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Thursday, May 27, 2010

New Reel for Mexico

I'm going to Mexico in 10 days to fish for Roosterfish. Yikes, I'm excited. Several people I've talked to have said they have caught Roosters on the fly and that it is quite a thrill. Other people have told me that they have been and have not been able to get one to take their fly. I want to be in the first group.

I got a new Waterworks Vanquish reel for the trip. It is quite an impressive piece of gear.

It even comes with a welcome letter from the staff at Waterworks Lamson. It's a nice touch.

Here is the reel without line and with line. Dang it, I sure want to see the backing on this thing flying off the reel. I'm hopin', I'm hopin'...

I actually wanted the regular reel and this one is the LT version. I wanted the regular version because it holds more backing. The regular version is on backorder so I'm fishing this one and exchanging it out when the regulars are available.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Carp Carrot Questions and Answers

I receive a number of emails about Carp fishing and about my Carp Carrot. Here are some of the questions that people have asked along with answers.

Do you have a favorite size or version of your Carp Carrot?

While I fish it from sizes 6-12 I prefer 8 & 10. I prefer the two versions I have pictured here. Gold dumbbell eyes with a white rubber tail and black or nickel eyes with a black rubber tail. (I spread the hackle a bit to show the body.)

Why do you use the dumbbell eyes?

Using dumbbell eyes was initially about weighting the fly sufficiently to get it down but I have also found that I like that the point of the hook is up when the fly settles down. I think that I get fewer snags and more hook ups. I think the dumbbell eyes create a different look or profile. I would emphasize the word “think” in these sentences though.

Will you sell me some of your Carp Carrots?

Sorry, I don’t sell flies.

Is the Carp Carrot available in fly shops?

Not now but it may be next year.

Will you give me some of your Carp Carrots?

Maybe. If you email me and ask me to just send you a dozen, nope I won’t do it. (It has happened more than once.) If we have corresponded some, then I might give you a few flies. If we fish together then I will definitely give you some.

Why do you think this fly is so effective?

I don’t really know. It is though. I have some thoughts on some of the common elements of effective Carp flies and will mention that in the answer to another question.

You fish this fly on your Columbia River, have you fished it in any lakes?

Yes, there are two lakes, one in particular where I have fished it quite a bit and the Carp respond very well.

Have you tried the Montana Carrot?

Well that’s a bit of a funny question to me. I was fishing with John Montana and his dad two summers ago on the Columbia. It was July 26, 2008 actually. Let me say that John is truly a stellar Carp fly angler and a quality person. At that point I had been fishing the Carrot for three years already. On that particular day I had caught a few fish and John Jr. or John Sr. had not got a fish yet. That’s not a normal day for John by the way. They saw a fish move to my fly. When I released that fish I gave each of them a couple Carp Carrots. The one I gave John Jr. and John Sr. is one of my preferred versions I mentioned above. I have tied the Carrot with a dubbed body and two shades of orange yarn. To say that my Carrot is lighter or darker in color or lighter or heavier in weight compared to another Carrot is also funny to me since I had been tying it for three years before I started giving any away. During those three years I had already tied it in sizes 6-12. I had tried it with a lead wire wrap, beads, dumbbell eyes, and no weight at all. I had experimented with different hackles and body colors too. I had tried it with a rubber tail and without. I made an earlier post in my blog about the history and variations of my Carp Carrot. Like I said, it's a bit of a funny question to me.

Are there other flies you fish for Carp that you feel are equally as effective? If there are will you post pictures of them?

No fly works all of the time for Carp. It’s not an easy game which is one of the things that makes it so engaging. There are some days, not all days, when the Carp will noticeably move to the Carp Carrot. I sure like those days. Other Carp fly fishermen across the country have had the same experience with the Carrot. Still, there are days when the fish prefer the SJW. There are other days when I seem to do better on a Hare’s Ear, a Leech, or on one of my Carp Woollies. I made a post earlier in the year showing some of these flies. I will post additional pictures of some of my other Carp Woollies soon. I should add there are some days when the Carp prefer to nap, look for love, or to eat real food and not my fakes. And there are days when the wind is blowing like heck, or the sky is cloudy, or the river is high, or my casting is bad, or my feet are clumsy, and all of my flies are equally ineffective.

Through these last seven seasons I have experimented with a lot of different flies for Carp. I can give you a good serious list of flies that just plain don’t work for Carp, at least not for the Carp I have chased. I have tried a number of different Salmon flies for Carp and got no love. I really thought that I could get Carp holding in current to pick up small baitfish imitations. I believe that at some point at least some of them actually eat small baitfish but I have not had a take on any of my Clousers or other Salmon patterns, even the small, sparse ones. I have swung baitfish patterns in front of holding Carp and I have dead drifted them and not got a single Carp to take. I have tried some other brightly colored patterns and they don’t seem to work nearly as well as rust, orange, brown, black, grey, burgundy, and olive patterns.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A perfect day--well close to it anyway...

