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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Shaved Leader

Certainly having Carp take me into the weeds is no new experience. Some days its just dang difficult to keep them out. It is particularly difficult when the fish slurps up the fly within just feet of the cattails. I set the hook and some of the fish turn straight for the weeds and that's usually it. It is particularly bad when the water goes way back into the weeds. They get back in there and that's it.

On this day there was some wind. Well, that's good and bad. Its bad because if it blows too hard it makes it difficult to spot the fish. On days like this one its good because it blows the gunk to one bank or another. Well not all of the gunk but enough of it that I can fish.

A hundred yards of gunk.

How can a guy fish in this stuff?

Some open water

I was fishing from my boat. Most of the fish I caught this day were very near the cattails. Some of them turned to open water when they realized what they just ate was a fake. Some of the rascals turned the other way--straight for the weeds. I had lost three nice fish in a row that new how to turn the weeds to their advantage. I had just put on a new leader and was stalking tailers. A fish of about 10 pounds had his nose down and was working hard on getting a good lunch. I put the fly just past him, stripped it onto his " lunch plate" and just as sweet as you please he turned slightly and picked it up.

He paralled the weeds for a bit and then turned in. I said a couple bad words outloud. There was no one else there to hear so I didn't traumatize any children or virgins. The fish wasn't that far back into the weeds. He stopped so I threw some slack in the line and then moved the boat towards him. I got very near him and was able to lift the line and leader over and around the cattails. We were back in business.

The weeds that shaved the leader.

I got the fish in and was lucky to do so. The time he spent in the weeds literally shaved the edges of the leader. Many times I have seen leader with abrasions and scuffs. I just had three fish break the leader. I had never seen it shaved like this before without breaking.

Shaved leader

I paused to eat a Clif Bar for lunch and drink a pint of water. This fish took the Carrot right after lunch. When he felt the hook set I was very appreciative that he headed straight for open water. I said some nice words outloud. Like I said, there was no one else on the water, so me thanking a fish outloud several times didn't traumatize any guys with big tummies and a keg of beer in their boat.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A "Big Idea Bird"

My beginning forays into Carp fishing were from a boat. More and more these last several years I have fished while wading. I'm down to just once or twice a year fishing from the boat. It has its advantages and disadvantages.

I had a new reel that I wanted to baptize so I loaded up my Carpwagon and headed out. The sky was blue and there was no wind. What else could I ask for? Well, clear water would be nice. The water was murky and it had a lot of algae, or weeds, or slimey gunk or whatever.

There were some spots on the lake that were clearer but still not perfect. About 45 minutes in I got a cast to an 8 pound Mirror. We see mostly Commons around here so I was thrilled that the first fish I played on the new reel was a Mirror.

I got six to hand with the Mirror and one Common being the only two under 10 pounds. The biggest fish of the day was just over 15 pounds. He turned hard on the fly and that was a thrill. The take really is the premier moment.

Late in the day I was being squawked at by two birds. I had found some clear water with a few Carp feeding. The birds were feeding also. This sequence is of one of them feeding. Maybe he was cleaning his beak, I don't know, but it sure looked like he was feeding. At one point this Carp moved near the bird and the bird switched to squawking at the Carp instead of me. The bird actually went up and pecked the Carp on the back. The Carp swam at the bird and the bird backed off but didn't fly away. I found myself wondering what would happen if that Carp had eaten that bird. Then I would be home trying to figure out how to tie a fly that imitated a whole bird. Thankfully they separated and went about their respective business. I did not get that darn fish to take.

A "Big Idea Bird" squaring off with a Carp.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mean Rocks

There are days of fishing when I look forward to familiar water. In some cases that is water I have been to several times and in some cases it is water I have frequented for years. It really does get to a point where I feel like "I know every rock". There is a certain comfort in returning to the known. Water I have fished many times brings back memories; the memories are distinct and the memories blend together. They all add to the sense of anticipation. There are times when I crave the familiar.

Ahh but there are times when I make myself look for new water. I start the day and and tell myself that today I will not fish any water I have ever fished. I make that commitment to myself and tell myself that I will hold to it even if it means driving, stopping, walking, looking, and never making a single cast. Twice last summer I did exactly that. I spent the whole day trying to find access and good flats on some large bodies of water. I never made a cast; in fact on one of those days, the rod never left the truck.

I just did it again; I went looking for new water. The Columbia is wide and long; there is a lot of river to explore. I had been driving from my starting point for close to 90 minutes. I already tried a small pull off but could not find a way to the river. I tried another one and went down to look at the river. I didn't see any tails and the water looked difficult to wade. There was a rock point which I couldn't see around. I was curious what was on the other side so I went back to the truck and geared up.

