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Friday, July 30, 2010

Connecting with Keith: Chapter II

The next morning we met again at 9:00. The sky was blue, the wind was down, the water was clear, and our hopes were high.

Okay fine, yesterday we just skipped the 10 fish each, day and decided to just jump ahead to a 20 fish each, day. We both liked that idea and had hopes of several doubles. We headed for a different section of the river but one that we both have fished many times, and again, like yesterday, a section of river that has been good to us.

We both definitely had shots at tailing fish as opposed to cruisers and comatose fish. I hooked a nice Common and got to play him for awhile. He ran out through a weed mat and into the river. I really thought I was going to get him in but he finally broke off in some weeds that were below the surface. Dang it!

Keith hooked up an hour or two later and also lost his fish in the weeds. We were seeing tailing fish but not nearly as many as we have in the past. Keith commented a couple times that he had never seen so few tailing fish in this section of the river. And there we were, two such nice guys, but not many fish to cast to. How could that be. We waded the river for a several hours. We got to the turning back point and saw a few fish tailing. A fish that I cast to tolerated easily 50 attempts from me to get him to take. I have never had that many shots at the same tailing fish. Virtually always if they don't pick up the fly they either swim away or bolt away when they make the fly as a fake. This fish was having some serious lunch. His nose was down and his tail was up swinging slowly back and forth. I would get several casts near him and he would move away. Instead of heading for the deep part of the river he would move 10 feet and start tailing again. I have never had that many shots at the same fish. Amazingly he finally took the fly. He made a nice run down the river and was just two turns from the backing and then he hit some weeds. Bye bye fish.

We had seen so few fish we thought about not fishing on the way back to my Carpwagon. We took turns on the way back walking in the lead and being the one who was "fishing". We only saw a couple more fish and that was that. Again, we were away from the truck for 6 hours. Certainly we both wished that we had caught more fish and that we had a double or two. It is not an effort at all to say that we both had a good time, actually an excellent time. I really enjoy Keith's company and enjoy stalking Carp with him. Catching so few fish was a great impetus to talk about another trip this year before the weather gets bad.

This critter, and I don't know what it is, was sitting in the shade by my truck as we got back. As we approached he scampered into the weeds and just kept an eye on us. He let me take three pictures (with the zoom of course) before disappearing.

There were quite a few grasshoppers on the bank of the river. Most of them were the same gray/olive color. This one was a different color than I have ever seen before. He also posed for a couple pictures before getting back to work.

Thanks for a great trip my friend. Another day Keith--another day... Soon I hope. I want chapters III, IV, V, and VI to happen this year.

Connecting with Keith: Chapter I

I met Keith at shortly after 9:00. We yacked a bit and headed for the river. We talked about exploring some new water and finally decided to just go to a spot that both of us have been many times. The spot has almost always been good to us. That seemed like a great idea. The weather forecast was for clear skies, almost no wind, and temperatures in the mid to high nineties. Oh yeah baby, we were both expecting a banner day. Hmmm... The real weather didn't look like the forecast. The sky was gray. It was totally overcast. We figured it would burn off quickly.

With the gray sky they were much more difficult to spot but after we entered the water we still saw fish early on. Within 15 or 20 minutes I was connected. It was everything that makes chasing Carp on the fly so exciting. A tailing fish, a good cast, (well at least tolerably good anyway) the turn to the fly, the hook set, the explosion, the runs for deep water, posing for a quick picture, and the release. Dang I love fly fishing for Carp!

Now about the weatherman. In western Washington much of the year it is pretty safe to say, "partially cloudy with a chance of clearing." Much of the year it is also safe to say, "a chance of rain." If the weatherman says that he is almost always right about 9 months of the year in western Washington. In central Washington and eastern Washington there is less rain and lots more sun. In July and August it is safe to say, "Sunny and warm." Well that's what he said but that wasn't what we got. Heck, it stayed completely cloudy the whole day. We got sprinkled on at one point and then we got poured on. We were soaked. How did that happen?

I tried to take a picture of the unseasonable rain drops in the river but they didn't photograph so well.

We were walking down river and taking turns walking in front. We help each other spot and who ever is in front makes the cast. Also, Keith gets to laugh at my bad casting and I get to marvel at his good casting. Keith often fishes with both of his dogs. Abbie is he black one and Maggie Sue is the smaller one. He carries Maggie Sue much of the time. He can still cast with Maggie Sue under his arm. It all makes for a good day.

