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Saturday, June 23, 2012

A 20 pound Carp Fishing with Bass Guys

I traveled to central Washington with my friends, Lynn and Jeff to do some fishing.  Lynn has a bass boat.  It will just fly across the water.  Lynn and Jeff like to fish for bass.  Jeff is interested in learning to Carp fish.  Lynn--well, not so much.  The boat is not a good platform from which to stalk and cast to Carp.  It sure as heck is a good platform for traveling to new water.  My oh my, it sure does that!    

They dropped me off in some shallow water.  I don't mean they just shoved me out of the boat.  They stopped the boat and I stepped out.  Okay then. Shallow water.  Shallow water I have never fished.  I move slowly.  I see Carp.  I strip out line.  I cast.  This 20 pounder slurps the Chocolate Cherry.  Life is good.  

Thanks Lynn and Jeff.  It was a great trip.  I enjoyed the conversations more than the 20 pound Carp.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bowling Alley Pizza and Idaho Carp Fishing

Sometimes things just aren't what you are expecting.  You know, like Carp fishing.  And like bowling alleys, and pizza.

"Carp can't be caught blind casting."  (At least not with any regularity or predictability.)  I have written that and I have said it.  Many, many times.  These past nine years a few Carp have taken my fly when I did not cast to them specifically.  I have considered that a total fluke because it was.  Through the years there have been two spots where I saw too many Carp.  They were rooting around and muddying up the water.  When I cast out to them, if one of them bolted then scores of them would bolt.  It was pointless.  I knew when I cast to them I was much more likely to snag one than have one actually eat the fly.

Years ago a PUD worker in central WA suggested a lake to me.  He said, "Do you want to know the lake that has the most Carp of any place in the world?"  I thought that was quite an endorsement.  He gave me directions to the lake and I headed there the next day.  Indeed, the lake was teeming with Carp.  The bottom was soft mud and was somewhat dangerous  to wade.  I made 13 casts and "caught" a fish on every cast.  Twelve of them were snagged somewhere (mostly on the tail, pectoral fin, or dorsal fin) and one of them had my fly in his mouth.  Even the one that had the fly in his mouth was no fun to catch because I assumed the entire time I had just snagged another one.  For all I know I did snag him; I just happened to snag him inside the mouth.  I have never been back to that lake.

The Blackfoot Reservoir was for me, on many levels, quite a learning experience.    We hardly did any sight fishing like we are used to here in Washington and Oregon.  The bottom of the reservoir is very fine silt.  When there were Carp around they churned the silt up quickly.  You could see these large "mud clouds" or "mud balls" and be fairly certain there were Carp working in them.  Some of the mud balls were way too far out to cast to.

The first day I fished, John and I were with Chris and Shane and the second day we fished with Brent.  As I said in my previous post they were incredible hosts.  I got blanked that first day.  Everyone else caught fish.  Hmmm...that didn't feel real good.  It took me awhile to realize that I needed to just relax and stop looking for tailing fish.  The water was muddy virtually all of the time and the sky was cloudy some of the time.  Again, I just needed to stop looking for tailing fish.  Also, the flies that work so well for me here in Washington and Oregon would have likely worked just fine at the Blackfoot Reservoir.  That is if they were twice as large.  I don't think the fish could see my flies in the cloudy water.    To a certain extent my strategy and my flies were probably hindering me but finally I have to quote the character, Grandfather, played by Chief Dan George in the 1970 movie, Little Big Man.  He said, "Sometimes the magic works; sometimes it doesn't."  Maybe that's the best explanation for why I didn't catch fish the first day.  The magic didn't work.   I got blanked.  Period.  Deal with it.

It is true, the magic didn't work; but I needed to look at things differently.  It is kind of like looking for a place to eat dinner in Soda Springs.  There was a small restaurant on the first floor of the Enders Hotel where we stayed.  It had passable fishing fare.  John and I were both in the mood for pizza that first night.  I thought I had seen a pizza restaurant the previous night when we drove in to town.  We drove around and could not find what I thought I saw.  The pizza restaurant had been back in Pocatello where I landed.  Just as we were about to give up and go back to the hotel to eat we saw a sign on a bowling alley that said, "Pizza: dine in, take out, delivery."  That meant it wasn't the cruddiest frozen pizza available it was likely made one pizza at a time.  Well, well, well, it was made one pizza at a time and it was good.  What a nice surprise!  I would have expected bowling alley pizza in a small town to be just something to fill the space in my stomach.  Dang it; that pizza was good!

