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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Scratchin' the Itch

To say, "They are not Carp", well, it's true, but so what.  Really, so what.  Carp are my favorite fish; oh dear God, yes they are.  I still like fishing for other fish too.

I was itchin' to get out and fish. I was itchin' to catch some fish too.  Wow; I got to do both.

Some large trout were kind enough to take my fly today.  When they take a dry fly it is even more kind of them.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Change of Perspective, or, Carp Lips

Are you thinking about trying Carp fishing?  Have you just started?  Do you think a Carp's mouth looks funny compared to a Bass or Trout?  Can't quite bring yourself to try it?  Sometimes it helps to just look at something a little differently.

Now see, isn't that a lot better?  Doesn't this picture just make you want to turn off your computer and go Carp fishing right now?  A little change of perspective can make such a difference.  

PS  Mr. P.'s Blog has a Facebook page now.  Click the "Find us on Facebook" button.  (As if you weren't already getting enough nonsense just reading my blog.)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fall Steelheading

Two shirts under the flannel shirt and two fleece jackets over the flannel; that's because it was 28 degrees out when we stepped out of the truck.  Add some wind and the Simms fleece hat was no longer just a fashion statement; it helped keep me warm too.   It's Steelheading weather. That's probably not exactly true; it was too nice to be "real" Steelheading weather.  There could have been snow, ice, and hard wind.  We were fortunate; snow was not forecast for a few more days.  Clear sky and striking fall colors made for a beautiful setting.

There was a point in time when wading across a challenging or even dangerous section of river would give me kind of a rush.  Those days are long gone.  Now, wading in dangerous water just scares me.  I still love being in the water;  I love the feel of my feet and ankles solidly clamped into my boots, the feel of the cobbles beneath my cleats, and the feel of the river (lightly) pushing on my legs.

The summer is my favorite time to fish but the fall is just plain my favorite time of year.  In the fall the sparrows, wrens, and juncos flit around with an increasing sense of urgency as if they have heard the weather forecast and  know that snow will drop in just a few days. Long, dark, cold, wet days are coming; the trees shout it out with their last gasps of color. The sweet, fermenting smell of leaves beginning to decay is the smell of fall to me.  That smell is another herald of coming winter, the season I like the least.  Still, I love the smell and I paused on the trail to the river to savor some slow and deliberate breaths.

Swinging flies works sometimes in this river.  It works best when the fish are more "grabby".  I don't care much for grabby people but I sure like grabby fish!  When the Steelhead are not grabby then the fishing gets more technical and one needs to nymph.  Dead drifting a nymph in current is challenging.  It's indicator fishing with a heavy top fly and a dropper beneath it.  All that stuff on the leader is not exactly an aid to smooth, easy casting.  Not every tailout or drift is the same.  Sometimes we had to mend the line, sometimes we had to throw an upstream curve in the line (it's different than mending), sometimes we had to stack the line, sometimes we had to high stick the rod to lift the belly of the line over slower current than the fly is moving through.  Good grief; we just wanted to catch some Steelhead!  I swear at least half the time my line bellied in the current ahead of the indicator.  The indicator has to lead the line downstream.  Once the line bellied and started to pull the indicator downstream the flies lifted up and I was not fishing.

Add to that, the wading was difficult.  The rocks in much of the river are boulders.  Both Gary and I wore PFD's while we were wading.

The Methow is small river.  Most years the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife opens it up to Steelhead fishing for about 6 weeks in the fall.  The determination is made on a yearly basis and is dependent on the number of returning fish.  It has some unusual regulations in that you cannot remove a native fish from the water and you must remove and kill a hatchery fish.  The hatchery fish have clipped adipose fins.  These anadromous fish enter the river in the fall but don't spawn until the spring.  The WDFW allows this fishery because they are in a manner of speaking using the fisherman to help reduce the number of hatchery fish that spawn.  A "cookie cutter" Steelhead on the Methow is 22-24 inches.  There are some that will get up over 30 inches but that is not the norm.

Gary and I each brought a typical Methow River Steelhead to the net on Wednesday.  Gary's was a hatchery fish so it had to be bonked and brought back to the truck.  Mine was a native.  I lost a toad early in the day and lost a smaller fish just before we finished up.  We fished again on Thursday and both got blanked.

 Gary fishing a great drift

 Gary with a fish on

Me with a fish on.  Like I said the Simms fleece hat was more than just a trendy fashion statement.  

 My Steelhead was an adipose present fish so his head and tail are still in the water for the picture.  

The Methow is a beautiful river.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

What Were They Thinking?

Thanks a lot to Dan, Tony, and Dave, the guys at CarpPro.Net for inviting me to be on their Pro-Staff.  I am anxious to make a contribution and honored to be a part of a such a great group!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I am 62 today. (And my bobicator won't bobicate)

A central Washington lake is where I took my favorite fishing picture.  That picture predates digital cameras.  None of my three favorite fishing pictures has a fish in it.  They portray places; places that I have grown to love.  Certainly that love is in part because of the fishing but not entirely.

As I look at my favorite fishing pictures it is interesting to me that they are all taken in the fall. The late day, diminished light of fall adds rich color and clarity to a scene without editing or enhancement.  The fall is a time of transition—shorter days, cooling air, returning wind, and leaves dressed in their brightest colors.  I love the fall.  The occasional warm fall day helps me remember and savor the heat of the summer.  Colder, shorter days bring back sweatshirts and fleece.  A cool, fall breeze causes a quick shiver that says, “Change is in the air.”

I don’t like the winter.  I only like the winter because I know spring will come.  I fear the change and yet, I love the change. 