I have lost track of the time exactly but after some time Keith got a nice Common.

The rain stopped and even though it wasn't 95 degrees out we stilled dried out pretty quickly. The sky was very gray the entire day. We each got shots at tailing fish but there just really weren't that many. Adding to that they seemed unusually spooky even for Carp.

It was 6 hours from the time we left the truck until the time we got back. We eached hooked and released one more fish. Not exactly the 10 each I was hoping for but still a very enjoyable day.

Connecting with Keith: The Prologue

I just love fly fishing for Carp; it is so dang fun! The Carp regularly remind me that they are not easy quarry. Some days aren't that great but some days are so satisfying.

This year I have resolved to spend at least some of my sessions visiting entirely new water and also going back to places I haven't been to in at least three years. I left home feeling brave and adventurous; I was going to look at some new water on the Columbia River. (for a second time) The spot I wanted to check out is nearly four hours from home so this is not something I can do on some evening after work. It's a commitment. Still, I'm not complaining; as I said, I love fly fishing for Carp. I also love the extremely varied scenery that I experience as I travel from the west side of the state to the east side.

At the beginning of this season I checked out a new stretch of the river. It looked promising and I was able to wade the bank for well over an hour but never saw a single fish. I thought that may have been because of the amount of boat traffic that day so I definitely wanted to go back on a quieter day and check it out. Instead of getting down to the river's edge and wading in the margins to stalk fish, I stayed up high and walked the cliff looking for tailing fish. There wasn't the boat traffic but I still didn't see a single darn fish. The spot looks so promising. I'm going to have to go back there again.

I drove down the river a good ways to a spot I had not fished for a few years. It was close to 1:00 when I arrived. Interestingly I have caught fish there before but not the last time I was there. Well now, I saw a tailing fish about 3 minutes after I started wading. I would love to say I made a perfect cast and he picked up my fly just like I wanted him to. My cast was pretty good but he made the fly as a fake and headed out to the deep water. It was 45 minutes before I hooked up. It was a marvelous 14 pound Common that did everything perfectly. He was tailing, he turned to pick up my Carrot, he exploded, and took off out into the river. He was even kind enough to avoid a patch of weeds as he went into the backing. The sun was bright, the sky was blue, the river was clear, the wind was down; it was just as it ought to be. It was one of those moments when I thought I could do this all day, every day for a week, and no matter how tired I was I would still want more.

I was having trouble with weeds that I couldn't see. There are places on the river where the weeds are thick; you can see mats on the surface of the water. If a fish gets in them, it's all over, the fish will get away. On this day, even in what appeared to be very clear water I was picking up strands of weeds from the bottom. As I waded there were some spots where I just could not keep the weeds off the fly. It forced me to be very selective about when I wanted to cast. If I picked up a strand of weed on my fly, it made more disturbance in the water as I retrieved it or prepared for the next cast. Weeds moving through the water don't work as a Carp attractor.

Those four hours of fishing were extremely engaging. I was seeing tailing fish and getting some shots at them. Seeing a tailing fish accelerates my pulse and I am fully engaged. It is riveting. Dang I love chasing Carp on the fly!!

I hooked five fish, three on Black Betty and two on the Carp Carrot®. One of them broke me off in the weeds after I had played him for some time. They were all bigger than 10 pounds but none of them were over 15 pounds. I felt very good about my afternoon of fishing.

My friend, Keith, and I were planning to connect the next two days and I felt that this day boded very well for what was ahead. This day was good and I was hoping for even better the next day. Hook five today and land four--let's see, that means I should hook 10 tomorrow and land 8 and the next day after that I wanted to hook 20 and land every last one of them. That's not too much to ask. Let's see what happened...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

"Changing to the Past" Day Three of Three

Why are some days of Carp fishing easier than others? Okay, the conditions vary from day to day and from trip to trip but what about when the conditions are basically the same and we are talking about two or three days in a row? I just don't know sometimes. It's frustrating and it all adds to the puzzle. I think that I know what I'm doing so I want to catch fish every day.

Day III just started off better. I saw fish right away and would see them most of the day. It kept me on constant alert which makes it all so much more engaging. Lordy some place I go to fish for Carp are frustrating and some of them are beautiful. They're even more beautiful when I'm catching fish.

I'm standing in knee deep water here looking back at the shoreline. I feel like I'm in heaven.

In heaven there are so many cool things to see also.

