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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Walk--Off Double

It's 4:00; instead of being direct, the sunlight is starting to bounce off the water.  My boots are much heavier than when they were first laced up; my legs are tired.  It doesn't matter what time it is; my hip hurts.  The wind is blowing so hard the day is over before it starts.  My bad casting is stinking up the river for miles in every direction.  It is time to stop fishing because I said I would be home at a certain hour.  I'm not catching many fish and I have just had enough.  I have caught so many fish I don't feel like fishing any longer.

A day of Carp fishing can end so many ways.  Sometimes, not most of the time to be sure, but sometimes as the end of a session nears, I can say to myself, "I'll catch one more fish and then I will quit."  Choosing to call it a day at that moment when I release a fish brings very satisfying closure to the trip.   With 20 minutes left to fish I wish I could always say, "I'll just catch one more", and know I could do it before the 20 minutes passed.  Heck, some days there could be two hours of fishing time remaining and I am not sure if I can catch, "just one more."

I always want to catch, "just one more", even when it is past the time I said I would leave.  Is it that I have no restraint or self-discipline?  Is it that I am just a 12 year old at heart?  (At least when I'm fishing) Is it that catching Carp is just so dang fun I just don't want to stop?  Am I persistent or stubborn?  Probably all of the above.

On this day I had caught quite a good number of fish.  I had one large Mirror on that had broken off in the weeds.  Dang weeds, dang Carp, dang weeds.  I was planning to move towards the truck by 4:00.  At 3:20 exactly I finally got this Mirror to the net.

If all I ever caught were Mirrors I would think Common Carp were cool because they would be different than what I was used to.  Here in the Pacific Northwet (Yes, that's Northwet; it wains a lot here.)  we primarily catch Commons so a Mirror is a novelty.   Some of them look prehistoric to me.  Some of the scales look like they are sort of hinged.  This Mirror that I caught at 3:20 was a partially scaled one; it just made me smile.   He was not the biggest fish of the day but I still trout fish in the "off season" so I'm not losing perspective; it was a great fish.  For me the "off season" has become any time of year when I'm not Carp fishing.

I really wanted to end the day with a fish.  To end the day with the only Mirror of the trip that made it to the net would have been perfect.  Release the fish, reel in the line, savor the day, give thanks, and head in.  Perfect.

Oh what a greedy boy you can be Mr. P.!  What a greedy boy!  I saw another fish tailing.  My driver's license says I was born in October of 1950.  That means I have been 12 years old for 49 years.  It appears I will never have to pretend I'm always 29 or 49 or whatever because I'm still stuck at 12.  With the the turn of each December's calendar page I have less and less hope of maturing past 12.  I guess all I can do is to try and make the best of it.

I really wanted to end the day with a fish and make the choice to finish at that moment.  "I'll just catch one more and end the day with THAT fish," is how I so easily talked myself into casting again.  What a greedy boy!  That tailing fish spurned my fly on the first cast.  I told myself, "That's what you get for being greedy."  Well I just had to keep fishing if I wanted to release a fish and leave the water.

It was after 4:00, the wind had picked up again and it was getting harder to spot fish.  As an aside, when I prioritize Carp fishing problems dirty water is the worst, wind is even more worse, and no direct sunlight is the most worst.

Its hard to know some times when to persist and when to be done for today.  I kept fishing a little longer.  Go figure, the Carp gods let me know when it was time to quit.  I came on another tailing fish at about 4:15. I cast the Chocolate Cherry past him and stripped it on his dinner plate.  Bam!  Just like that he picked it up and took off.  What a thoughtful Carp.  A very nice surprise was that he was a fully scaled Mirror!   That made two Mirrors for the trip and they were the last two fish of the day.

