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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.  


  1. Mr.P,

    Ha, good metaphor! I remember the quote as well. Someday I hope to find fishing like that closer, with mirrors, real ones this time.


    1. I hope you find that Mirror Gregg; if anyone deserves it you do.

  2. Great report Mr. P. I think you nailed it - often the "magic" is all about looking at things from a different perspective.

    1. Thanks Ty. For me sometimes the "magic" really is just persistence and luck. But yes, sometimes it really is looking at things from a different perspective.

  3. Ha !! Quoting Chief Dan George from Little Big Man ..
    you get it, Jim ... you get it.

    1. Thanks JM. When I read your comment, "My heart soared like a hawk."