explained that I had lost my camera and had been parked exactly where he was the day before. I said I was looking on the ground for my wayward camera. He was suspicious of me and I must confess that I was suspicious that he had my camera. Thinking he might I gave him my cell phone number and told him that if he found it later in the day to give me a call. I offered to pay him for it.

Just like clockwork about 2:00 my cell phone rings from someone with a 509, (eastern Washington) area code. I am doing some real estate work over here but I have those numbers in my contact list. My comment to Katy as I picked up the phone was that it was the guys from this morning, they miraculously found my camera, and would sell it to me.

Answering my cell phone as I always do when I don't recognize the caller I said, "Hi, this is Jim." The caller said, "This is Mike; I have your camera." I said, "Oh, you're one of the guys I talked to this morning and you found my camera after I left." Mike said, "No I was just there a couple hours ago, I wasn't there this morning, and I found your camera in about a foot of water." I asked him how on earth he figured out it was my camera if we hadn't talked. He explained that he and his wife went through all of the pictures on the SD card, 341 of them, and one of the pictures was of the IKEA boxes in the garage of The Carp Lodge. We had the boxes delivered so every box had a label. He could read my name on one of the labels so he Googled it. He found my real estate web page which has my phone number, my Facebook page and this blog. I was speechless. He even offered to mail me the camera. Can you believe it?!! I still can't.

The camera is a Pentax Optio W80. It is not the newest, jazziest model out there but it works for me. It is also waterproof. The manufacturer advertised at the time I purchased it that it can be under 6 feet of water for up to 30 minutes and still remain waterproof. They didn't say anything about how long it could be under one foot of water.

Katy and I drove to Mike's home; we spent most of the day in the truck. For Mike to have looked through my 341 pictures the card still had to be dry. The camera came on and it still takes pictures! The case stinks like lake mud and the spare battery is toast. But that darn camera sat in 12 inches of water for 22 hours. 22hours! And it still works.

Okay, I got to cast to tailers, grazers, and shoppers. Many of them did not take due to my bad casting or just because they are Carp and they don't like flies landing near them. Some of them did take, enough that I knew I could have caught at least a couple more but I was just too tired. I got to see them take and that is such a thrilling part of Carp fishing. The sky was clear, the water visibility was pretty good, there was only light wind, and it was a warm day. I got a good mix of sizes with three of them being under 10 pounds and three of them being over 17. The rest were mostly 12-15 pounds. I also got three Mirrors which is very unusual.

Oh, and did I mention that my camera sat in a foot of water for a day, some guy I never met found it, and then he found me of all things. Now that's an extraordinary day of fishing. You know, getting my camera back to me was a small thing in the grand scheme of things but it made it not just an extraordinary day of fishing but, on a simple level, an extraordinary day of life.

Oh, I did catch some fish yesterday and here are a few pictures. Pictures from my camera that spent a night in the lake.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Redfish and Black Drum in the Louisiana Marsh

In the early part of October I went to Louisiana to fish the marsh for redfish and black drum.  I had been to Louisiana in 2013.  The guide, who shall go unnamed, was terrible.  I went to a different part of the state this time and fished with Lucas Bissett from Low Tide Charters.  He was great and I plan to return and fish with him again.  

The marsh exemplifies simple beauty; a simple beauty that is calming and reassuring.  The Carp Lodge is in the desert; we look out at the river and across to rolling hills.  Both Katy and I enjoy the simple beauty of the river and the hills; we both find that it is calming and reassuring.  While the marsh and the Carp Lodge are in very, very different environments I experienced many of the same feelings.   

Everywhere we went Lucas said that the marsh was one to five feet deep.  It goes and goes for miles and miles.  It is so beautiful!

I like the colors in this picture of an egret.  

The fishing is all sight fishing; I was casting to tailing fish or slow cruisers.  Much of it is like carp fishing in that regard.  Unlike carp fishing, the redfish and the drum will chase down a fly.  Yikes, that's cool when they do!

While I was in Louisiana, Hurricane Michael was raging through Florida.  The storm did not come to Louisiana but we were experiencing some strong wind.  On days three and four the wind blew so hard it didn't let the tide go out; I didn't know that could happen.  The tide stayed in, the water was murky, and the sky was cloudy.  Those were tough days. 

This was my favorite redfish of the trip.  I got this fish taking the fly on video.  Dang it I like that a lot!  

This black drum was tailing in two feet of water.  Lucas scaled him at 35 1/2 pounds.  What a bruiser!  He got slime all over me and I was happy to let him do it.

#flyfishingforredfish #flyfishingforblackdrum #sightfishing #Louisianamarsh 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Monkey Forks

I had fished Monkey Forks a few times prior to 2010 but not with much seriousness or commitment.  In 2010, I went to the creek with the idea that I would fish Monkey Forks for two days no matter how good or bad the fishing was. I wanted to learn the creek and fish it during the winter.  It was good enough that I have been back many times.  During the last seven years, occasionally I have gone there and gotten blanked.  Some of those times I work hard to catch one fish; like I did in early January.  Some of the times I get several; that's nice.  Once in a while I hook a lot of fish; not only do I feel very grateful I feel kinda clever too.

