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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Indicator Fishing for Carp: Part II (and Gregg Martin's Story)

In Part one of this sequence on indicator fishing for Carp I talked about my background with indicator fishing and about an email exchange between Gregg Martin and I. In those emails we talked about alternative materials for Blood Worm imitations and about fishing with an indicator.

Gregg has three grown sons. In 1985 he sustained an injury as a smoke jumper in Alaska. He is a T7/T8 paraplegic. It took him 9 days to regain consciousness after his accident. The injury limits his mobility and causes him continued pain. Gregg still gets out and fishes though. He says that the endorphins from fishing help ease the pain. He is exhausted after a day of fishing and needs to rest for days before he can get out again. Gregg, I don't think you realize how much your emails and your story inspired me. A quote from Gregg that I like is, "I must be flexible when conditions are poor." When he wrote this he was primarily talking about the fishing conditions. His lengthy and informative emails show that he is "flexible when conditions are poor", when it comes to his own personal condition too. Again, I'm inspired Gregg.

Gregg fishes mostly stillwater near his home in Boise, Idaho. His home waters are not very clear. He can see Carp near the surface sometimes but usually sees only bubble trails. He uses an array of flies to trick Carp; his favorite is a peach colored yarn, egg fly. He likes fishing it under a strike indicator. It appears to be his favorite method for catching Carp.

Gregg fishes in water that he describes as, "inches to say 3 to 5 feet deep". He says that even when the water isn't cloudy the glare or the algae make spotting Carp difficult. Even in shallow water he uses an indicator effectively. He sees Carp bubble trails in water up to 9 feet deep but has trouble placing the fly near the target when the water is that deep. Amazingly he fishes the fly just inches under the indicator at times.

When I am indicator fishing for Trout I start the fly a foot off the bottom and work up the water column as needed. Finding the correct depth can be very challenging at times. I don't usually have to go much farther up though. Gregg usually fishes his egg pattern on the bottom.

The guys I know who indicator fish for Trout use some slang. "Burying the indicator" means the fish pulled it under water and out of sight immediately. "Soaking it" means casting out and letting the fly just sit. Moving it is self-explanatory; it means moving the fly and not soaking it. It is important to point out though that the fly is moving VERY slowly. A slow, intermittent hand twist or slow, short strips are typically plenty fast for fishing a Chironomid or Blood Worm.

He says the takes from Carp are, "Not subtle; they are authoritative. Sometimes it (the indicator) slides slowly away". He points out that very often he doesn't need to set the hook as the Carp hook themselves.

In answer to questions about targeting fish and the bubble trails Gregg says, "...they are so obvious. Sometimes the bubbles are hypodermic like and sometimes they are like a toilet flushing under water, it's so obvious and so different from lake bubbles and fry feeding on top."

In terms of targeting strategy Gregg tries to cast to the bubble trail if it appears to be stationary and cast ahead of it if he sees the trail moving. He feels that the indicator is also a good tool for targeting fish that are, "occasionally visible".

Gregg had usually been tying his egg pattern in sizes 6 and 10. He is now tying them in size 2. He relates, "the Allen 105 #2 makes an egg 3/4 of an inch, I can't wait to use them!"

Gregg sent me a picture of his egg pattern:

Here are some of Gregg's other patterns; the all look like they would catch Carp for sure.

Gregg, you wrote to me in one of your emails, "You were so kind to answer things that may seem irrelevant." I find myself feeling somewhat like I did 25 years ago on Chopaka Lake. The difference is that I have a lot of indicator fishing experience now. What is the same is that the indicators are upstairs in a drawer and it has hardly even occurred to me to try them for Carp. Twenty-five years ago the other angler thanked me for giving him flies. I was the one who truly owed him the thank you for showing me how to use a Corkie as a strike indicator.

Gregg, I think you opened another door for me in the "house of indicator fishing". Thank you. Come spring I will commit to trying it places where I see bubble trails but can't see the fish.

Your story and your courage in the face of adversity is an inspiration Gregg. Please accept my heart felt thank you.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Indicator Fishing for Carp: Part I

Having done a good deal of indicator fishing for Trout since the mid 80's I feel comfortable and proficient with the technique.

At Chopaka Lake, some 25 years ago, I observed another fly fisherman staring at a little pink ball sitting on the water. He was hoping for it to disappear under the surface of the water. Lo and behold it did. Several times.

Rowing nearer the pink ball I asked the owner what he was doing. He explained that the pink ball was a "strike indicator." He offered to give me one and a toothpick to boot. The toothpick was pushed in the pink ball and held it in place. I had never seen a "strike indicator" before but I could sure see that it was working. As I looked at the indicator it looked familiar to me. I asked, "Is this a pink pearl Corkie for Steelhead fishing?" He answered that it was. Who knew? I still had some in a drawer at home from when I used corkies and yarn for winter Steelhead in the 70's. Well, well, I had strike indicators and I didn't even know it.

Even back in the 70's I had already fished Chironomids for Trout for several years. At that time there were floating lines, wet tip lines, and full sinking lines. There were no density compensated lines or clear intermediate lines yet. If there were, they were certainly outside of my experience and not widely in use in the Pacific Northwest.