That fish slid back in the water and I reeled in.  Did my persistence pay off?  Was I lucky?  Probably both.  (Mostly lucky)  Two Mirrors in a row at the end of the day.  It was like a walk-off double.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Carp and Grace

Some days of fishing are just better than others; I wish I knew why.  For Carp fishing the wind can be howling, the sky can be cloudy, the water can be high and muddy.  That makes it pretty easy to understand why fishing is difficult.  If I only catch a couple fish I can blame it on the wind or the clouds or any number of culprits.  When conditions are ideal, or as close to ideal as they can get here in the Pacific Northwest, fishing can still be crummy.  Now that's one of things I just don't get.  I just don't know why Carp won't readily take my fly on those "ideal conditions" days.  Why is fishing good one day and then not so good the next day?  It appears to be one of the many mysteries of the universe that are just beyond me my limited capacity for discernment.

Here is another thing I just don't understand.  How come the fishing is pretty good one day and then the next day it is incredible.  While that is of course wonderful I just don't get it.  I like to think it is somehow connected to my amazing prowess, my laser casting, my stealthy stalking, my scrumptious flies, and the positive energy I send out to the fish.  Alas, I know it ain't true.  Some days I'm just lucky and just like the days when I can't figure out why I'm NOT catching Carp there are days when I can't figure out why I AM catching them.  At least I can't figure out why I'm catching as many as I am.

Last Thursday was such a day.  I had no idea why I was catching as many Carp as I was.  I had three to the net in the first 45 minutes.  I do acknowledge that as my success increases during the day my confidence in my ability to cast goes up.  The more confident I am feeling the more likely I am to deliver my casts well.  I do understand that the confidence makes a difference.

When I was younger and better looking I used to play a lot of racquetball.    I played in some tournaments.  The best I ever did was come in 2nd in my age division in the State championships.  I loved the game.  I haven't played in over 10 years. Confidence on any given day and on any given shot made a huge difference.  I don't think it is as true with fly fishing though I know it makes a difference on casting accuracy and the smoothness of delivery.  Still, I don't believe it is enough to make the difference I seem to randomly experience some days.  There are days when I'm catching a lot of fish and I just don't seem to have the slightest idea why.  Okay, I have some idea but not enough of an idea to make it happen consistently.  And that is yet another mystery beyond my ken.

How would I describe the day?  Wonderful.  Stellar.  Amazing.  I started fishing at 9:40.  Within minutes I had a fish in the net.  I continued to catch fish if I was fishing and not resting.

How would I describe the day?   "Jading"--meaning I got jaded during part of the day.  I lost count of the fish.  I lost interest in counting.  I lost interest in playing some of them; I just wanted them to come in and be done with it.  (I recovered from being jaded and savored the day and the moments that made up the day.)

How would I describe the day?  Tiring.  I cast right and reel right.  (Old school you know...)  My left arm got sore and tired enough that I had to just sit down and take breaks.  I had planned to fish until 4:00.   At 2:00 I was resting my left arm and caught myself wondering how much longer I "had" to fish.  I had caught enough fish to more than satisfy me but I knew I could still catch more.  I "made" myself stand up and keep fishing.  While fishing from the boat there is a lot of upper body twisting and turning that I have to do without moving my feet so as not to spook Mr. Buglemouth.  Its like doing isometric exercises.  By the end of the day my legs were shaking some.

How would I describe the day?  "Giving of grace".  In Catholic elementary school I remember learning  that grace is a supernatural gift of God, freely given by God, and undeserved by me.  Undeserved by me...Hmmm...Yup...I get that...  There are plenty of days when I experience a plethora of gifts that I believe are undeserved by me.  I am serious.  I would say then that my life is full of grace.

The numbers of fish, the size of the fish; yes those things were very satisfying, very satisfying indeed.  I am grateful for my health and ability to still fish at age 61.  I am grateful to be able travel safely.  I am grateful to my dad for taking me fishing when I was little.  

I have no idea why I caught so many Carp last Thursday; grace is the only explanation there could be.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Getting Lucky and 69ing

While pulling in the driveway of the Carp Lodge last Wednesday, the odometer on my Carpwagon turned 69,000 miles.  It had meaning; at least I thought it did.  But what was the meaning?  Or was there any meaning at all?  

Eyes closed...mind wandering... Slowly, fluidly, pleasantly, remembering younger days...  