Not all bowling alley pizza is going to be good; probably most of it is going to be crummy .  Not all Carp are going to take a fly that has been blind cast in their direction; the vast majority never will.  But here's the thing; bowling alley pizza in Soda Springs is good and the Carp WILL take a blind cast fly in the Blackfoot Reservoir.  I needed to be open.  

I was the only one who caught fish the second day, so again, I think Grandfather was right.  The magic just worked for me the second day.  Maybe another way of saying that is that I was just plain lucky.

Some Blackfoot Reservoir Gold

Is this a single scale Mirror Carp or a Leather Carp?  I don't know.

Time to go back in the Reservoir and eat "big stuff".

The Blackfoot Reservoir and the surrounding countryside--simply beautiful!

John Montana and I after a day of fishing on the Blackfoot Reservoir

The forage in the Blackfoot Reservoir is quite different than in the rivers and lakes I have fished for Carp in Washington, Oregon, and Montana.  In the Blackfoot Reservoir the Carp eat "big stuff".  The "big stuff" can get away.  The Carp will chase down the "big stuff" and thump it.  Because they will chase the fly and because the mud balls give you a sense of where the fish are you can blind cast in the Blackfoot Reservoir.  In fact, it is the most effective way to fish.  You can actually feel the strikes and some of them are good and strong.  In the Columbia River Carp will move to the fly; they won't chase it down.  In the Blackfoot Reservoir they will chase it down. The pizza in the bowling alley was good.   It was all such a different experience.  I'm looking forward to blind casting in the Blackfoot Reservoir again and to having bowling alley pizza.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Thanks a Lot to the Idaho Guys!

Back from the Land of Mirrors there are a number of things to write about.  The guys from Idaho, the absolutely beautiful scenery, the Mirror Carp, the techniques, the learning curve, the flies, the wading, the weather, the takes, the pictures, the broken rod, & John Montana's driving; there is something to say about all of it.  I will do that in the days ahead.

My initial post about this trip needs to stand alone.   It is important to me to make a separate post that emphasizes how much both John and I appreciated ChrisShane and Brent.  You guys were just plain fabulous on every level!  All three of you are clearly very accomplished Carp anglers.

Chris and Shane  met us the first morning for breakfast in Soda Springs.  From there we headed to the Blackfoot Reservoir to pursue fat, happy, Mirror Carp.

Here in Washington and Oregon we only catch Carp by sight fishing.  We just don't have any success blind casting.  As far as I knew sight fishing was the only way they could be caught.  To a large extent I assume that if a Carp takes a certain fly here in WA she will take the same fly in Idaho.  Both of these things are not necessarily true.  We spent most of our time blind casting which was certainly a change in strategy for us.

Chris and Shane took us to several different spots on the reservoir.  The flies I started with were too small.  The water was cloudy and I don't believe the Carp could find my flies.  They needed to be twice as large as they were.  Chris spent time walking with me, sharing patterns and working hard to get me into fish.  He was gracious, patient, and very helpful.  You were amazing Chris.  Thanks.

Chris with a Blackfoot porker. 

That is one serious net Shane is dragging

But serious fish need a serious net.  

Brent met us the second day.  The air temperature was in the low 40's.  Combine that with hard wind and it was cold.  I was wearing a T-shirt, a solar shirt, a flannel shirt, a fleece jacket, waders, and a raincoat.  Definitely not what I am typically wearing for a day of Carping.  I was still cold with all those clothes.  Not long after we started fishing Brent fell in.  With the cold water and the cold air the risk of hypothermia was immediate; Brent's day was over.

We went back to the vehicles.  Brent had taken off his waders and much of his clothes.  I don't post this picture to make fun of him being wet and cold.  I post it to make the point that even while he is standing there shivering, before he gets in the truck and turns on the heat, he is making sure that John and I have a couple more the large flies that he uses.  Talk about going the extra mile; Brent, that was incredible.  You rock man!

There are other things to say and other pictures to post.  Home now for three days, my bruises and sprains are healing, the broken rod has been sent in for a warranty claim, and I am feeling very fortunate for the opportunity to have done this trip.  Thanks John for doing this trip with me.  Thanks so much Chris, Shane, and Brent for all of your help before and during the trip.  Again, you guys rock!  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ella the Carp and the Land of Mirrors

The Blackfoot Reservoir appeared on my radar back in 2005.  The body of water has only Mirror Carp.  Seeing pictures of large Mirror Carp made me wide eyed and I knew I would fish there one day.  In 2006, I corresponded with a Euro-style angler from California who had been there with some of his friends.  His stories and his pictures cemented my determination to travel to the Land of Mirrors.