For Chironomid fishing a floating line wasn't quite right and a sinking line wasn't quite right either. Neither was a wet tip line. I finally created my own Chironomid lines. I took a floating line and cut off the last 5 feet. I spliced a short piece of dacron backing on the fly line. I made three different heads to experiment with. I spliced a piece of dacron on each of the heads. I had a 3.5 foot head, a 5 foot head and a 7.5 foot head. There were wet tip lines at the time with 10 foot sinking tips. I called my creations "wet nose" lines. They got the Chironomid to sink more than a floating line but not as much as a wet tip line. I used a bobbin threader to splice the two pieces of dacron together with each one inside the other. I know that sounds like it isn't possible but it is. They pulled on each other and worked like a Chinese finger trap.

I caught a lot of Trout with my wet nose lines. Over time I was almost exclusively fishing the two shorter tips.

That evening I first saw that guy staring at a Corkie, was a true "door opening experience" for me. I was already tying lots of Chironomids. In fact, I had a good deal more variations than the guy with the indicator. I gave him some flies that evening. He was fishing a TDC, one of the primary Chironomid imitations at the time. He told me it was his Chironomid. It was the only one he had and really the only one he knew of. It was black with a silver rib. Because I gave him some other colors he felt like he got the good end of the informal deal. I knew better; I was the one who got the good end of the deal because I had never seen someone indicator fish until that evening.

The more anglers asked of Corkies as strike indicators the more we all realized their limitations particularly as we tried to fish deeper water. Instead of pushing a toothpick in the Corkie we started pulling pieces of rubber bands through with a bobbin threader. The rubber band held the Corkie in place on the leader but made it much easier to slip down the leader to adjust for different depths.

Through the years I would try many different kinds of strike indicators for Trout and one kind for Steelhead. I moved off the Corkies as soon as I found other viable commercial alternatives.

Many of us tried tying antron yarn to the leader. We experimented with various twist and turn indicators, pinch on sticky foam indicators, and Bio-Strike. I have some funny and frustrating memories of fish taking the Bio-Strike indicator and just not wanting to let go. How could they take that stupid blob of orange goo and ignore my wonderful fly? How could they?!

Eventually, probably about 12 or 13 years ago, I came on the Quick Release Indicator from Waters West fly shop in Port Angeles, WA. While using indicators in deeper and deeper water a decided problem presented itself. If I was fishing a foot off the bottom in 17 feet of water I had 16 feet of leader below the indicator. It was darn difficult to reel in the fish and get it near the net. The Quick Release Indicator opened up yet another door in the "house of indicator fishing". I was now able to fish the deepest parts of Dry Falls Lake with a Chironomid. There were days when we were fishing with 27 foot leaders. The keys to making this work were to keep the indicator very near the fly line, not use a tapered leader, and NEVER put the fly in the boat. If the indicator is near the fly line (this is critical) it is actually surprisingly easy to cast the long leader.

Here's my biggest concern with indicator fishing. I really like indicator fishing when the indicator indicates. When the indicator doesn't indicate and just sits there and sits there, it is boring as hell. When a fish buries the indicator below the surface of the water that is of course very cool. When a fish just barely makes the indicator move sideways or even towards me it is so subtle. The very subtle takes are exciting in their own way and it is a great feeling to have the fish answer on the hookset. Ahh yes, indeed the take is The Premier Moment.

Since first trying the Quick Release Indicator I have also tried the Thingamabobbers, Frog Hair indicators, and O Ring indicators along with some of the newer foam indicators. I still haven't found anything that rivals the Quick Release Indicator.

Before I was writing this blog I was writing a column for North American Carp Angler magazine. As a result of that I would get email with comments and questions. I got a couple emails asking me if I ever indicator fished for Carp. I replied that I just didn't see the need.

McTage made a post in his blog where he talked about catching a Carp using an indicator. Gregg Martin, from Boise, Idaho, made a comment to that post and Gregg also made a comment on my blog. Before the indicator discussion Gregg sent me an email about San Juan Worm imitations and about alternatives. That started a lengthy exchange between Gregg and I. It has been a real eye-opener for me to learn how he is using indicators to catch Carp. I think another door may be opening for me in the "house of indicator fishing."

I asked Gregg a series of questions and his answers were fascinating. What an interesting man!

I will post my questions and his answers very soon.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Feeling My Blessings---80 Things I am Thankful For

It is before 6:00 AM in the morning here in Bothell, WA. This blog, Mr. P.'s blog, is one of the blogs I write. In 2009 I wrote what follows for a post I made in another one of my blogs, "A Few Words." My blog, "A Few Words" evolved out of the talks I used to give on Fridays. The ending is the way I ended class every Friday. I end my blog posts in A Few Words with it. I just decided to leave it in this post the way it was originally written.

This blog is my fishing blog and I originally intended to "just write about fishing" here. I allowed the lines to blur between the two blogs about two months ago. I made the same post in both blogs. It seemed odd to me at first but I liked it in the end. Most people who read one of my blogs don't know the others even exist. A couple people who read "Mr. P.'s blog" and "A Few Words" emailed and Facebook messaged me and commented that they liked that I made the same post both places.

Just like two years ago, today is Thanksgiving. I spent 5 hours composing this list back then. It is good for me to reread my own list; it reminds me of all that I am thankful for. It reminds me to embrace each day with a gratitude attitude.