At one point I had made several casts to a seriously tailing fish. He was eating purposefully and was a prime target. I bet I made 10 casts to that fish before he got tired of it and swam away. I was so engaged, actually more like riveted. I took a deep breath and shook my head. As I did a couple very slow cruisers moved into the area. They were in about 3 feet of water. They were in the middle of the water column. Ususally I don't think of these fish as prime targets but I still cast to them fairly often. Well go figure. I laid out the Black Betty in front of the lead fish and also past his line of travel. I gave two strips and he made a quick movement. I thought the fly had bonked him and he was getting away but the rod jumped and we were off and running. What a nice surprise that was.

I actually got two fish to pick up the Black Betty in the water column. I remember why I liked this fly so much! Also, Gerhard, I'm glad that Black Betty is working so well for you.

Black Betty, Bam a Lam. She's so rock steady Bam a Lam. She's always ready. Bam A LAM!*

Bigger fish are more fun to catch than smaller fish but more and more I think that fish in the 10-14 pound range, and I would say 12 pounds if I had to pick just one number, just seem to have more get up and go pound for pound. This is a generalization of course and I may change my mind in the weeks, months, or years to come, but I think Carp in that weight range are "hotter" pound for pound that a fish that weighs 20 pounds. I would like to have a day of multiple 25 pound fish and have them prove me wrong.

This fish was right in the range; he was just a hair under 13 pounds and just flew into the backing. The reel was really singing. Dang I like that!

I have lost track of the exact progression of fish the rest of the day but I do know that I caught fish on two successive casts. They weren't part of the same shoal; they were probably 75 yards apart. When that happens I start to think that Carp fishing is just all kinds of fun. I also remember that I went a stretch where I cast to several tailing fish and could not get a single one to pick up.

I switched to a #12 Carp Carrot and got a fish fairly soon. I got another one and then I remember that awhile later I got yet another one on the Carrot and had him laying in shallow water on some weeds. He was also in that prime range and had also made some excellent runs out into the river. I had the line still tight and was probably just 15 or 20 feet from him. I paused to take my camera out of my shirt pocket and walk over to him to get a picture while he was sitting in the weeds. As I took a step the Carrot shot up in the air. What surprised me was that the fish had not thrashed or flopped; he hadn't made any motion at all. He was still passing water through his gills so even with the Carrot out he just sat there. I thought I might still sneak a picture of him underwater but as soon as I took two steps he moved away. What was really a surprise to me on this fish is that the hook broke. I have bent out some hooks on a Carp in years past but can't remember breaking a hook. It was my third fish on that fly. When there are a lot of weeds or other gunk in the water I check my fly very often to make sure it is clean and hasn't been bobbed by a weed. I had checked that fly before casting and it wasn't bent. Oh well, all I got was a picture of the broken hook, not of the fish.

So I fished for three days. I got blanked the first day, heck I never saw a tailing fish the first day. Was that a good day? I don't know. I guess, yeah, it was a good day. I hooked up a good number of times the second day and lost the first few fish I caught in the weeds. Was that a good day? Yeah, I think was a good day. On the third day I caught twice as many fish as the second day. Was that a good day? Well it sure as heck was a good day in terms of how many fish I caught. It was also a beautiful day. The weather was just perfect. It was warm, the sky was clear, the wind was down and the water was pretty clear.

Was it a good trip? Yes, it was definitely a good trip. On so many levels it was a good trip. The days of not seeing tailing fish or seeing them and not being able to get them to take blend together with the good days when catching Carp on the fly almost seems easy. I want every day to be like that third day but I know they aren't. Days like the first one help me to appreciate every aspect of fly fishing for Carp and help me to savor the days when it almost seems easy to catch Carp on the fly. Almost.

Words to the song "Black Betty" by Ram Jam.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

"Changing to the Past" Day Two of Three

Day two seemed like it was going to be perfect. I got an earlier start. I was visiting "old new" water, the sky was blue, it was warm, there was no wind, and the visibility in the water was good. Oh yeah Baby; here we go!

Okay, there was one lurking problem, but I just looked away from it and pretended it wasn't there. As long as I didn't look at it, it didn't exist.

I had been wading for over an hour without seeing a tailer. I was starting to think that I don't like "old new" water and I only want to go places where there are lots of fat, feeding fish. Finally, finally I saw my first tailing fish of the trip. I got three casts on his platter and he just ambled back out in to the deep water. No love.