This is Ella the Carp.  She is a Common Carp.  She lives on the wall in the Carp Lodge next to Harry the Heron.

Ella was made by a word worker who lives very near the Carp Lodge.  She has 244 separate pieces.  Each scale is an individual piece.  (Guess how much we paid for Ella.  Seriously, guess please; you won't be offended.)

I am guilty of personifying things at times.  It works for me.  Sometimes it makes perfect sense to me.

Ella is anxious for me to go the Land of Mirrors.  In anticipation of leaving for this trip she and I posed for a picture together awhile back.

Is it that all of the Carp in the Blackfoot Reservoir are Mirrors that piques my interest so much?  It is that in part, but the Carp in that water are big and that really piques my interest!

Yes, I want to catch Mirrors but I want some major phatties!  And I know Ella wants me to hook up with those hogs.  Oh, and John, Ella and  I want you to catch some big ones too.

I have tied some extra Carp Carrots, Chocolate Cherries, Salt & Peppas, and Black Betties just for you.
See you soon fat Idaho Carp...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Old Boots

Are they such old boots?  Not really.  More like well worn.  I suppose they are like me.  Am I really that old?  Not really.  More like well worn.    

It is time to replace the laces on my boots; that's for sure.  Even though the boots themselves are well worn I don't think it is time to replace them yet.  Again, like me.  

Looking at these tired, scuffed, scratched up old things brings to mind so many good memories of rivers and lakes I have waded.   Memories of days on the water...memories of walking and walking to find fish, memories of kicking rocks, memories of stepping carelessly and scaring Carp, memories of tailing Carp...memories of the take...   

In time I will have to replace the boots and as silly as it is I know already that I will feel like some of my memories will be lost with the boots.  

When it comes to getting rid of things that aren't useful anymore Katy says that I am, "Swift and sure."  Usually I am.  Still there are some things that one might say I get overly attached to.  I've gotten attached to these old boots as if they aren't part of the memories but they help hold the memories.  They do.  

On Thursday I leave to fish for Mirror Carp in the Blackfoot Reservoir with John Montana.  We are meeting Chris from manyafish and Brent from Uprising.  

Worn as they are, these old boots are ready for some new memories.  Like me.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Shorts, Sandals, and Dancing with the Clouds

It's June 1; WooHoo!  Today was the first time this year I could fish for Carp in shorts, rolled up shirt sleeves, and sandals.  (That would be from my boat.)  What a great feeling!

At 6:30 when I got up this morning the sky was totally overcast.  I gave serious thought to not fishing and just going home.  As Carp fishing challenges go, murky water is the worst, wind is more worse than murky water, and no direct sunlight is the most worst of all. It was slightly windy and there there was no visibility.  Not good, not good.  That's like the most worst and then some.

I was at the Carp Lodge, in central WA and it is a three hour drive home so I persevered and made myself go fishing.  When I arrived at the reservoir there were  the beginnings of shadows.  Those shadows invigorated me; if I could see fish I knew I had a chance of tricking them with my flies.   Just those simple, half light shadows brought out the 12 year old in me.  Oh yes!

It was warm so I could wear shorts, sandals, and rolled up shirt sleeves.  I just love that!

As I launched the boat at 10:15  the clouds filled much of the sky.  Trying to will them away from the sun was largely fruitless.  I felt fortunate that for no apparent reason the masses of clouds steered clear of the sun for a good amount of the late morning and early afternoon.  There were times when I just sat down and waited for the sun to reappear.  It would and I was grateful.

By 2:30 I felt like the sun and  I were constantly dancing with the clouds.  The sun would peak out around the edge of some clouds and I would scan for Carp.  A cloud would move slightly and the lights would come on for awhile.  The cloud would move slightly again and the lights would go out.

I managed to get some hookups and felt very good about that.

They love the Carp Carrot.

This one was just over 13 pounds

They love the Chocolate Cherry too.

By 3:30 the clouds were no longer dancing with me and the sun.  They were blocking it and more dark clouds were moving in.  For about 30 minutes I pretended I could see fish without the sunlight but it was futile.
It was still 87 degrees when I got back to the Carp Lodge.  Today I had to dance with clouds but it was warm, I wore shorts and sandals, I released 7 Carp, and I feel pretty dang fortunate.