From November 2009:

Today is Thanksgiving. This is a list of things for which I am thankful. I believe it is important to "count my blessings" but it is more important to "feel my blessings". These items are intentionally not prioritized. They are in random order and range from simple to serious. Some of these items are at the core of me. Some of them are things I am regularly aware of but are still relatively simple. A couple may make you chuckle. Some are things I just thought of while writing. There are some pictures included also. I didn't have a particular number in mind when I started out. I decided to write until I was ready to be finished.

I have posted some pictures but need to get ready to leave for Thanksgiving dinner. I will post more pictures in the next few days. (I posted those pictures.)

I am extremely grateful for all the many blessings in my life. Here are just a few of the many things for which I am very, very, thankful.

1. Clean drinking water--I just turn on the tap and there it is. Its safe and plentiful.

2. The rule of law--We are all protected by laws, a system of law enforcement, and a judicial system that is amazing.

3. Central heating--I program the thermostat and the heat comes on. In 1970 my girlfriend, Candy, and I spent a night on the ground lost in the woods. Had it rained we likely would have died of hypothermia. I sure appreciate that the heat works in our home. I would add that I am also thankful for Candy.

4. A comfortable bed--Its warm, safe, and suitalby firm for our middle age backs.

5. The sound of rain--I like hearing this when I'm falling asleep in my comfortable bed.

6. The World’s Greatest Wife--Katy is the best. Simply the best. Next month we will have been married 32 years. We are friends, lovers, and soulmates. Marrying her was the smartest thing I ever did.

7. Inspiring people and their stories--I enjoy reading and hearing about what other people have done to overcome adversity. I like the stories of famous people and even more so I like the stories of "not so famous" people.

8. Parents who loved me--Frank and Teresa Pankiewicz loved all five of their kids. It is such a gift too easily taken for granted.

9. My Mom who persevered when my Dad died when we were all young--My parents were married in the 40's. They were happily married; they loved and respected each other. They communicated well and problem solved well. My Dad died very suddenly on February 22, 1967. My mother was devastated. She went back to school, got a job and kept the family together. She is my Hero. She will always be my Hero.

10. Our servicemen and women--Are we as a country always right? We're not. Do we use our force and our might correctly all the time? Probably not. And yet, in so many ways we are the protectors of freedom in the world. Regardless of whether I, or anyone for that matter, agrees with where or when our servicemen and women are fighting at any point in time or history, they are nevertheless risking life and limb. I appreciate that. These are some pictures of the Veteran's Memorial we built on the campus in cooperation with Marysville Rotary. The picture in the snow storm is still my favorite.

11. Being an American--Winston Churchill said, "Democracy is the worst form of government there is. Except for all the others that have been tried." We have our problems here but we are still incredible in so many ways. I'm grateful and proud to be an American.

12. That I enjoy writing and even have some of my articles published--I am the Fly Fishing Editor for North American Carp Angler magazine and have a column each issue. It pleases me to write the column and it pleases me that people enjoy reading it.

13. Fishing--Fishing is in my blood. My earliest memory that I can place in time is of myself fishing with my Dad. It still gives me great enjoyment. I enjoy planning, preparing, traveling, stalking, casting, catching, photograhing and releasing. I still love to fish.

14. Fishing gear--I dig the gear. Its like a bunch of toys for a middle age kid.

15. My Alumni--I had the privilege of being a teacher for 36 years. I loved thousands of kids.

16. And them keeping in touch--Over and over it puts a smile on my face to continue to hear from my Alumni. Email, Facebook messages, letters, phone calls, text messages, meals together, its all such a source of joy to me.

17. Good teachers I had as a student--I am thankful for the good teachers I had through the years. In particular I appreciate the ones who cared and went the extra mile.

18. Good teachers I worked with at the high school--I knew and worked with many high quality, caring teachers and I hold them in very high regard.

19. Good administrators I knew--I appreciated the leadership of most of the principals at the high school.

20. Facebook--What a pleasant surprise this has been. I have connected with Alumni who live literally all over the earth as well as people from other parts of my past.

21. My new career--I have been a real estate agent since 1971. Now that I have left the classroom I am working real estate full time and I have embraced my new life. I have really enjoyed helping people get their homes sold and helping them find new homes. I like the many new aspects of the work and the schedule. I also like the new challenges. Building my webpage, HomeProResults.com, and starting a real estate blog has also been enjoyable. Call me when you are ready to buy or sell a home; I'll take care of you.

22. My hopes and dreams--I am thankful that I have have lots of hopes and dreams. I'm thankful that a lot of my dreams have come true and I believe that I will continue to be thankful as more come true.

23. My creative energy--I am thankful that I still have lots of energy to risk, to try new things, and to look at things differently.

24. Good health--Someone said, "Your health is your wealth." I don't know who said it but I am so thankful for my own good health, Katy's good health, and the good health of my kids.

25. Modern medicine--In part we all have that good health because of some aspect of modern medicine. My father--in--law was a family practice doctor for 42 years. He had been a doctor in the Army in World War II treating burn victims. He died in 1988. I remember him telling me, and getting choked up when he did, what it was like to be able to perscribe Penicillin for the first time. He talked about how mothers would bring their kids in with ear aches. He said that it was something they could die from. Perscribing Penicillin would beat the infection and the kids would live. He said very emotionally, "You can't imagine what a miracle that was."