Even though the sun was bright and the water was clear the fish were really blending in with the bottom of the river. Before I ever saw them I spooked two fish that were in the margins. Grrr...

The next fish I saw was one that put me on alert immediately. He had thick shoulders and was clearly in the high teens. I didn't see him as soon as I would have liked to so I felt that I had probably gotten too close. I made my cast, it landed just off his platter, I gave a short strip, and just like that he picked it up. Bam! Oh, I like that. But wait a minute, that problem I was ignoring, reared its really ugly, thick, tangled, stupid, head. The Carp charged into the weeds and that was that; he broke me off. I'm a good sport but its way easier to be a good sport when I have already caught some fish that day.

I looked up and down the river and realized that I was going to have a hard time with most larger fish that I caught on this stretch of river because there were more weeds than usual. There were breaks in the weeds so all I could do was hope that I hooked up near a break and the fish would have the good sense to run into clear water.

I was seeing more fish now. Some of them were sunbathing or sleeping or whatever they are doing when they just sit there and laugh at me. Some of them were swimming around in circles. A few of them were shopping and a few were tailing. I cast to a few tailers that were very near each other and spooked them all. I felt that I made a perfect cast to one of them and all he did was just swim away.

Within 20 minutes I had another hookup. This fish was also in the teens but not as big as the last one. But OH, guess what, he liked the weeds too. He was right at the edge of them and I was able to turn him down river. I played him for awhile and it was just as if he knew exactly what he needed to do to finish this nonsense. He headed straight into these weeds and that was that; he broke off.

If only I was good looking instead of nice, maybe the Carp wouldn't do this to me.

I waded some more and was seeing tailing fish. There was no wind at all. I wonder sometimes if a small amount of wind actually makes stalking Carp easier. I'm not sure about that one way or the other. It was awhile before I hooked another fish. It would be the biggest fish of the day for sure. I was able to keep him out of the weeds and finally had him in the shallows. I had backed up to the shore and had the fish right at the edge of the water. There was a slight gravel lip where I was that I couldn't quite get the fish over so I set the rod down in the brush and walked over to the fish. It was just a few steps actually but just as I took my first step the fish made a couple flops and the Carp Carrot came out. The fish didn't realize he was unbottoned for a couple seconds. I thought I would still be able to grab his tail and slide him up on the shore. He started to swim away slowly and I must confess that I actually thought of diving after him. I remembered that the bottom of the river is rocky, my bones break more easily at this age and that fish are very slippery when they are wet. I didn't dive in. Damn it! That fish was over 20 pounds! I count him as being to hand but I didn't get a picture and I wish I had.

Not having hooked a single darn fish, heck not even making a cast to a tailing fish the day before frustrated me. Losing these fish also frustrated me. It was starting to effect my casting. I sat down in the rocks for a bit, drank some water, and changed flies.

In keeping with discovering new water and rediscovering old water I am fishing some flies that have produced for me in the past but that I haven't used in awhile. In particular I wanted to put Black Betty back in the lineup.

I put one on and it produced for me. I was finally able to get 5 more fish to hand.

All in all, it was a good day. The weather was absolutely beautiful. The fish were cooperative. Well some of them were and some of them even let me bring them in. That was nice of them.

It was so good to go back to fish "old new" water and to catch most of them on Black Betty. I'm remembering how much I liked some of this water and how much I like this fly.

"Changing to the Past" Day One of Three

This year I am working to discover new water and to go back and fish some water that I haven't been to in a few years. It can be frustrating and it can be rewarding. But heck, even when I go places I have been to in the past, places that "I'm sure" I'm going to catch fish, I don't always catch fish. Go figure. I think that I have gotten pretty good at catching Carp on the fly. That means I want to catch Carp every time I go out.

I got out last week for three days of discovery and rediscovery. I left home later than I meant to so after the 3 hour drive to the river it was already 11:30. Okay, so I was lollygagging, big deal.

On day one I started at a place I have fished but not for three years. It is actually a gorgeous piece of water. I have caught fish there in years past so this isn't quite the risk that going to some place totally new is. I saw a few fish jump a ways out in the river and I saw three fast cruisers. That was it for almost three hours of wading. That seems so unfair to me. How could a thing like that happen to me? Most people are way better looking than me but still, I'm one of the nicest guys I know. How come those dang Carp weren't there? I've caught fish there before. There were pock marks all over everywhere. Where the heck were they today?