I have this memory, albeit somewhat vague, of something to do with 69, or 69ish or 69ing or something.  Is it something about good fortune?  I don't know for sure. Whatever it is, it is a good memory, a stimulating one, an arousing one, a memory that makes me smile.  I feel pretty sure of that.  

Still pondering...  Whatever it is I seem to remember it has a something to do with position.  Yes, that's it, 69 is about position, optimally positioning oneself for climactic success.  But what is it?  Or what was it?  

Oh, oh, is this your first time reading my blog?  Or are you new to fly fishing for Carp?  Are you thinking this is all kind of kinky?  Just relax.  Take it slowly.  Lay back and be at ease.  It's only kinky the first time or two; you will get so you enjoy it.  (Reading my blog and fishing for Carp)  

Eyes opened, staring at the odometer, it came to me.  That's it.  69,000 miles meant I was going to get lucky!  Yes!  I  just knew it meant I was going to get lucky!  Just thinking about getting lucky got me excited.  

That meant I should unload the groceries and get right back on the road and head for the water.  Good thing my Zodiac was in the back of the truck.  As I said, success is about positioning and I had positioned myself well.  All my gear was loaded and ready and I knew I would still get some fishing in during the afternoon.  It was already 10:45 and after unpacking I still had just over an hour to drive to get to the lake.  Add time for inflating the boat and getting it set up and I was still two hours from fishing.

The rod delivered the first cast at 12:40; that's kind of late in the day to start fishing but I take the opportunities I have and am grateful for them.  I think going Carp fishing when the odometer turns 69,000 miles is called 69ing.  Yeah, it is.

Some fish were still in the spawning mode; ignoring those fish I moved on in search of better targets.  I started with the Crayfish pattern sent to me by Chris at Missouriflies.com.  It think it a great looking fly and I'm confident I can catch Carp on it.  Its windy here in central WA.  Sometimes its a little windy and sometimes its a lot windy.   When it is windy, as soon as the fly hits the water, particularly on a crosswind cast, the line starts to bow and tug on the fly.  I can't always position myself to be casting downwind to a tailing Carp that is at a 90 degree angle to me.  I take the targets I get.  Some of those targets are crosswind and and some are upwind.  The fly was not getting down to the fish so after almost an hour I switched to a more heavily weighted pattern.  Chris, I'm sure  I will catch fish on your pattern on a day later in the summer when there is less wind.  I will keep you posted.

Using a Carp Carrot tied with dumbbells eyes I was able to put some fish in the net.

In this next picture I am sitting in the Zodiac.  The fish is cradled in my left hand while my arm rests on the tube of the boat.  That is the oar you see under my hand.  I weighed this fish in the net but I forget how much it was.  Thirteen pounds I think.

A couple others who liked the Carp Carrot.

This fish just thumped the Carrot.  He tried to swallow the darn thing; I had to use the hemostats to take out the fly.

Thankfully some Carp were cooperative.   It turns out my memory was good; 69 was a sign I was going to get lucky.  And I did.  I left the lake planning to fish two more days.  It left me wondering, "Can a guy get lucky three days in a row?"

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Blistered Some Carp. And Me Too

My blogging got out of order last week.  I was anxious to tell about catching Highway Cone and I skipped one of the days before that.  During the time I was in central WA last week I covered a HECK of a lot of water.  Last year I committed to exploring a good deal of new Carp water and this year I am picking up right where I left off.   There are a lot things that are so frustrating about exploring new water.  My legs get tired.  My left hip hurts.  My right knee hurts.  I get lost.  (Not totally lost like I won't find my way home for a few days and like I have to stop and ask someone what my name is but lost enough that I lose an hour or two getting where I want to go.)  Another particularly frustrating thing about exploring new water is that sometimes I don't see a single darn Carp!  How can that happen to such a nice guy?  I just don't know.

Also, I guess I would say that I walked and waded WAY too much last week.