26. Good books--I just finished "Outliers" and am currently reading a murder mystery set in the times of the Roman Empire. Before that I finished the lengthy, expansive, epic novels "Winds of War" and "War and Rememberance". I am thankful that I can read and that books are easily accessible.

27. Friends--I have been incredibly blessed through the years with many good friends. All of us experience through the years people coming in and out of our lives. I am thankful for those friends as well as the ones who have been friends for decades.

28. Warm sunny days--I am thankful for this simple pleasure. Shorts, t-shirts, Tevas--ahhhhh...

29. Barbecued dinners--I don't want to eat barbecued food every night but when the weather is nice I sure enjoy it.

30. My memory--Well, its good, and I am thankful for that. Partly its the way I was built and partly its something I work at.

31. Recorded music--I would much rather listen to music than have the TV on. I enjoy so many different kinds of music.

32. “Unbiased News” media--Okay, I won't go so far as to say that the news media in our country is all unibased. It just isn't. What we do have is the opportunity to see and hear "opposingly biased" news media and I am thankful for that.

33. My memories--I remember that I wrote "my memory" just a bit ago but this isn't the same thing. My good memory remembers the good and the bad. I am grateful for all of it.

34. Cell phones--I am thankful for this modern convenience.

35. Our kids--I can't imagine my life without our kids, Joe, Mike, and Annie. Through it all I love each of you more than life itself.

36. Do I count my new daughter-in-law as one of my kids? Yup, I do. I love you too Kelly.

37. Being persistent--I am persistent about things and I'm thankful for that.

38. Being persistent--I am persistent about things and I'm thankful for that.

39. Being persistent--Well, maybe I'm stubborn, I don't know, but I'm thankful that I'm persistent even though sometimes I maybe should have just let something go.

40. Oh, and a good sense of humor too--I am thankful that I can laugh at myself, my foibles and mistakes, and at the world. It helps me to get through things, enjoy the day, and find the positive in situations.

41. Sex--with my wife of course.

42. Goretex raingear--Modern gear is so dang nice. Goretex jackets and waders, fleece, and frameless packs to name a few are a pleasure to use.

43. The “Y”--I like working out at the "Y" and I am thankful there is one just ten minutes from our home. I also like that there are people there of so many different ages who have different body sizes and fitness levels all doing something to work towards being healthy.

44. Roses--I babied my rose gardens for 20+ years. They are a lot of work but when a bud was blooming it was like listening to music.

45. My extended family on my Mom’s side--My grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and my cousins have shared something quite unusual. We have remained close for the 65 years that the first cousin was born. I am immensely thankful for this.

46. That I am usually able to fall asleep quickly--I don't always sleep all the way through the night but I almost always fall asleep within minutes of hitting the pillow. I am thankful.

47. Naps--I can take a twenty minute nap almost anywhere. Its an art I guess but a good nap sure feels good.

48. That I woke up this morning and everything works and nothing hurts--I try to be thankful for that every day.

49. Email--It sure makes communicating easy.

50. That I enjoy the little things--I am thankful that I can take genuine pleasure in small things.

51. Fall colors--This year was particularly striking.

52. Christmas music--Yes! I like all kinds of music but sure enjoy my Christmas music for the next month. I tried listening to Christmas music in July one year but it sounded completely out of place.

53. The challenges in my life--I am grateful for the good times and the bad. Its much easier to say that when I'm not immersed in a period of dark days or just plain lost, but I still am grateful for all the challenges.

54. That I don’t just adapt to change sometimes I make it happen--I am grateful for the changes I have experienced and I thankful that I have actively worked to make change in my life and in the world around me.

55. My fat cat--His name is Rudy. He spends a fair amount of his day sleeping. I appreciate the art of napping but he sleeps more than he is awake. He does a few other things besides sleep. I guess he's doing what cats are supposed to do.

56. My new neighbors--Katy and I moved in August 2008. We sold the home we raised our kids in where we had lived for 25 years. We had a new home built and we love it. We are both thankful that we have good neighbors.

57. Bread--Through the years I made a lot of noise about liking chocolate. I do of course but would never consider chocolate comfort food. Bread is comfort food. Even with a diminished appetite of a middle age guy, I can still eat a lot of bread. I especially like all the artisan breads they have today.

58. Italian Food--Pasta, Ravioli, plus lots of other specialty dishes sure are good.

59. That I am willing to try things that don't look easy or haven't been done before--I like like this about myself and I don't like this about myself. When I'm planning or getting ready to try something challenging, I like it. When things come together and work well I really like this about myself. When something doesn't work the way I want it to or hoped it would, I DO NOT like this about myself! Still, I am thankful I am willing to risk and I'm thankful to all the people who have helped me with so many different kinds of risks through the decades.

60. My faith in God--Its strong. It centers me. It grounds me. Its important.

61. The Internet--How on earth did we find things out before the Internet?! How did we communicate? What an amazing invention.

62. The places that I have hiked and fished. Rivers, lakes, saltwater, the mountains, so many beautiful places--I love to fish and am thankful for all the times I have been able to go. In the pursuit of fish I have seen some beautiful places. Being in, on, and around water, always pleases me.