This first picture is one of my favorite that I have ever taken. To fly fish for Carp, in an "ideal" situation" one needs several elements. Feeding Carp in shallow water certainly tops the list. Nothing else matters without the first item. Clear sky with the sun that is more up than down is a huge help. Clear water is helpful and so is a lack of wind. The truth is that most days don't have all the elements, at least not in perfect condition. Last Thursday morning the sky was absolutely clear and the wind was non-existent. It was as if there was no such thing as wind in eastern Washington. I know better than that, but it sure felt like it was true. No wind means no waves on the Columbia. Quite a contrast to two weeks ago. I arrived at the river promptly at 10:30 and was fishing by 11:00. Wading, I was not seeing any fish in the shallows. The fish I was seeing were gearing up for love. The males were chasing the females around; it's kind of like the boys are kissing the girl's butts. Maybe boys of all species are like that when they want something special, I don't know. I saw lots of fish swirling and twirling and lots of fish sunbathing. The tailing fish I did see were all in three feet of water or even more. In fact I never saw a single tail sticking up out of the water the entire day. The water was still and clear. Carp are always skittish but they seemed particularly skittish on this day. I had started with a #8 Carp Carrot. The second tailing fish I cast to turned towards the fly. I stripped a bit and he followed. I continued to strip slowly and he continued to follow the fly. I have seen Carp do this in the past but it is definitely not the norm. We probably did our dance for 20 or 30 seconds until he headed slowly back out to deeper water. Without my fly in his mouth by the way. I finally switched to a size 12 Carrot. This is the smallest I will fish this fly. It seemed to make a difference and I got some hookups. The fish I was able to get connected with were all solitary. They were tailing in three to four feet of water by themselves. I have a new weigh sling and it was fun to give some fish a ride in it. The smallest one I weighed was 12 pounds and as it turned out it took me farther into the backing than the fish that were four to six pounds heavier. More and more I am believing that pound for pound a 12-13 pound fish gives the most bang for the buck. I got a new Waterworks Lamson hat. I tried it out and just like their reels, it works really well. The day was "perfect". All of the conditions were "right". It is hardly ever that way. I caught fish. But now I'm going to whine. Just a little. In three or four feet of water it is more difficult to judge where the fly is and to visually detect the take. I want all the conditions to be right AND I want the fish to be in shallow water so I can see them clearly AND even more importantly I can see them take the fly. I don't think that's too much to ask for. Friday: There were small whisps of clouds in the sky; overall it was sunny, the river had come up, the water was still clear and there was a slight breeze. Again, all the conditions were pretty dang near perfect. Oh, but there was one more thing, there were fish tailing in the shallows. They were tailing close enough in that their tails broke the surface of the water. Dang, I love that! A solitary, tailing fish: Who took my fly. Hell yes! I had been trying the Carp Carrot on really just a few fish and got no love. I switched to my Chocolate Cherry Carp Woollie and they took it. It is just so darn cool to see a tail break the surface, steathily move towards the fish, determine which way he is pointing, cast so that the fly lands on his "dinner plate or spaghetti platter", and wait for the take. Captain Paul Rose, a Carp guide in North Carolina, had asked me for some of my Carp Carrots. I sent him some and he sent me some flies back. A couple weeks ago when I was fishing with John and JP the wind was blowing so dang hard I just stuck with flies I know produce. Though I would have liked to see some fish in 18 to 24 inches of water, conditons were much move favorable today, so I tried a couple of Paul's flies and got a hookup on an olive pattern. Thanks Paul. This fish took Paul's fly. The temperature was in the 80's; it was just a wonderful day; the conditions really were about as good as they can get. There were definitely plenty of fish playing around and only thinking about spawning but there were tailers and that makes me happy as hell. The fish were cooperative and most of them were well into the teens with some going high teens. By the time I released my tenth fish I was sated. Part of that was that my legs were tired, my heel hurt, my hip hurt, and the boots were getting heavier. I wanted to catch another fish but I didn't want to walk anymore and I didn't want to play another one. I just wanted more takes. The take is the premier moment; in all of life the take is the premier moment. I just wanted the takes. I walked back to my Carpwagon very grateful for a tremendous day of Carp fishing and for a good life. (All rights reserved please. Thanks.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Voy a pescar para Pez Gallo en Mexico!

I am going to fish for Roosterfish in June! (Voy a pescar para Pez Gallo en Junio.) My broker has a condo in Mexico. He has invited me to chase Roosterfish with him. I am having a great time getting ready for this big adventure. I have never seen a Roosterfish. I have heard stories and enjoyed the pictures. They are apparently challenging to catch on a fly. I have talked to people who have fly fished for them 4 or 5 days and never had a hookup. Maybe I should only make blog posts after I have been on a trip and have been successful at catching fish. Heck, I could make 8 or 10 posts about getting ready for this trip, go fishing, get skunked, and feel kind of silly. Oh what the heck, I'm having such a good time getting ready for this trip, that's half the fun.