Its not like I have a hard life because I got such a big blister on my toe its just that I'm going to Idaho to chase fat Mirror Carp in two weeks and I'm worried I will have trouble wading.  I may have to ride piggy back on John Montana and cast while he carries me around.  Don't worry John; I'm not heavy--just 182 pounds.  I can keep my backcasts up so I won't snag you.  (I hope.)

While I was driving and walking all over everywhere looking for new Carp spots I did manage to catch some great fish.  I had one on that was over 20 pounds  I played him for awhile until he was about three rod lengths away.  He had been into the backing and was just about ready to come in and take a ride in my sling.  Then he got into some weeds.   Grrrrrr...  The line stayed tight but I knew I was kidding myself.  It was tight because after he got off the hook snagged in the weeds.  

Its like the darn blister.  How can that happen to such a nice guy?  

I did manage to get several fish over 15 pounds and felt pretty dang good about that.  Think of these next two pictures as sort of a composite.  Its the back and the front of the same fish.  Between the two pictures you get the idea.  I didn't want to keep trying to frame the picture correctly; I just wanted to put the fish back in the water.  

To get the picture right you have to be smarter than the camera.  Apparently I'm not.  To keep from hurting myself I need to be smarter than my feet.  Again, apparently I'm not.  

I was smart enough to blister some nice Carp though.  Apparently you don't have to very smart to do that.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Highway Cone

Some time back John Montana wrote about pursuing and catching Highway Cone in a small pond.  I can't imagine how the fish might have escaped into open water but as it turns out there appears to be more than one Highway Cone.  

Totally by chance, while Carp fishing, I saw her in the margins.  And oh, she was a beauty!  Her nose was down and her tail was sticking out of the water.  In classic Carp fashion there was Highway Cone tailing in the shallows.  Her tail was so far out of the water I could see her from a long way down the shore.  I knew I would never get this opportunity again.  My first cast would likely be my only shot; it had to be perfect.  Several minutes passed as I carefully got into position to deliver my carefully placed cast.  Ever so cautiously, with small quiet steps, I got as close I dare without getting any closer than I had to.  In range, I slowly stripped some line off the reel and then began false casting off target so as not to spook Highway Cone.  The fly landed perfectly.  It was only a matter of a few seconds and I was able to set the hook.  Incredible!  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Does That Sling Make Her Look Fat?

Having read my post Nets, Slings and a Tape, two fly rod Carpers emailed me to ask about how I weigh fish.  They wanted to know about my scale and my sling.  I'm always happy to oblige on questions like that.  Anxious to be helpful, this past week I got some "action" shots of the scale and sling.

The sling is nylon mesh so it doesn't absorb much water.   If it is wet and has dripped for a count of five it weighs 14-15 ounces.  I call it a pound so that is how much I deduct from the shown weight when a Carp takes a ride in my sling.

Editorializing here a bit, I don't think anyone can accurately estimate the weight of fish unless they have actually weighed a good number of fish.  Even then it is still an estimate.  Since many Carp fly anglers don't seem to carry a scale and something to safely suspend the fish in I think that the majority of Carp do not get weighed.  Consequently, a fair number of weight estimates are likely to be off.  Really the only solution to knowing accurately how much a fish weighs is to get a scale and something to cradle the fish in.  A net works for safely holding the fish but I only use a net when I am in my boat.  I don't like carrying one when I wade.  The sling works well for me.   The Carp in the sling weighs 8 pounds.  The sling really doesn't really make her look fat.

This next girl is twice as big as the previous one.  Does the sling make her look fat?  Yes, because she is!  Deducting a pound for the sling she is over 16 pounds.  Dang, she looks good in the sling!

Oh yeah, Highway Cone, that's still coming.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fibonacci Carp

I came over to central WA to make my presentations at the Washington FFF fair.  My last post was about fishing for a while on Saturday afternoon after the presentation.  Staying at the Carp Lodge makes fishing for Carp easier.  We have the Internet here, we have a small printer, I bring a Netbook, and my cell phone works here.  That basically counts as a "home office" at the Carp Lodge.  Never mind that the "office" is on the table; hey, it works.  In fact I wrote up a Purchase & Sale Agreement from the Carp Lodge on Friday evening.