The average American man currently has a life expectancy of 75.6 years.  If I live precisely that long I am at this moment 82% of the way through my life.  Visualizing those 75.6 years spread over a 12 month calendar, I am very much in the autumn of my life.  More precisely I would be in the last week of October.  I love the fall and I am loving the autumn of my life.  Still I know, literally and figuratively, winter is coming.  Cold days and difficult conditions are in my future.

My left hip hurts much of the time.  A day or two of wading on cobbles lights up my right knee.  Most of the balance I had as a 40 year old is still with me today.  But not all of it.   My hearing is like my balance.  The autumn of my life is now.  I miss the warm days of summer and I am not looking forward to winter.  I fear what I won’t be able to do in the winter.

And, as I said in the title, I’m 62 today and recently it would not bobicate.  At least it would not bobicate the last time I tried to get it to.  What’s a guy to do?
Last week, for the first time in several years, I fished that central Washington lake where I took my favorite picture.  About 7 years ago the lake had become overrun by small spiny rays. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has rehabilitated lakes in the past.  That means they treat the lake with rotenone and kill all the fish.  Then they plant trout again.  With reduced budgets and less staff, programs they were able to support in the past had to be abandoned.  There was no longer any budget for this lake.  I had not fished the lake in years; though I go there each year just to stand for awhile, reflect and give thanks for “warm memories” of fishing in the past. 

In 2011 the lake was treated with rotenone and stocked with some Triploid Rainbow.  For months I had been planning a fall trip to the lake.  I had such high hopes of catching 20 or more 16 to 20 inch Rainbow.  Last week I strung a rod at this lake for the first time in years.  Wonderful memories blended with high anticipation.  When I was 17 or 18 years old I would run from my car down to the water I was so excited to fish.  Even in my early 20’s I was still doing that once in awhile.  I've gotten a little old for that now.  And yet I still feel the anticipation just as I did 40 years ago. 

Gear all assembled and ready, I took a knee at the side of the lake and blessed myself with what I think of as holy water.  Out loud, I said the same four prayers I have said for decades, the same four prayers I always say when I start fishing. 

 Low water levels and high weeds made getting out on the lake in my pontoon boat a bit challenging.  Being the only one there added to my sense of how spiritual fishing can be for me.  Out in the open water my first cast settled on the surface.  The last time I was at this lake, years ago, I finished the day fishing a Chironomid under an indicator.  Like so easily and comfortably picking up a conversation with a good friend I hadn't seen in years, casting the indicator and the Chironomid just made me smile.  Like old friends, the lake and I picked up where we had left off.  It was comfortable. It was good. 

Staring at an indicator gets old for me.  I like indicator fishing when the indicator, indicates.  It has to go down for it to be fun.  Otherwise I stop liking it.  I know the lake well; I know where the shallow water is, the deep water, and all of the ledges.  My indicator sat on the water over all of the spots I used to frequent. 

When the indicator won’t indicate I start to call it names like a stupid indibobicator or useless bobicator.  That damn bobicator just sat there on the water.  My bobicator would not bobicate!  It just sat there like a well fed, sleepy cat content to do nothing.  Calling the indicator names has about as much effect as telling the cat he is lazy.  He just happily closes his eyes. 

I switched to the rod with the sinking line and tried casting and stripping nymphs near the ledges and drop-offs.  Nothing, again, nothing at all.  I didn't get a strike.  Not a single fish jumped or rose. 

Unusually long periods of hot weather in July may have killed all the Trout in the lake.  Maybe they were hiding in the deep weeds and are still getting fatter.  Who knows?...

I had to realize that this lake, while it is one of my favorites, will likely never be the same as I remember it.  The “warm days” of catching so many fish there are going to be memories for me to savor.  And I do.  I had to face the reality that like me, in a way this lake is likely in the fall or winter of its life as a good trout lake. 

Returning to my truck I was surprised that I wasn't a good deal more disappointed than I was.  I wanted the fishing to be the way it was in years past.  It wasn't.  I want my hip and my knee to be the way they were in years past.  They aren't and they never will be.  That bothers me more than the fishing. 

There was nothing for me to do except adapt and make the best of it. I returned to the Carp Lodge where I tied some flies, drank some beer, had dinner, and got a good night’s sleep. 

The morning saw me heading to different water.  I gave that indibobicator about 20 minutes to indibobicate.  It didn't bobicate so it got benched in favor of dry flies.  Ahhh…that felt a lot better.  If I’m going to get skunked I would rather get skunked fishing a dry fly than a wet fly.   

Well now, go figure, some Rainbow liked my dry flies.  Damn I love it when I see them take the fly; it is just so darn cool!  Some of them were nice and porky, just how I like them.


Eventually I will be in the December of my life; the day will come when I am less able to fish and am confined to only very easily accessible water.  The day could come when I won’t be able to fish at all.   It is after all the autumn of my life and I feel the cold winter of life nearing.  To be sure it is bittersweet. 

I am 62 today.  I am in the autumn of my life.  In the autumn of my life there is rich color and clarity not seen in earlier seasons.  I know it won’t last.  I am scared of the winter.  I love the fall, yes indeed; I love the fall. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Carp Slime Productions: "The Best Thing About Fly Fishing For Carp"

That's Carp slime dripping there, not water.  It kinda warms my heart just seeing it.

I produced Lessons From the Carp Lodge after the 2011 season.  It was meant to be instructional and helpful.  This video isn't helpful; it's just for fun.  It shows the best part of catching Carp on the fly.  It is HD.  Watch it in full screen so you can see the fish better.

I am working on a second one.  I will finish it someday; I don't know when.