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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

71° and 10°

Two days ago it was 10° here at home. This isn’t the Midwest; good grief it is western Washington. Ten degrees is too darn cold! At this moment it is snowing and the roads are covered with ice.

On November 4, just a mere three weeks ago, I went trout fishing. It was 71°. Is that possible? This isn't southern California or Arizona; good grief it is western Washington. I even wore sunscreen.

Normally at the beginning of November I would be fishing for Chum Salmon. The Chum run is very depleted so the local rivers are closed. My friend, Jerry, had invited me to go to the Harrison River in British Columbia for some Chum fishing but days before we were to go it was also closed also due to a diminished return.

The weather forecaster was predicting unseasonably warm weather for November 4, so Jerry and I agreed to meet at a local lake. This is Jerry with the pram he uses to fish local lakes. People say he is a MEAN OLD man. I tell him not to listen to that kind of talk because it's not true. (He isn't that old.)

Just the week before I had made my latest Carp trip ever. I had spent the summer largely fishing 7 and 8 weight rods with short leaders and 1X or 2X tippet. This first day of fall trout fishing I found myself adjusting to a 4 weight rod, a 17 foot leader with a 5X tippet, and a strike indicator. For the first several casts the four weight felt a little funny but its all good.

To my pleasant surprise after about 10 or 15 minutes the strike indicator disappeared. A nice 18 inch trout buried the thing. I like indicators that indicate! The night before this trip I had put a new rubber bag on my Measure Net and was glad for the chance to give it a field test. The Measure Net has inch markings across the bottom of the bag going up in both directions. Zero is in the center so if a fish's nose is at 11 on one side and his tail is at 8 on the other side, he is 19 inches. It is great for releasing fish without ever having to touch them.

The indicator kept on indicating for several hours. The first six Trout all stayed on and helped me test the new rubber bag in the net. For the next 20-25 strikes many of the fish were teasing me with little taps just taking the indicator barely under the surface but not getting hooked. Some that were hooked came unbuttoned before getting all the way to the net. I helped eight more get the fly out of their lip.

Several other fly club members fished that day also. Dale Dennis, Bob Banks, and Jake Jacobsen were all there. We weren't exactly all fishing together as much as we were fishing at the same time. Jerry and I fished together probably half or two thirds of the day. Indicator fishing is only fun when the indicatator indicates. Otherwise it is deadly dull. Of note was that Jake Jacobsen fell asleep while staring at his indicator. Bob Banks came by and caught him in the act.

The sun on the indicator at the top of the post made it look a different color than it actually is. It is just a plain old orange indicator; the actual color is the darker one in the picture.

The weather was wonderful; it was such an anomaly for a November day. The day turned out to be tremendous. There were cooperative fish in the lake and the company was good. I was packed up and off the lake in time to be home before 6:00 PM.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Sun Finally Sets on This Year's Carp Season

This was a year of discovery for me with my Carp fishing. I fished familiar water to be sure but I also made a point of trying a good deal of new water. Heck, I even went to Montana to catch Carp on a dry fly. I started the season earlier than I ever have and ended MUCH later than any other year. I look back and say, WOW, it was a tremendous season on so many levels. This year I was still fly fishing for Carp at the end of October. The last many years I would have been fly fishing for Salmon and only dreaming of Carp at this point. What can I say? I just had to see how long I could go and still find Carp in the margins of the Columbia River.

So what happens when I go looking for Carp in late October? Well, it's not 100 degrees out. It's not 90, it's not 80, heck it wasn't even 60. I wore chest waders, a flannel shirt, and a fleece jacket. It reminded me of fishing for them back in April which was also pushing the "boundaries" of the season.

October fly fishing for Carp on the Columbia was not like July and August. The water was still; there was no wind and there were no waves. The river was also very low. The day was shorter and my shadow was longer.

The sun sort of slides across the horizon on a shallow arc rather than moving straight up overhead and then back down again. The water was as clear as I have seen it but even in the middle of the day the sun rays were still bouncing off the water rather than penetrating because the sun was still so low.

Stuck and Stuck

Fishing so late in the season, heck I wasn't even sure if it still was Carp season, I went to familiar water. I parked my Carpwagon, strung up the rod, put on my chest waders and then decided to pee before I put the boots on. I only walked 10 steps from my truck. On the way back I felt something sticking in my foot. I sat on the tailgate thinking I would have to take off the waders to take something out of my sock. I looked at the bottom of the waders and found this darn thing.

Let's see now, if I can feel it in my skin, that means it went through the sock. If it went through the sock it also went through the waders. Grrr... I got STUCK and I hadn't even got down to the river. I tried to take it as a good omen that I would be sticking a lot of Carp on this fall day.

I approached the water, gave thanks for all my blessings, and began to look for Mr. Buglemouth. I walked for well over an hour before I saw a single Carp. The truth is I had gotten a little lackadaisical because I had gone so long without even seeing one. The sun was bouncing off the water so by the time I saw the first Carp I was almost on top of him. He wasn't exactly sunbathing because it was too cold for that. I don't know what he was doing there. Just sitting and doing nothing. I stripped off some line and made a short cast towards him and he swam out to deeper water. I went 10 or 15 more minutes before I saw another fish. Okay, this one was tailing. See the Carp; catch the Carp. My first cast was too short. The second one was money. The Black Betty settled to the bottom, I gave two strips, the Carp moved over to eat the fake, and I stuck him. Maybe me getting stuck was a good omen after all. Even in the cool weather he took me well into the backing. It made me smile.

Black Betty "Bam a Lam. She's always ready. She's so rock steady. Bam a Lam..."

The fish posed for a few pictures and then went back in the river to contemplate his mistake. I continued to wade slowly and carefully; it was so odd to have such clear water and clear sky but not be able to see because the sun was low in the sky.

Seeing very few additional fish the rest of the day told me I was pushing the limits of the end of the season. I got a couple others to take Black Betty. Considering how few fish I saw I felt pretty good about that.

I spent the night in an inexpensive, okay cheap, motel.

The air temperature was in the low 40's when I headed for the river that next morning. Not exactly what I think of as prime weather to fly fish for Carp. Mean Rocks Flats is a place that I enjoy and a place I have had some good success through the years. Again, I didn't want to explore new water, I wanted to see how late in the year I could still get a Carp on a fly in the Columbia River. For now I am still able to fish here but the day will come when I just won't be able to wade on these "mean" rocks.

Overcast? Well I think the sky was overcast, when I parked my truck, but how would I know? It was so darn foggy I couldn't see the sky.

It was so odd to be Carp fishing in what I would normally think of as Salmon fishing weather. A client appointment later that day was limiting me to just a few hours of fishing on what would be my last day of Carp fishing for 2010. I did not see a single fish. Not a sunbather, not a cruiser, not a tailer, not a single one. I really felt like I had eeked out the last possible day of Carp fishing for the season. Walking back to the truck it was still in the 40's. I felt like I had fished the absolute "tail end" of the season. I wasn't seeing any fish and there was a small wet spot forming on my left sock. Go figure.

Could I catch more Carp now? If I saw some feeding I could catch them. Well, I think I could anyway. Would I see tailing fish if I went back to the Columbia here in November? Not many; maybe none. It's time to chase other species until spring and to stock up on the Carp Carrot, Black Betty, San Juan Worms, Carp Woollies, and Rubber Legged Hare's Ears.

I was, and am, very grateful for a tremendous season of fly fishing for Carp.