Recently, Katy and I were at the Carp Lodge for several days.  I had brought my 5 weight but really didn't think I would have the kind of weather that is needed to have a good day at Monkey Forks.  Blue sky, some wind, and mostly clear water?  Nope.  Not for Monkey Forks.  Those are good conditions for carp fishing.  Overcast skies, wind and rain are the best conditions for catching the piggies in Monkey Fork.  The first couple days at the Carp Lodge, we were able to walk along the river trail in shorts; 73 degrees on day one and then 72 degrees on day two were such a welcome relief from the 40-50 degree temperatures at home.  Ahhhh...

On Thursday morning it was completely overcast, there was some wind, and it was raining.  Hmmm...it looked like just what I said I wanted in order to go fishing.  I dillydallied getting ready.  I arrived at the creek promptly at 11:00 AM.  I grumbled because there were a lot of guys there for a Thursday.  (I have a hard life.)  I ate my lunch and really had second thoughts about walking down to the water.

Remembering my last trip where I got one fish I approached the water with high hopes but low expectations.  Well go figure, I got a 16 1/2 inch fish on the first cast.  That was a nice surprise.  The second cast--dang it; I was blanked.  The third cast, my, my, my...it was fattie!  I carry a Measure Net at Monkey Forks.  According to the manufacturer, the Jr. Guide model I use weighs 2 pounds 3 ounces when it is dry.  Even adjusting liberally for the tare weight of the net, that fish was about 7 pounds.

It ended up being my best day ever at Monkey Forks.  And to think I actually thought about not even fishing.  

Two fish in three casts--time to go back to the Carp Lodge.  Naaaaa...at least a few more casts seemed like a good idea.  Several hours of "just a few more casts" yielded lots and lots of hookups and a good number of fish over 22 inches.

The brightest, most colorful gill plates of the day.  

My favorite fish of the day

Yes, it was one of those days that will stick with me for quite a long time.  It was very real and at the same time very unreal; it was quite an amazing day indeed.    

I was exhausted when I went to bed.  In that hazy space between being awake and sleeping, when you are not quite dreaming but not fully awake, I could feel fish taking the fly.  It was all very special.  

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Carp Taking the Fly Vol. I: a Video

This video was shot in Washington and Oregon during the spring and summer of 2017.  It is of 8 carp taking the fly.  Seven of the eight fish are visible.  I have been taking a good deal of video the last couple years but I haven't created one for YouTube since the spring of 2015.  Good grief...where did the time go?  I was overdue; here it is. 



Saturday, August 5, 2017

Fly Fishing in Cuba Part II

Days four and five made the trip for me.  I fished exclusively for tarpon on those days and those fish are the ones that will get me back to Cuba.  Lordy they were so wonderful!  During the entire trip everywhere we fished was stunningly beautiful; it seemed even more beautiful on days four and five.  Perhaps I was influenced by the fish, perhaps not.

The guide would pole us across the tarpon flats and call out fish.  We would cast and immediately start stripping as fast as we possibly could.  If you reached forward and missed grabbing the line for the next strip the tarpon immediately turned away.  The gloves made feeling the line more difficult so I had to look down at the line to make sure I grabbed the line for the next hard strip.  It was intense and so exciting.  The line goes tight when they take the fly and the guide keeps yelling, "Keep Stripping, Keep Stripping!"  When the fish took off we did a strip set with our line hand, pinned the line against the rod with our rod hand, and then strip set with our rod hand.  Every single fish jumped on the hook set.  It was truly incredible fishing.

Day six was the cloudiest and the most windy.  At one point my guide said, "El relampagos es peligroso."  I believe I got the Spanish correct, either way, he meant the lightening is dangerous.  It was in the distance but moving our way.  We all had to cut the last day short.  I hooked 4 barracuda before we got back.  They are a bad ass looking fish and made the 10th species I caught.  

The accommodations on the ship were adequate.  The staff was friendly and always very, very helpful.  They really helped make the trip special.  The guides bent over backwards to get us in to fish and to make sure we were all enjoying our day.  

The guides

The deck hand, the hostess, and the captain.  

A very pleasant surprise was how good the food was.  We had fresh lobster as part of our dinner every evening.  

I booked this trip through Fly Water.  The staff there was helpful through every step of the process; I will definitely book another trip with them.  Our host was Blake Merwin of Gig Harbor Fly Shop.  Blake was also great and I would go on another trip with him.  

Blake on the left talking with Scott, one of the other anglers.  

  For the gear whores out there here's a picture for you.

Overall this was a trip I thoroughly enjoyed and would do again.  