Getting geared up for big game fish in blue water is very enjoyable. I had to buy a big game reel. Wow, what a piece of amazing engineering. I'm tying flies; well, some of them I'm tying and some of them I'm "building".

This picture was from this blog. There was no contact information to request permission to use the picture and no copyright info so I am attempting to give credit where credit is due.

Damn I'm excited!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Roughfisher comes to the PNW

Roughfisher, Mr. P., John Montana

JP (Jean-Paul) Lipton, aka the Roughfisher, traveled from far away Minnesota, to come to Washington and Oregon to chase Carp on the mighty Columbia River. He had a trip arranged with John Montana, for the end of April. I have fished with both John and his dad and always had a great time. John called me and invited me to join the trip with JP. How could I say no? Say no, because these two young tigers walk faster than I do? Say no because they are more sure footed on slippery rocks? Say no because the weather forecast was for winds that could blow a semi off a bridge? Oh what the heck, I said yes.

I arrived late in the afternoon in Oregon the day before JP got there. The first day of fishing was challenging. In the spring the wind blows often and it blows hard in eastern Washington and eastern Oregon. It's probably accurate to say it just blows for about 2 or 3 months straight. It makes stalking Carp challenging.

When it comes to fly fishing for Carp John and JP are both kids; they're just kids. When it comes to fly fishing for Carp I'm a kid too. I just happen to be a kid that's almost twice as old as John and JP. As kids its hard for all of us to resist the temptation to go when the weather is so crappy. We haven't been Carp fishing for months so all of us can hardly wait.

Adding heavily to the temptation to go in April is that while we were virtually assured of difficult conditions we also have the best chance of seeing a large Carp feeding on the flats. What the heck, these three kids got in there and tried it.

On the first day, we moved around a fair amount trying to get out of the wind and looking for tailing fish. It was dang difficult. I got a fish to hand, my first of the 2010 season. We were in a small sheltered area and taking turns casting to tailing or slow cruising fish. I had made a few casts to this particular fish and John, who calls himself "a poacher" said if I didn't catch that fish in one more cast he was going to fish for it. Indeed he did. I didn't pick up my fly though. The fish had two flies to choose from. I like John and I'm happy to see him catch fish of course but I was also happy to see that Carp pick up my Carrot when John was trying to poach that fish from me. It is interesting to me that John Jr. says his dad, John Sr., is "a poacher". I have fished with both of them at the same time and have not found Sr. to be a poacher. Hmmmm...

We walked down the river a ways and saw a huge, "bleeping" tail sticking up out of the water. John did an excellent job of sneaking up on that fish and actually casting from behind a bush and over gravel. It was both hilarious and impressive.

Did I mention that these two kids, John and JP, are in their 30's? Did I mention that I will be 60 this year? It's all good but I am reminded pretty often these days that an awful lot of my frame has more mileage on it than someone in their 30's. I walk more slowly and carefully than kids younger than me do, particuarly on wet, uneven rocks. On the second day the wind was as bad or worse. We were on a section of the river that both John and I have fished many times. We hadn't hooked a fish in the flat and were moving down river. John went ahead "just 100 yards" to see if there were any fish. I decided to wait for him to come back thinking we were going to need to drive to another section of river. My heel has been bothering me and I didn't want to use up my allotment of pain free walking for the day. I waited about 20 minutes, called him a couple times (cell phones on the river--good grief), and then decided to drive down to the spot I thought we were going to. I ended up fishing the rest of the day by myself. I got two fish that were both "in the teens". One of them was thirteen pounds and the other one was eleventeen pounds. John and JP got into a whole mess of 'em. I was particuarly happy for JP because those were his first Washington and Columbia River fish. Very cool for sure.

The next day I think we worked as hard or even harder for fish. I had one fish but I have to say it was a slug. It didn't look sick; I think it just couldn't be bothered pulling. John and JP each had a fish I believe.

I love my St. Croix rods and my Lamson reels. Dang they are good gear!

The Roughfisher has a big, he has a big ammm... well he has a big ammmmm... "space in his waders for fishing gear". That's it. Yup, he has lot's of space there. There is probably some Roughfisher tummy in there too but it's probably mostly flies, and leader, and stuff like that.

Thanks for coming to the Pacific Northwest JP. It was good to meet you and to have a chance to fish with you. I hope you can come again next year.

The Wild Thing

I'm not sure when I tied my first San Juan Worm. Decades ago anyway. I do remember thinking that it wasn't a fly. I guess I thought that because it was so simple and because it had the word, "worm" in the name. Well whatever, the fly worked. It really hasn't been a pattern I had fished much the last 15 years, that is not until I started Carp fishing. I came back to it. Experimenting with different materials and different ways of tying the materials I have come up with The Wild Thing. I have fished The Wild Thing with positive results and plan to do a LOT more field testing. The Wild Thing is certainly more durable than other versions of a blood worm. It is also three dimensional and will hold the 3-D posture while it is patiently waiting for a Carp to come along and slurp it up.