63. My truck and all the highways and roads that let me travel all over chasing fish--I am thankful that my truck and our country's extensive system of roads makes travel easy.

64. Perscription glasses--I would be unable to drive or do a heck of a lot of other things without perscription glasses. Man am I thankful for my glasses.

65. Perscription sunglasses--These are especially nice when I am fishing on a bright, hot, July day in eastern Washington.

66. The bamboo plant and the shamrock on my office desk--They help keep my attitude right.

67. Caller ID--Its nice.

68. Caller Block--We couldn't transport our old landline with us from Mukilteo to Bothell without paying an additional charge. We chose to get a new number instead. The people who had the number before us apparently owe somebody some money. We were getting three or four calls a week from varous collection agencies looking for these people. Even when I would call them back and suggest that they look at their caller ID or look up our name and number online to see that we were new people, they would continue to call and ask for Melissa. Finally we got a phone that blocks their numbers selectively. Its a simple thing but we like it.

69. Computers--Just like the Internet, how on earth did we function without them. I am thankful for computers and all that can do.

70. That I'm a pretty dang fast typist--My back and my rear end get sore sitting at the computer so I'm thankful that I can type quickly.

71. Wildflowers--Someone said, "When the earth smiles, it smiles in flowers". I love it when the earth smiles.

72. Referrals--I have so much appreciated the people who have referred new real estate customers and clients to me. Thank you.

73. Extension cords and surge protectors--They help make our Christmas village light up and they protect various electronic devices in our home.

74. Soft toilet paper--The older I get the more I appreciate it.

75. Prayer--I pray every day. Several times a day actually. I do it formally and informally. At least once a day, we pray outloud together. I believe strongly in the value and importance of prayer. I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to pray.

76. Scenery--Fishing has brought me to some beautiful places and so has hiking. I am thankful for the vastly different places just here in Washington. We have the ocean, mountain ranges, rivers, lakes, and desert. I am very thankful to have grown up in Washington and to have lived here all my life.

77. Blogging--I am thankful for the opportunity to write and for the people who read what I write.

78. Chocolate--Yum, yum, yum. What else is there to say?...

79. Forgiveness--I am thankful for the times I have offered forgiveness and for the times I have been forgiven.

80. Diversity--There is so much diversity in my neighborhood and in our country. We have our problems in this country and I don't want us to ignore them. We are still truly the beacon of hope on this planet. I appreciate the diversity and again, am awful darn thankful to live here.

It is the weekend. Please be good. Drive your cars carefully. Ride with people who drive carefully. Treat yourself with respect. Spend time with people who treat you with respect. Treat other people with respect. Talk nice to yourself; you deserve it. I look forward to hearing from you or seeing you. Keep yourselves whole physically and emotionally.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Feel your blessings.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Euro-Carp Fishing Quiz

Here are 20 Euro-Carp questions. Its sort of like a quiz. You are trying to explain what each of these statements means. Come on, its just for fun and its easy. You may already know the answers because you use Euro-Carp methods. You may not know a single one. All the answers to this quiz are in this article. You can read the article and test your memory or read it after trying the quiz. Or do both. Here you go.

I don't do this kind of fishing but I sure have enjoyed learning about it and just learning the vocabulary.


1. We shorted up.

2. I have some serious kit lust.

3. Is there chocolate glug?

4. The bite alarm went off on my margin rod.

5. The chugger liked the strawberry pescaviva.

6. I wasn't prepared for the drop back take.

7. It was time to bag up.

8. I had more hectic sport yesterday.

9. A knicked floater cake was spot on for those popping up.

10. I will be trying the bait boat today.

11. Bloody hell, another crack off!

12. We forgot the marker rod; good thing we have fished here before.

13. What a great swim!

14. We catapulted 15 pounds of freebies. The whole damn lot was hoovered.

15. Good thing my buddy had lock shot; I was out.

16. The mid rods went quiet.

17. Hemp is better than boilies.

18. Blasting into the margins I had the temptation to bully him too hard.

19. There is nothing like a good specimen hunter.

20. Both bivvies, both brollies, and both bait buckets fit in the barrow.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nets, Slings, and a Tape

In 2004 when I first started corresponding with Euro-style Carp fisherman a whole new perspective opened up to me. In 2005, after being told by a gentleman, John, from the U. K. that he was "...mistrustful of American Carp fisherman because of the way you treat the fish..." I was a little wide eyed. After exchanging numerous emails we talked on the phone several times. At that point John had fished for Carp for over 50 years. He had lived in England most of his life but was now living in eastern WA. John was pleasant but really had only passing willingness to talk with me on the phone until I answered several questions to his satisfaction. He asked how long I had fished, what kind of fish I liked to target, how long I had Carp fished, why I fly fished for Carp, what I did with fish after I got them to shore, if I weighed them, if I photographed them, how I weighed them, how I photographed them, and how I released them after "capture." (his word) John made me give him my word that I would always treat Carp with the utmost respect worthy of such a great game fish. I said, "You have my word." And he said, "You have my word, for what?" I answered, "You have my word I will always treat Carp with respect."