Friday, July 21, 2017

Fly Fishing in Cuba Part I

In the summer of 1959 I was still 8 years old.  I caught my first limit of trout that summer.  At that time, for a person under 16, the limit was 8 fish.  My dad let me wander out of his sight to fish.  We were fishing a river and I didn't get two fish from the same spot.  I had to move and keep casting.  It actually took some hours to get all 8 fish. For me, at that point in my life, it was the trip of a lifetime! I had such a tremendous sense of accomplishment.

I remember the first time I caught and released 40 trout in one trip on the Cle Elum River.  I fished four days and caught almost all of the fish on dry flies.  I believe I was 20 years old.  It was the trip of a lifetime.

I remember the first time I caught and released 40 trout in one day, the first time I caught and released 50 trout in one day, and the first time I caught 80 trout in one day.  Those were trips of a lifetime.  Twice, in the 70's I caught and released over 100 trout in a day.  All of these days were on the same Western Washington river.  Those days were also trips of a lifetime.  They are wonderful memories to me; I will always cherish them.

I remember catching my first carp in 2004; now that was the trip of a lifetime!  Seeing that fish turn to the fly and seeing him jump straight up when I set the hook changed my life.  I mean my fishing life of course.  Well, I guess my overall life was changed too.  I never looked back.

This spring I traveled to Cuba to fish.  It was a live aboard trip; we stayed on a ship for 7 days and headed out on skiffs each morning to fish.  As you can see I have been incredibly blessed.  I caught 8 trout in 1959 when I was just 8 years old.  Those 8 fish in the summer of 1959 are hard to top, and yes, I'm serious.  My trip to Cuba was very, very special.  It was quite an adventure for this older guy.  It was also the trip of a lifetime.  I think it was even better than my first limit of trout.  

We flew from Seattle to Los Angles, had a two and a half hour layover and then flew to Havana.  Some of us arrived a day early to see a few sights but we were all there primarily to fish.

The second day we were up at 4:00 AM and met in the hotel lobby at 4:30.  The shuttle picked us up and drove us 3 hours to the ship.  We spent three more hours traveling on the ship to the anchoring point.  Where we finally stopped was isolated and stunningly beautiful.  We put our things in our rooms, had lunch and started gearing up.

That first afternoon of fishing was slow for all of us because we weren't seeing any fish in the flats.  It was disappointing; I felt fortunate to get one bonefish.

The second day the sky was clear most of the time and we were seeing fish.  I released several bonefish and felt good about that.  I also caught a tarpon on day two and that was very exciting for me!

The third day for me was the multi-species day.  Over the course of the trip I caught 10 species.  (Including snagging the guide.)  Okay fine, I'm not counting the guide in my 10 species.  I caught 10 species of fish. (Plus snagging the guide)  It was a great day of fishing, catching, and discovery.

A Blue Runner

A Mutton Snapper

More on days four, five, and six, along with more Cuba pictures coming soon.  

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Starting the 2017 Season

Thanks Kevin, Sam, Jessica, and Jeff for asking why I have been lazy prodding me to get back to the blog.  Here you go.

Starting the 2017 season near the end of May?  Well hell yes!  I'm talking about the carp season of course.  Normally I would have started sooner but it has been cold this year so the beginning of the season has been delayed.  Oh, and one more thing, I was distracted, or completely unavailable. Unavailable........because....................... I went fishing in Cuba.  What an adventure that was for this old guy!  More on that in another post coming soon.

My first fish of the day, and of the season, was a fully scaled mirror; I sure liked that.  It was nice to hook up just minutes after starting.  I thanked the carp for taking my fly.  The first fish being a mirror boded well for the day, for the season, and I think perhaps for all of my life.  Black Betty tricked this wonderful fish.  (I only fish the red tail version anymore.)

We don't see that many mirrors on the Columbia so my friends and I covet them.  If I see more than one fish and I can tell one of them is a mirror I will cast to the mirror.  Much of the time I can't tell if the fish is a mirror or a common until after they slosh or until I get them near me.

Well heck, my second fish was a mirror too.  He was nice and chunky and had almost no scales on his sides.  In this picture I have lifted him up with my left hand and am trying to use the camera with my right hand.  For an old guy like me, that's multi-tasking and it ain't easy.  


This same fish had two rows of scales down his back.  He looked a linear mirror with the scale lines moved up on top.

The "hog of the day" award goes to this next fish.  Lets pretend the reason you don't see the whole fish is because he was too big to fit in the picture rather than me not setting up the camera correctly.  Either way he's a porker.

I saw and caught fish in spurts.  I had a good number of shots and had three fish to the net within the first hour.  That makes me feel way more clever than I actually am.  I kept stalking and then didn't see a single fish for an hour and a half.  After that I got two shots and didn't connect.  I kept moving and started seeing fish again about 30 minutes later.  I put several more in the net and thanked the Good Lord for a wonderful day.

#blackbetty, #carplodge, #carponthefly, #flyfishingforcarp, #mirrorcarp