What made this spot difficult was the number or rocks, the size of the rocks, and the shape of the rocks. There were rocks almost everywhere. They were big and many of them had straight edges rather than being rounded. Also, while standing on them, they would shift, making it quite challenging to keep my middle age butt from falling in. Most disconcerting of all is that many of these rocks were mean rocks.

It was a short walk to the rock point. As I got to it there was a fish tailing just on the other side. I stripped off line and made an excellent first cast. I smiled and felt pretty smug because I was sure I was going to connect on my first effort. No love. The fish just casually ambled off to deep water.

I walked, saw two more tailers, made my approach, and cast. Still no love. Around another small corner of sorts I saw a target in deeper water. It wasn't tailing but it was on the bottom and it wasn't moving; maybe it was feeding. I made easily 20 casts to my quarry. It was amazing to me I hadn't spooked it. I must confess I even changed flies and continued to cast. When the wind settled a bit and I realized I was casting to a rock all I could do was laugh at myself. In my defense, as it turns out, like I said, most of the rocks in this area are mean rocks. That mean rocked tricked me.

After the tricky rock I was able to hook up. The fish was in the high teens. It slurped up my Carrot just like it should and took off. He stayed hooked until he was at my feet. Now that's love.

While I brought several to hand that were in the teens the mean rocks claimed four. I had one in the 20's that I could see while he thrashed around very near me. He headed out into the river, made a right turn and the line went slack. I knew he hadn't come unbottoned; he swam through some jagged rocks and just like that the leader was sawed off.

As if it wasn't enough that the mean rocks claimed four very nice fish they claimed more. While standing on a rock pile and scanning for fish, I made a slight turn to the right to watch a fish move into sight. I didn't even lift my feet; I just shifted my weight slightly to look to the right. The rocks beneath me shifted and I went down. What's the worst thing here? A. There were two rips in my pants from the rocks. B. My leg was bleeding. C. My rod and reel banged the rocks on the way down. D. Three sections of the rod had gouges and scratches. E. The fish was spooked by all the comotion.

I hate falling. I yelled, "NO!" and stood up quickly. Picking up the rod I headed back to shore. I emptied out my pockets and my wading pack. At this point I hadn't actually noticed the gouges in the rod.

The correct answer to the multiple choice question above is "F". None of the above. I left my weigh sling on the shore and didn't realize it until the next day. That is bugging me more than the damaged rod or the swollen knee.

I don't count casting to the tricky rock as fishing so it is mostly accurate to say I only fished with the Carp Carrot. All the fish I caught were on the Carrot; that's accurate.

Here is a capture from before I fell. This particular fish fought very well and he allowed me to play him near and around a couple difficult rock piles. He did fin wrap himself and then while he was at me feet he rolled over and had the leader wrapped all the way around. I was able to get it off actually pretty easily. He took a ride in the weigh sling and then he posed for a quick picture.

I caught one more fish after the tumble. I looked down at the rod and reel to watch the fish peel off line and saw the gouges in the butt section. I was lucky it was one of the smaller fish of the day.

My leg hurt; it was time to call it quits and say goodbye to the "Mean Rock Swim".

Mean Rocks

Very Mean Rocks

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mr. P.'s Carp Carrot

In the last year and particularly after my article, "Thoughts on Winter Fly Tying" in the winter issue of the North American Carp Angler magazine, I received some emails asking me about my Carp Carrot. It was one of my "Five Proven Carp Catchers" in the article. I contributed it in a Carp Anglers Group Carp fly exchange and also contributed it some time ago it in a pinned thread of the CAG Fly Rod forum. I tie it with some variations but it is essentially the same fly. People asked how to dress it and how to fish it.

I have experimented with different body colors, materials, thread, and different ways of weighting the fly. I've tried several colors including red, black, and green for the body. I've also tried natural pheasant rump. The different body colors don't seem to work as well as the original orange.

As to weighting the fly, I tie it unweighted, with a bead, and with dumbbell eyes. I use black, brass, and copper beads and dumbbell eyes. I have used lead wire wrap but like that the least and have at this point in time abandoned the wire on this fly.

I fish the Carp Carrot basically anywhere that I fish for Carp. I adapt to water level, current, rocks, salad, etc. by choosing a different size hook or a fly with a different amount of weight.

Sometimes they will amble over and pick it up off the bottom and sometimes they will pick it up on the strip. Let's be honest now; sometimes they won't touch the dang thing at all but that's fishing.

A year ago I would have said it made my top 5 flies. Now, I would say it is my go to fly. I still fish other flies but the Carp seem to be more willing to move to this fly than to other patterns.

So here it is,

Mr. P.'s Carp Carrot:

Thread: black or orange
Tiemco: 3769 sizes 6-10
Tiemco 5262 sizes 6-8
Bead: brass beads, tungsten beads, and dumbbell eyes in black, brass, nickel, and copper colors etc.
Body: orange yarn wrapped tightly or orange dubbin
Hackle: yellow pheasant rump

Bead Head Carp Carrot

A Carrot patch for the fly exchange

You can reach me at MrP1011@gmail.com

Carp Carrot has a pending trademark application.