That first phone conversation lasted 45 minutes and it was the beginning of an education for me indeed. Truly, I felt that I handled fish carefully and treated all species with respect. After our second conversation John offered to send me some of his VHS videos and DVD's on Carp fishing. Carp fishing for John and his friends is with bait. John ended up sending me 10 different titles to watch. I was overwhelmed and thought I couldn't slog through them all and thought I would lose interest after just a few. I mean come on, it was bait fishing after all. It took me awhile; not only did I watch all 10 of them, I watched them all twice. The videos featured Mattie Hayes and Max Cottis primarily and were all set in U. K. The dry, English humor made me laugh but I was truly astounded with everything I saw. As I watched the videos I wrote down the vocabulary that was new to me along with a few comments. Here is a link to my notes from watching the videos. I read those notes a few mornings ago; I hadn't looked at them in years and they made me smile. There is so much to say that it warrants other blog posts.

It is important to me to point out that the reason I knew what a Carp weighing sling was, is because of seeing them in the videos John sent me. The ones in the video were more like cradles and they were hanging from expensive scales that were hanging from tripods. It was all very, very interesting to learn. Those slings were not at all suitable for the wading, Carp fly fisherman but seeing them got me started on tracking down a suitable alternative.

This blog post is about nets and slings so I will stay focused on that. Okay, just one diversion. A couple of the guys in the videos carried, "Carp care kits." The kits had antiseptic in them. They applied the antiseptic to the spot where the hook had been removed and on any sores on the Carp. I could hardly believe it. No wonder John thought Americans were primitive and disrespectful.

When I first talked with John my Carp fishing was about half from my Zodiac and half wading. I do more wading now.

My nets:

For decades I have had a laminated wood net that I use for Trout fishing. I still use it when I fish from my float tube or kickboat. I have attached a magnetic link and stretch cord to the net so if I drop it, well, when I drop it, it doesn't sink to the bottom of the lake. This is my oldest net and I really like it. It is not suitable for any of the Carp fishing I do.

The wood handled net:

Before I started Carp fishing I had a collapsible mesh net that I used for both Pink Salmon and Trout when I was fishing from my Zodiac. It was the net I used to net my first Carp. After just a couple more Carp trips I realized that net was just not sturdy enough to handle some of the Carp I was catching. When I fish from the Zodiac I still use this net at places like Banks Lake where pretty much all of the fish are under 10 pounds. This net is great for those situations..

Light Collapsible Net:

As a result of trying to net some larger Carp and struggling with it I ordered a new Solvkroken net that was much more stout. The handle and frame were great but the bag was not satisfactory. The holes in the net were too big which caused the dorsal rays of the Carp to get tangled in the material if the fish was large. I did some research and found a guy who makes nets for aqua-culturists. He agreed to make me a soft nylon mesh bag for my net to replace the cord bag that the net came with. Since then that net has been perfect for netting Carp when I am in my boat. The bag material is great and the net has performed well with fish just over 20 pounds. The fish can still be in the net, I can attach the scale to the frame, lift the net, and have a weight in just seconds.

The Solvkroken Net:

Just a couple years ago I purchased the Measure-Net for my Trout fishing. I replaced the mesh bag with a rubber bag and am very happy with this net. I am using it in my Zodiac and I carry it with me when I fish Monkey Forks Creek. I point this out because even if I do a lot of walking on Monkey Forks it is still not nearly as much walking as I do when I am Carp fishing. Also, you cannot get in the water at Monkey Forks; you have to fish from the bank. Monkey Forks is a spring fed creek with cut banks. When I am Carp fishing I am almost always in the water. Though I have done it at times, I don't often cast from shore when I am Carp fishing. That said, there is no where to set a net when I'm in the water stalking and casting to a tailing Carp.

If a person was fishing only from the bank and the fish were not too large this could be a good Carp net for smaller Carp.

The Measure-Net:

All of the nets together to give size perspective:

The Sling:

I have tried carrying a net a couple times when I am wading and fishing for Carp. I had it fastened to my hip pack. I found this to be very cumbersome and damn annoying. Lacking a net in which to weigh fish that I have caught when I am wading, I looked hard for an alternative. As a result of watching the videos John had sent me I was aware of weighing slings and looked for a "fly fishing version". There was no such thing anywhere. Again, because of John's videos I had become aware of other "kit" that the Carp bait fisherman use. One of the things they do is "sack" a fish. I looked at various sacks and finally ordered one from a shop in the UK. I knew it would be too big for a weigh sling but I also knew I could get it altered. The cleaner we use is also a tailor. He does alternations and he got a good laugh out of what I was using the sack for.

I have weighed fish over 20 pounds in this sling. It works for me as a fly fisherman who usually covers miles of water in a session. It fits in a zip lock bag and the bag fits in my pants pocket. Mr. Diep, the tailor, sewed cords on the sling to accommodate the scale. After a fish takes a ride in the sling I rinse it out before putting it back in the ziplock bag.

Okay, I have to confess that sometimes I don't bother putting the sling back in the plastic bag, I just stuff the sling in my pants pocket. That means that my pants smell fishy but once I'm catching fish I kinda don't care if I stink like Carp. I might even like it. Yeah I do. So what.

It was 28 degrees out when my wife took this picture in our family room. These are the clothes I wear most of the time when I am Carp fishing. The weighing sling is in my pocket in this picture.

My patient wife is holding the sling.

