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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cancer, Ageing, Fishing, & Blessings

This week I was planning to go Carp fishing with my friend, Keith. I had to cancel the trip and I was disappointed about that.

My wife's sister, Judy, has stage 4 cancer. She is not long for this life. Early last week she suffered what the oncologist called a "sudden and significant decline". We all thought that the cancer had spread. A CAT scan and a blood test revealed that it had not spread so the oncologist hospitalized her and ordered an additional battery of tests. That was just one of the reasons I couldn't leave town to go Carp fishing.

My Mother is my hero. I am the oldest of 5 kids. In 1967 my dad died suddenly. I was 16. My Mother went back to work and kept the family together. It was sometime in the 90's that she told me she almost lost the house after my dad died. My siblings and I had no idea. I have written about her in another blog but not my fishing blog. She is 88 years old. Osteoporosis has racked her body. She trembles constantly. With a walker she moves very slowly. Her hearing is only fair even with hearing aids. Her anxiety can overwhelm her. She can no longer dress herself or bathe herself. She is living with one of my sisters. We made need to move her to an assisted living or skilled nursing home in the very near future. It is a challenging situation. Again, my Mother is my hero.

I took her to a couple assisted living homes this week to check them out. It was yet another reason why I couldn't leave town and had to cancel my trip with Keith.

My hip hurts. It hurts more often and heals more slowly. It would appear that I am ageing too. Not Carp fishing this week gave my hip a rest but the darn thing still hurts.

I am not complaining. I am incredibly blessed. When my mother says grace she always prays for others and for herself. Her prayers for others are always prayers of supplication and her prayers for herself are ALWAYS prayers of gratitude.

I didn't get to go Carp fishing this week like I planned. Even though my hero was part of the reason I couldn't fish she taught me to know that I am still incredibly blessed.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Two Tone Backing

This report and these pictures are from a day in the first week of August. I got behind on my blogging back then. I had rough drafted a Word document but just never finished it until this morning.

On this particular day I just got lucky I guess. There was blue sky, a slight wind, and the water was just a bit off color. I believe there are Carp all up and down the Columbia but that doesn't mean they are always going to be where I want them to be. I want them to be in easy to wade, shallow water, near a good place to park. I don't ask for much.

This was just a better day than some of my days the week before in late July. I was seeing more fish and best of all they were liking my flies. This one liked the Chocolate Cherry.

Three captures in the 16-18 pound range is always nice. Somewhere I read that 16-18 pound Carp are "apex athletes". I think it was John Montana who said that but I'm not sure. The three larger fish I caught sure earned that moniker. One of them was 18 pounds 9 ounces. I'm still calling that 18 pounds since he didn't make it all the way to 19. It was an amazing, strong, persistent fish. It took me farther into the backing than fish I have caught this summer weighing several pounds more. I honestly didn't realize that the first forty or maybe fifty yards of my backing has become stained from the river. The backing was peeling off the reel and I saw it had just changed to a nice, clean white. I have two tone backing and I didn't even know it. Several times she made the 1X, 10 pound, fluorocarbon tippet whine from too much pressure.

After she showed me the clean backing she took off again.

I felt fortunate to get the fish in. This picture isn't a close up, straight on view like I prefer but I didn't want to traumatize the fish with more poses. This is the fat girl that showed me that I had two tone backing. She took a #8 Carp Carrot tied on a Tiemco 3769 hook.

This was also a very strong fish.

I thanked this Carp for coming out to play and sent him back home.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For...

Getting out for two days of Carp fishing this past week found me confronting dramatically different conditions. Day one brought blue sky but from there it was all down hill. The wind was blowing hard for hours. Every bit as bad as that, and probably worse, was that the river was high again and quite cloudy. I walked the edges quite a ways but never actually got in the water. I never saw a fish so I never made a cast. Hmmm... That means I got blanked.

I finished up early knowing it was hopeless. The rest of the afternoon and the evening I wished for blue sky, clear water at lower levels, and NO wind for the next day's fishing.

The Columbia is a huge river. Near the Carp Lodge it is a mile wide. There is just a whole lot of water flowing down this river. Water level can change dramatically in a short period of time as water is released through a damn.

The next day they pulled the plug. Arriving at the river I could see it was down and I could actually see it receding. The water was clear, the sky was blue and there wasn't a bit of wind. I got exactly what I had wished for. Finally seeing some fish was a huge bonus.

It took over two hours before I had a hookup.

I was seeing fish from a good distance away but they were seeing me too. I wasn't seeing many fish but those that I saw were not being as cooperative as I would have liked. I had to work hard for the few fish I caught. With the water being so clear the takes were visible and very satisfying. Its just that the refusals were also very clear.

I found myself wishing for just a small amount of yesterday's wind and just a bit of color in the water. I am going to have to learn to "wish correctly".

As an aside the last two seasons I have had some conversations with a couple of the guys I Carp fish with regarding how the heck a Carp gets hooked on the outside of the mouth. Sometimes we see them turn to the fly but not pick it up. So far the two theories are that the Carp goes for the fly and misses it by accident and then clumsily gets hooked. In the low, clear water this past week, several times I saw a Carp turn to the fly and then turn away from it at the last split second. More and more I'm thinking that it is like a trout coming to the surface and refusing a dry fly at the last moment. I clearly saw enough Carp turn from my fly after moving to it that I'm thinking they change their mind just before eating the fake. At least today I don't think the miss it; I think they decide not to eat it. I will need to do more field research to be sure of this though.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I covered MILES of water

I have gotten behind on my blogging. My recent post about Cubans and Carp was from a session two weeks ago. I was able to fish two days this past week. On Wednesday, returning to still water and connecting with several nice fish, I finished the day very satisfied.