I drove down the river to some new water that I have wanted to try for years. From the highway it sure looks good. I parked at what looked like an easy access point. As it turned out I walked for over an hour and a half but never really found a good place to get into the margins of the river without immediately being in deep water. It was a surprise because the bank was so level. At the end of the day I had not seen a single tailing fish. Not one! Grrr....I ain't pretty, but I'm pretty dang nice; stuff like that shouldn't happen to me.

Here is a picture of me holding all of the fish I caught today.

Days two and three are coming.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Klint's Comment about the San Juan Worm

This is a continuation of my conversation with Klint from Washington State. Klint wrote in two emails: "My best fly has been the SJW. I have tried quite a few other patterns but the fish just react better for me when I am fishing a worm. I have yet to find a fly other than the SJW that carp will even look at." The SJW is definitely a consistent producer--as consistent as any Carp fly can be. Nothing works all the time. Some flies work some of the time. Some don't work at all. I started a blog post months ago about great flies that don't work for Carp. I have experimeted with flies for Carp that have produced well for other species and can't get a take from a Carp. I'll finish that post someday. I think that the seasoned Carp fly rod angler, at least in the Pacific Northwest anyway, should always have some SJW's in his box. They don't always work and sometimes other flies do actually work better. Somedays the SJW definitely works better. I would say one thing about the SJW worm versus most other Carp patterns. I fish them differently and so do the guys I know who also use them. I tend to be willing to let the SJW sit longer than I do a Carrot, a Carp Woollie, or pretty much anything else I use. I fished a few days last week and did not get a fish on the SJW. I got them all on Carp Carrots and Black Betty's. It probably was an even split. I would also say that if you come on what my friend Keith calls, "a violently tailing fish" and you can put the SJW on his dinner plate then you have as good a chance of getting that fish to take as with any other pattern and maybe better. Think of the space around the front and sides of a tailing fish as a dinner plate or spaghetti platter. They typically won't move far to pick up a fly even when they see it. If it's on their dinner plate then get ready to set the hook. I do think that fish that are cruising slowly, or more importantly, ones that are what I call shopping, are a bit more likely to pick up something else than a SJW but I'm not sure of that. A fish that I see stop and pick something up and then move a bit to look for something else to eat, are what I call shoppers. When it comes to picking up fish in the water column versus on the bottom, I think that the SJW isn't as effective here. John Montana, what's your take on this? All of that said, at any one time I always have 3 dozen SJW's with me when I'm Carp fishing. It's a go to Carp fly to be sure.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Grass Carp Flies: Part I

Here in Washington State there are Grass Carp in a few lakes both public and private. The Grass Carp that are here are all supposed to be certified sterile so they can't reproduce. Stocking Grass Carp in any Washington lake, both public and private, requires the permission of the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Lone Lake is a place I have fished since the early 70's. Yikes, is that possible? I have fished it for Trout. It is on an island here in Western Washington. Through the years the property around the lake has been developed more and more as has the rest of the island. Some years the Trout fishing has been better than others with some years being disappointing and not worth the effort and some years being quite amazing for a lake that a guy can drive to.

Several years ago the lake began to be infested with Brazilian Elodea. As it proliferates it can just choke a lake.

I am a member of the Evergreen Fly Fishing Club; many of our members regularly fish Lone Lake for Trout. As the Elodea problem became worse and worse our club, along with the local Homeowners Association, another fly club, and the WDFW, worked to remove the weeds. Elodea is just darn difficult to eradicate. After much research and consideration it was decided that the WDFW would plant Grass Carp in Lone Lake. The goal was to keep the elodea down but not eliminate all aquatic plant life.

Grass Carp are vegetarians; they love their salad. They will eat a bug but not very often by comparison. Well, in a matter of just four years the salad eaters have cleaned out the lake. There are no plants left growing from the bottom. There are some cattails and other weeds at the margins but that is it. The lack of aquatic vegetation is now causing other problems in Lone Lake. To help mitigate this the WDFW has approved a Grass Carp removal program at Lone Lake. People who are participating in the removal process had to be part of a permitting process. We even have to carry a sign and a badge of sorts while we fish.

I have caught a good many Common Carp and Mirror Carp. I have caught a grand total of 5 Grass Carp on the fly. That was several years ago. I know a guy who has some private lakes on his property. He had a permit to plant some Grass Carp in his water. He asked me to try and catch a few of them to move them from one lake to another to help with weed control in the lakes where they were not getting the job done. I spent a couple hours one day observing their behavior and then returned with my son to have a go at it.