Here is the sling on the floor. There is a size 12 running shoe to give size perspective. It's my shoe. My joints no longer tolerate running very well. I walk briskly and sort of alternate walking with some shuffling. More accurately, there is a size 12 shuffling shoe next to the sling.

I hooked and played a beautiful 15-16# Mirror into the shallows this summer. It was such a wonderful fish. I was going to photograph him in the water and then send him home. I let the line go slack while I reached in my shirt pocket to get the camera. Just like that the fly just fell out and the Carp slowly swam away. I swore. It was a time when momentarily I wished I had a net. I still think about carrying one when I'm wading but I haven't found one that I feel is worth the hassle at this point. I did see a new one (new to me) online a few weeks ago that I might consider. Time will tell.

The tape:

Sometimes I just can't be bothered weighing fish even when they are large and I have the sling with me. I just measure them and call it good. I do this with several species actually. Here is the vinyl coated tape measure that is always in the pack I wear when I'm stalking Carp. In fact sometimes I can't be bothered measuring them or even taking a picture regardless of how big the fish is. I just say thanks and release them.

Tape measure:


John and I continued our conversations over a period of a few years. He invited me to go Carp fishing with him. He was absolutely convinced that if I experienced Euro-style Carp fishing with him I would never go back to fly fishing for Carp. He said, "Why on earth would you use flies when bait is so much more effective?" I told him that I would fish with him and do what he did but he should know I would always be a fly fisherman. I was very respectful of him and his methods and anxious as heck to watch it all work. We scheduled a trip several summers ago. Three or four weeks before the trip John called to say that he had a brain tumor and was going to have to cancel the trip. He moved to California for treatment. He survived the treatment and took a new job there.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Carp Bait Fishing Vocabulary

An English gentleman who used bait to fish for Carp loaned me 10 videos in 2005. This is a copy of the notes I took while watching the videos featuring Matt Hayes and Max Cottis. They fish for Carp with bait in England. It was humorous at times but incredibly illuminating in terms of how serious these anglers are and the great effort they take to care for the fish they catch.

Swim: where you fish

An awkward swim: a difficult place to fish

Leading and plumbing: using the marker rod to figure out depths etc.

Topping up: fish rising

Shorted up: wearing shorts

Umbrella: tent

Winter skin: rain fly

Syndicate lake: pay lake, actually a membership lake

Day ticket lake: This is the pay lake

High double: over 15#

Margins: right up next to the bank

Deck: the bottom of the lake or the bank.

Kit: gear as in a “Piece of Kit”

Boilies: bait balls that come in a jillion flavors

Glugs: Flavors for the bait. (I wonder if Carp like chocolate?)

Pod: holds three rods parallel to the ground

Robust: sturdy

Marginal snags and weeds: stuff near the bank

Goalpost bank stick: I think this is two single rod holders set up next to each other.

Pop over: go to

Fishing at range: casting farther out

2 ¼ -2 ½ Test curve: rods that are 12 feet long. They cast 80-90 yards. Up to 3 ½ pound rod to get out to 130-140 yard class which is considered ultra long range.

Shock leader: heavier than the main line to absorb the hit of a carp suggested to be 18-22 feet

Rod rings: rod guides

Bivvies: tents

Brollies: umbrella or canopy, shelter from the weather

Bite alarm: an alarm is attached to each of the three rods on the pod and sends you a signal when you have a take. They fish during the night this way.

Braid blades: scissors that cut braided line

Take poundage of rod and add ½ to ¾ ounce and you get the optimum lead weight for casting.

Feature: structure or something out of the ordinary on the bottom like a gravel bar or plateau.

Max prefers four foot of drop from the tip ring to the weight

Compress the rod: load the rod

Bait runner: I think it is a reel

Drop back take: buglemouth takes and runs towards you baby

Fishing at range: means fishing at long range whereas fishing at short range means just that and margin fishing means fishing near the bank

Catapult: a very large sling shot. Hilarious to watch.

Throwing stick: Used to fling chum.

True stalking: looking for patrolling fish and lowering the hook bait in front of them.

Ambushing: prebaiting swims with hemp etc. then putting a hook bait in front of them.

Key to this is staying mobile 1 ¼# 12 foot model

Hookbaits and freebies. Hookbait is the one on the hook and freebies are the chum. They’re in the same cooler as his food. They’re more nuts than I am.

Super bit of kit: good gear

Hemp and pellets to prebait: chumming

Crystal waggler float is locked onto the line with lock shot. It appears to be split shot you can squeeze.

Unhooking mat: A padded mat to keep the fish off the ground while it is being unhooked and photographed.

Weighing sling: Check into this. I need to get something like this that I can carry easily.

Tripod: Set up to weigh fish. The scale is at the top of the tripod and the weighing sling hangs from the scale with the unhooking mat below the sling.

Specimen hunter: It’s the scale.

I strike: I set the hook

Mattie said, “If I had to catch a Carp, if my life depended on it, then boilies would be well down the list of bait.”

Uses Hinders Mega Hemp as his best prebaiting material, then uses trout pellets, then live maggots. These guys are crazy!

Red strawberry pescaviva sweet corn is a high choice for these guys.