All content, photographs, and images are the property of Jim Pankiewicz. Permission is required to copy, download, or use text, photographs, or image files. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express, written permission from Jim Pankiewicz is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full clear, credit is given to Jim Pankiewicz with specific and clear direction given to the original content. Contents on this site may not be mirrored, republished, or reproduced on another web page, website or offline. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fat Bottomed Girls!

A Corpulent Lassie

As Freddie Mercury of Queen sang, "Fat Bottomed Girls, you make the rockin' world go round."

Well now, the sky was clear, the wind was light; I was darn anxious to get back on the water and catch some "Fat Bottomed Girls". Yeah Baby!

I got up an hour later and headed to a different part of the river. I waded for close to an hour before I saw a tailer, but when I did, for the next several hours I didn't go more than 15 minutes without seeing a good target. What a day! I hated to stop and eat my Clif Bars because two tailing fish came into view while I was eating. I was disciplined; I made myself pause and stay seated for 15 minutes. My arms were already getting tired; I knew I would last longer if I rested. At one point I got fish on three successive casts. Oh, how they love Mr. P.'s Carp Carrot.

One particular phattie was in very shallow water. He was feeding and facing to my left. He turned straight towards me as I was making my backcast. I delivered the fly anyway a couple feet in front of him. He paused and then moved forward. I got to see his big mouth open and ever so casually hoover up my Carrot. I set the hook and we were off to the races. He took me way, way into the backing. It was one of those fish where I knew that not only could I easily lose him if he scraped the leader against rocks but I could lose my fly line if he sawed off the backing on a jagged edge. I did finally get him in and his mouth looked big enough to pick up a baseball. Okay, maybe not a baseball but a golf ball anyway.

By the late afternoon I was used up. I could still see the occasional tailing fish but my shoulder hurt, me ankle hurt, my arms were tired and my legs were tired. Hours of wading on rocks in the hot sun takes it out of a guy. I wanted to catch more fish but I didn't want to play them. I was tired but it was such a satisfying tired. I had my fill. Today, those fat bottom Carp girls made my rockin' world go round!

I sat for awhile, reflected, looked up, and gave thanks for an incredible day. I gave thanks for all of my many blessings. I thanked my dad for taking me fishing when I was little.

June 24, 2009--Time for Changes

I have changed careers. After 36 years in the classroom I have retired. Retired from teaching, not from working. I left education with a deep, profound, and enduring sense of gratitude for the privilege of having been a teacher. My heart was very conflicted but my mind was made up. I was ready to do new things in several parts of my life.

I wanted a different schedule. I wanted to be able to write in the mornings and work later in the day and on weekends. Working on weekends forces me to fish during the week; oh yeah! Besides writing in my fishing journal, writing short stories, and writing articles, I was ready to start blogging. I have been a licensed real estate agent since I as a college kid and I was ready to be a full time agent. I wanted new challenges; I like that this market is difficult.

I had been (pleasantly) caught off gaurd by how busy I had been with customers and clients. So busy I was concerned I may not get to go on this trip. I had been anticipating it for days, well more like weeks.

Instead of leaving early in the morning like usual, I left home well into the afternoon. I spent the night near the river, was up at 6:10, had a big breakfast, and was on the road. The sky was clear but the wind was blowing so dang hard, Max, my Carpwagon, was shakin' and rockin'.

On the river at 7:53, looking at white caps everywhere, I reminded myself that I would rather have wind than cloudy skies when Carping. I tried to act grateful that the sky was clear and ignore the hurricane. The wind was blowing so hard it was affecting my balance. I had to step more tentatively, even standing still, a good gust could knock me off balance. The wind and rough water made visibility fair at best and probably closer to poor. Three hours of wading and I didn't see a single tailing fish, just two fast cruisers escaping the thumps of me slipping around on the rocks.

When the first tailing fish appeared I was so surprised I didn't even need the wind to knock me over, I just about fell on my butt of my own accord. Lo and behold, he even took the fly. He would be the first of several and the smallest fish of the day. He is posing at the top of the post.

An hour passed before I saw another tailing fish. As the wind calmed a bit visibility improved and some fish moved in to the shallows. I didn't get a touch on the SJW. Three fell to the Chocolate Cherry Carp Woollie and the rest to my Carp Carrot. Three of them were in the 13-15# range.

Life is good.

A fat owl

All content, photographs, and images are the property of Jim Pankiewicz. Permission is required to copy, download, or use text, photographs, or image files. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express, written permission from Jim Pankiewicz is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full clear, credit is given to Jim Pankiewicz with specific and clear direction given to the original content. Contents on this site may not be mirrored, republished, or reproduced on another web page, website or offline. All rights reserved.