We fished the better part of the day; those Grass Carp are not easy to catch. They are very spooky. We were only able to catch them when we were hiding behind the cattails, casting very carefully, and then letting the fly sit for awhile before stripping extremely slowly.

We fished floating lines and 1X leader. I believe we caught 7 total; it may have been 8. I tried some Olive Woolly Buggers and a few other leech style pattersn. We caught our fish on my Scum Fly. We just let it sit there. I should add that later in the day we started greasing the leader so it would float which helped keep the fly near the surface.

Knowing how hard the Grassers are to catch on the fly I was not terribly optimistic when I went to Lone Lake a few weeks ago. The weather was cloudy and cool. I had some Scum Flies but I also was trying something new, the Grass Fly. Katy brought home some Sushi. A few of the pieces were sitting on a strip of fake grass. I went to the grocery store the next day and asked the guy if he would sell me a few strips of fake grass. He said no but he told me where I could get 60 piecs. It cost me $1.50. I cut it in to grass blade size strips and tied it on a #8 5262. Dang I thought that fly would look tasty to a Grass Carp.

I spent a couple hours slowly moving around the edges of the lake looking for Grassers. I cast to where I thought there might be some but not knowing for sure reduces your odds considerably and they aren't good to start with.

Remembering my time from 10 years ago on the private water I finally saw evidence of a Grass Carp. If I hadn't seen it several times back then I wouldn't have known what the heck was happening. I saw the top of a reed moving slowly through the water. It would move, stop, and then move again. Then it would sink a little and then disappear. I remembered that Grass Carp can pick a two or three foot reed, hold it in their mouth, move for awhile, eat some of it, move some more, and finally eat it all. They can root around in the margins and pick a reed off like breaking off a celery stalk. Sometimes after they break one off they will move away before they begin eating it. Kind of like a Sea Gull or a Crow trying to get away from other birds before it begins eating whatever it has found. I also saw something else that I knew told me there were Grass Carp in the area. A reed would appear to be floating flat on the top of the water. It would slowly move even against the wind. It would slide across the top of the water with one end slipping below the surface.

Picture yourself with an two foot french fry in your mouth. You are holding the loose end with one hand. You don't move the fry with your hand, you just nibble it a bit at a time. You nibble in half inch to one inch increments. Slowly the french fry moves towards you as you eat it. That's what it is like when a Grass Carp is nibbling on a 2 foot reed. The fish will be just subsurface and the only evidence you might see is the moving french fry. If the sun is out and the sky is clear, and of course it helps if the water is clear, you can see the Grass Carp eating. They do NOT like company. They don't like noise, they don't like shadows, they don't like movement. Don't take this personally but they don't like me or you either.

I did not catch a Grass Carp in Lone Lake when I was out a few weeks ago. I hope to try again but alas, I am very distracted by my friends the Commons and the Mirrors.

I am anxious to see if my Grass Fly will work when the Grass Carp are more active. I may have to resort to tying lettuce to my hook. Maybe I'll tie a bit of bacon and a small tomato wedge with the lettuce and I'll have the BLT fly. Probably not.

Mr. P.'s Scum Fly

Hook: Tiemco 5262 size 8
Thread: Black or Olive
Body: Olive Crosscut Rabbit Fur
Scum: Scribbles 3D Hunter Green Paint

Tie the rabbit fur on near the bend of the hook. After each wrap seperate or pull the fur out from the hook shank. At random points spread the paint in the fur with a toothpick.

Here are pictures of the same Scum Fly from four different angles. In the water it looks like scum or algae.

All five Grass Carp I have caught were taken on my Scum Fly.

Here is a picture of my Grass Fly.

This is a picture of the box the fake grass comes in with one piece sitting next to it.

Grass Fly:

Hook: Tiemco 5262 size 8
Thread: Black or Olive
"Body": Fake Grass

Cut blades of fake grass from the sheet. Fasten them in different directions.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Gerhard's Questions and a Few Answers

This post and the two preceeding it are answers to emails from readers. I have cut and pasted the emails.

Caller three is Gerhard who is from Aurora, Ontario. Go ahead caller:

"Mr. P.,

I tremendously enjoy your web site and the information provided.
My fishing is primarily done in Southern Ontario, Canada and the metropolitan Toronto area, where favourite spots are storm water ponds with sometimes impressive and very picky carp. The Great Lakes also hold very big fish but they are hard to find in the summer, especially in lake Ontario with the exception of the Bay of Quinte maybe.