Mattie “rates worms at the top of the tree for stalking bubbling and patrolling fish.” (Tailing and shopping fish)

Bag up: I think it means catch a lot. But then later I saw them bag fish for the night so they could take their pictures in the AM. I didn’t like that but at least they are in a soft mesh bag.

Bait band: a small rubber band

Crack off: break off a fish

More hectic sport: catching more fish

Floater cake: “a boalie on the surface” He made these in his oven. These guys are WAY into this.

A damn good shake: a damn good shake

Bang on: do well or done well as in “this floater cake is absolutely bang on.”

Knick the hook on the floater cake: barely hook it:

Absolutely spot on: damn good

Talking about particle colors etc. They said that carp can get used to a certain color and it’s good to change. I wonder if this means only in the pay lakes where the same fish see the same bait.

The margin rod went a bit quiet: the rod I’m fishing near the bank ain’t doin’ nothin’.

Distance rod: the one you cast way the heck out.

Mid rod: the one you cast between the distance rod and the margin rod.

This fish is a little chugger: nice and steady.

Blastin’ into the margins: a fish running towards you.

“Izzy Wizzy, let’s get busy, pull a few strokes on Mattie routine”: how the hell do I know what that means?! Mess with Mattie’s gear, talk some smack to Mattie, catch more fish than him, who knows…

The temptation to bully them too hard: puttin’ too much wood to them

A little bit dodgy: a bit difficult

A good stamp of fish: I guess above average size.

Dead easy to do: damn simple

A little bit of jiggery poker: Hmmm… does this mean shenanigans?

Boilie punch: cores a boilie to insert foam so the thing sinks slowly or maybe not even all the way. Yes, he just showed pop-up boilies—maybe they float. These guys are maniacs. I’m thinking they make fly fisherman look tame.

Check out snake skin and snake bite as leader material. He uses it as “hook link” Well, now he’s talking about “Caspar (as in the friendly ghost?) Soft Link”. Good grief, it’s flouracarbon.

Hook link: tippet

The Carp just comes along and hoovers up the whole damn lot: Eats everything.

Boyer Leisure owns Harefield Haulin’ A season permit lake established in 1810. (Darn near 200 years, wow…)

Plummin’: determining water depth for ground baiting.

Net handles detach from bag. They roll up the sides of the net to move the fish to the unhooking mat.

Capture: catch a fish

Session: a day of fishing. Or a night.

They walk in the mud barefoot in the lake. Ain’t happenin’ for this cowboy.

Some of the fish have been in the lake since the late 70’s and early 80’s. How old do they get?!

They say that the fish move down with the wind.

Barrow: a gear cart

Bait boat: sounds like a remote controlled boat to drop off chum.

A lump: A phattie

Specimen: I think this means a big fish too.

Untidy anglers: said with disgust he means shitheads who litter

Carp care kit: Holey Crimeny, they have antiseptics in this little bag to put on the Carp where it was hooked or if it has any sores on its body. That does it; these guys are crazier and more in to this than any trout fly fisherman. No wonder John thinks Americans have no respect for Carp. I had no idea…

Blanket: mucky, whispy looking algae, weeds,

Underwater they put their hands on a Common. Very fascinating.

Friday, November 4, 2011

When One Fish Makes a Perfect Day

With each step, crunching mud confirmed why my ears hurt so quickly. The cold meant I would have the creek to myself most of the day.

I always hope to catch a lot of fish when I go fishing. Doesn't everyone? I think I do; I'm actually not even sure anymore.

Seeing no rises I put on a Mayfly Emerger. Yes, I did. Because I wanted to. Not because there was any good reason. I like seeing the takes.

The creek was down and there was no wind; I could see fish holding. I could see them ignore my fly with studied indifference as it floated over them. Who knows, maybe it was disdain or contempt, either way they weren't about to take my small dry.

After five hours of floating that Mayfly over fish I finally changed to a Scud.

Thirty minutes later a Trout took my Scud; he just rapped it. What a great surprise. I had cast most of the line so saying he took me into the backing isn't as impressive as it is when the take is close in. He headed straight across the creek. I reeled him in near to me and he took off upstream. Getting into the backing the second time was much more impressive since he had to go through all of the line. Dang that was nice. Since there was virtually no wind I could hear the fish splash and the reel peel out line. Dang that was nice too. There was no one else on the creek so the splashes and the reel seemed louder.

It was in so many ways it was a perfect day. At the end of the day I could say, "I caught a fish! YES!" I felt so good about that. I realized I didn't need to say, "Well I only caught one fish today but there have been days when I caught this many or that many, or ones that were this big or that big or whatever." I didn't feel good in some sort of conceptual or philosophical way. I wasn't forcing myself to be satisfied with less than hoped for results. Even though I was fishing water that is often heavily fished I was there alone. It was all very solitary. That added tremendously to my enjoyment. I caught a fish and I felt very good. Period.

The fish was strong and healthy. After taking me into the backing twice and posing for a short video he swam away.

There was probably still two and half more hours of light. I could have kept fishing but I didn't. I felt that if I caught another fish it would actually dilute my experience. All that it took was one strong fish to take my fly, run into the backing a couple times, jump, slosh, splash and then come to the net, and I was happy. I probably shouldn't say all that it took was just one fish for me to be happy. It took one fish for me to be happy and that's a lot.