I had to work much, much harder to find fish this past week than I did the week before. Since there was very little wind I was able to cover miles of water. The electric motor I have on the Zodiac moves the boat right along if Mother Nature (the wind) isn't pushing back. I don't know if I GOT to cover miles of water or HAD to cover miles of water but either way it had to be done to find fish. In one week's time I don't have any idea where the heck they went but they just weren't there in the numbers they were the week before. Two weeks ago I didn't go five minutes without seeing a Carp. They weren't always good targets but they were there in numbers. Last week I motored along for 20 minutes sometimes without seeing a single fish. I just had to work harder at it.

Starting with the Chocolate Cherry I hooked a fish early on but then had some tailing fish and some shoppers turned from the fly. Switching to the Carp Carrot proved to be a good choice.

This fish took the Carp Carrot and then he just "got up and went!" I don't know why some fish are hotter than others but this one was hot. Damn I like that.

This year I have been trying to get some pictures of Carp as I send them back into the water. This is one of my two or three favorites so far.

Two more Carp just before they went home.

This porker took me way into the backing.

This is the last picture I took for this session. It is 5:00 and I am heading back to my Carpwagon. But wait, I see a tailing Carp. Oh swell. I wish it showed up in the picture but it doesn't. The fish is right up against the reeds. He is a good fish and the reason I say he is a good fish is because he ate the Carp Carrot. I set the hook, played him, brought him to the net, thanked him, unbuttoned him, and turned the net over. Thanks again.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cubans & Carp--Do They All Look Alike?

In the middle of July I was supposed to connect with John Montana Jr. and John Montana Sr.

Senior calls himself the "real John Montana". I think Senior is the real John Montana. And I think Junior is too.

John Jr.'s high school basketball coach is Julio Delgado. Both Jr. and Sr. became friends with Julio and they have all fished together.

John Senior hurt his ankle just before we were planning to get together so we weren't able to fish the day(s) we had planned. I was disappointed about that. Some days later John Sr., the "real John Montana", sent me and a few other people an email with some pictures of Carp he had caught on the Columbia.

John Jr., also "the real John Montana", responded to his dad, "We need to teach you how to take pictures. I’m reasonably sure that is the same fish in every picture too!"

John Sr. replied, "They are like Cubans...they all look the same. Oh hi Julio!"

Well good grief Sr., what kind of talk is that, saying they all look the same!!? I mean the Carp and the Cubans. Julio, please accept my apology on behalf of John Sr. He is a great guy; he can be just a tad bit rough around the edges sometimes.

I know Cubans don't all look the same. I looked on the Internet.*

The good natured banter between John Sr., John, Jr., and Julio did give me some pause to think about taking pictures of Carp. An ordinary Carp on the Columbia is about 8 or 9 pounds. In some of the still water I fish an ordinary Carp is about the same size. And in some of the still water an ordinary fish is 5 or 6 pounds. I can fish all day and just get a fish or two. Some days I get several and some days I get a whole bunch. A 16 pound Carp clearly looks different than an 8 pound Carp. I wondered what it would be like to take a "parting" picture of each Carp on a couple trips. Last Thursday I decided to take a picture of each fish as I was putting it back in the water. I knew I would only get one chance on each picture. Even if every fish was exactly the same size and shape all the tail shots would be different. It has been a week since that trip. I remember that I caught a lot of fish but I don't remember how many since I have been out twice since then. I counted the pictures and I see that there are ten fish. I had one other fish in the net. The net was laying on the tube of the Zodiac while I reached in my shirt pocket for the camera. The fish just squirmed a little and he fell in the water. I didn't get his picture. I lost two others in the weeds but I don't count those.

The shutter response time or exposure delay is long on my camera so some of the fish are still sliding out of my hand, some are part way in the water, and some are just below the surface leaving only a disturbance to show their path back home.

These next two shots are the same fish. The only difference is that my hand is just opening in the second shot. I knew I missed the previous fish so I was trying to press the shutter just a bit sooner.

This Carp let me know what he thought about being caught. What can I say except this one crapped on me.

A little late on these next two.

I caught this one just a couple casts after the previous one. He was the weakest fish of the day. He was a slug.

Just about the right timing.

A little soon on this one.

This one was too big to hold with one hand. He was strong and took me well into the backing--just a wonderful fish.

The timing was good on this last fish.

I believe that I have successfully demonstrated that both Cubans and Carp do not all look alike.

Again Julio, please accept my apologies for John Sr.'s behavior. Even though you and I haven't met; I got your back man.

John Sr., if you get to WA again this year let's connect. Hope you can make it.

(I am respectful of other people's content and images so I am showing the links to each place I found a picture. My understanding is that none of them require permission to post but I am acknowledging them anyway.)

women smoking

Gloria Estafan, the woman after her, and Paquito Rivera.

Fidel Castro