The carp carrot is very good fly in some areas, especially with crayfish I believe, but sometimes other colours might be preferable, like olive or green or even black. In your blog you mention different colours, but it does not say anything about what goes together like the orange body and yellow hackle for the carrot.
Do you use yellow pheasant for all other body colours as well or are there other combinations recommended? It would be interesting to get your view on this as when I switch colours now it also means a different pattern. I really would like to see how far the carrot could go, even around here.

Thanks for your thoughts and please keep up the excellent site."

Some answers (and a couple questions of my own):

Thanks for the props about my blog Gerhard; I'm glad you enjoying reading it. I enjoy writing it. Is the water you fish clear, somewhat cloudy, or muddy? Do you wade or fish from something that floats?

Yes, I have tried several other body colors of the Carrot. Variations I have used successfully are red, brown, black, burgundy, white, green, olive, and peacock.

For the hackle on these other variations I have used natural pheasant, pheasant dyed olive, wine, black, green, crawfish orange, purple, and black. I have tied Carrots and the variations with partridge and like using it also.

Natural Pheasant:

Pheasant Dyed Yellow:

As to preferences I still like the orange body with the pheasant dyed yellow best of all. Olive and peacock versions have been good to me along with black and burgundy. I didn't start this blog until 2009 but had been fly fishing for Carp for many years before that so I have had a chance to experiment with a lot of different patterns before I was blogging.

It sounds funny to me Gerhard to call a black version of my Carrot, a Carrot. I don't know what to call it, a Black Carp Carrot I guess; I don't know. I have tied the black bodied version with natural pheasant and black pheasant. I like them both.

In my typed fishing journal, the first time I used the green version I wrote, "I caught some fish today on a 'Green Carrot'--what do I call it, 'Celery'"? Heck a guy could fish a topper and a dropper and be fishing with Carrot and Celery.

I have tied the green and olive bodied ones with green, olive, black, and natural pheasant. What do I like in this group? I think the olive body and olive hackle in this group.

I have tied the peacock bodied fly with an olive and natural hackle, along with a black hackle. Pheasant died black turns out in a surprising way. It has a peacock kind of shimmer to it and changes color as it catches light differently. I use the heck out of the pheasant died yellow but also really like the black. The black is easy to find by the way. A peacock herl body with a black pheasant rump hackle is my favorite in this group. It's not really all black but I call it Black Betty.

Pheasant Dyed Black:

Here is a Black Betty.

And here it is with a red tail.

As an aside, I have fished a peacock body fly with a palmered brown saddle hackle for decades. I tie it very sparsely by stripping barbules off one side of the feather. For durability I counter rib it with fine wire. I have used this for trout and am going to try it for Carp this year.

For the red, brown, black and burgundy, I have used mostly the natural pheasant hackle and also a partridge hackle.

The white version I have only tried half heartedly. My friend, Keith, fishes a white fly that looks like a grub with a tail. I have tied this and fished it but honestly not very much.

I have experimented a bit with purple, crawfish orange, and wine hackles on brown and black bodies and I've also tried the wine hackle on a burgundy body. I haven't done this much so I don't have any thoughts on them.

A Whole Skin Dyed Purple:

Pheasant Dyed Crawfish Orange:

As I said, I use the heck out of pheasant dyed yellow. I use it for Carp flies but also for Trout flies. Several years ago I took a couple "empties" back to the fly shop and told the owner I was there to complain about a couple bad pheasant rump patches he had sold me. He showed genuine concern and asked what was wrong with them. I took them out of the bag and told him they didn't work anymore; they were empty. He laughed and told me he sold refills. I bought two refills and put them to work the same day.

Two Views of An "Empty":

I am committing myself this year to at least one, three day trip where I only fish new water. On that trip I have been telling myself that I am going to really work to fish two or three flies, or versions of flies, that don't usually get first billing when I'm out. If I'm getting shots at tailing fish and they won't take, well then it will be a good day of learning for me with some new flies, or flies I am revisiting. In particular I am going to fish Black Betty, the peacock body fly with the pheasant dyed black, and the olive body with olive or black hackle. I have caught Carp on these flies before but they have taken a back seat the last few years. Its time to bring 'em back.

Thanks again for your email Gerhard.

It is drizzling lightly here at home. I am dreaming of warm Carping days in the weeks to come.