Because I have a "home office" here I can work in the mornings and the evenings and fish during the day.  That doesn't always work but it works some of the time.  I do have to meet with clients some days.  It's Tuesday and I'm still here at the Carp Lodge.  I worked Sunday morning, fished some of the day, and then worked in the evening.  I fished some on Monday and again today (Tuesday).  My 61 year old legs are darn tired so I don't know if I can fish again tomorrow.

I was going to try and make a blog post each evening but just had too much work to do so I didn't do it.  Maybe I will get caught up.  Maybe I won't.

I went to some new water today that I had scouted at the end of the day on a late season trip last year.  The water actually looked very promising.  It looked like a nice wide open flat that would be easy to wade.  Well it was a nice wide open flat that was easy to wade.  It sure looked Carpy.  I never saw a single fish.  That would mean I didn't catch any either.  No spawners, no cruisers, no sunbathers, no nothing.  How does that happen?  I'm such a nice guy.

I left the new (damn) water after lunch and headed back near the Carp Lodge to familiar water that is well known to many.  I have caught some very nice Carp here.  Hmmm...  Not today.  Just like the new water there were no spawners, no cruisers, no sunbathers, no nothing.  How does that happen?  That's the kind of thing that makes me wonder if I really like Carp fishing as much as I think I do.  I'm such a nice guy.  How does that happen?

My Carpwagon took me way down the river for a last shot at a  couple hours of fishing.  Okay then, I saw some fish.  Within just a few minutes I got this 6 pounder.  It was such a relief.

A little while late I got this 10 pounder.

For years,  I have wanted to hit the "Carp Fibonacci".  I wanted to it without the first two fish weighing the same amount.  Today I did it; the third fish weighed 16 pounds.  And here she is.  Ain't she pretty?  And fat too!

Okay, okay, I know what a Fibonacci sequence is and I know I didn't start at one.  But come on, I've never seen a 1 pound Carp so how the heck could I possibly catch two in a row.

Its not math, or shells, or vegetables; come on, its fishing.  Thank you for allowing me literary license in designating these three fish my Fibonacci Carp sequence.  If I had got the fourth fish in the sequence I think I would have just sat down in the shallows and splashed around like a two year old in a bathtub.  And I would have pretty damn pleased with myself too.  (I would probably still be splashing.)

The next fish was 8 1/2 pounds, a very typical Columbia River fish.  That's not exactly a 26 but its a whole heck of a lot better than the "nothing fish" I was getting all morning and afternoon.

Catching a couple more helped me to feel profoundly grateful for all of my many blessings.

The last fish of the day.

Shadows were getting long and it was time to head back to the Carp Lodge for two beers and four enchiladas.  (And a few cookies)

PS  Since John Montana caught the very famous highway cone I have been searching for the little  pond he caught it in.  Well yesterday I caught highway cone!  I'm feeling pretty dang good about that.  The picture and the report will be posted in the days to come.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Gettin' back to it

I did my presentations at the Washington Federation of Fly Fishers Fair in Ellensburg on Friday and Saturday.   After finishing up on Saturday I stayed to visit with several guys.  Later, getting back in my Carpwagon I found a nice surprise.  Go figure, lo and behold there was some fishing tackle there.  Well it was later in the day than when I usually begin fishing but I hadn't Carp fished yet this year and I had reached a point where I didn't care if the wind was howling, the sky was cloudy, and the water was muddy; I was going anyway.  Well, actually I do care, but not enough to keep me from going.  I got to the lake with really just a couple hours of time left to fish.  Below are the first three casts I made for Carp this year. It is such a simple thing, making the first few casts.  It was like coming home after being away for a long time.  It just felt so darn good!  I wish I could say I got a Carp on the first cast.  I didn't.

I did get a couple and they both reminded me why I just love Carp fishing.  I saw both takes and it is still magic.  They took the Chocolate Cherry.  Here is one after I had played him awhile.