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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Catfish on the Fly

Many years ago when I made my first cast to a tailing carp how was I to know what doors that would open in the future?

Nearing the end of a good day of carp fishing I was slowly wading back in the direction of my Carpwagon but still keeping an eye out for another shot.  The silhouette of a fish came into view; I thought it was a funny looking carp but he was big so I was immediately in the hunter's mode.  As I eased closer to the fish I thought damn, that carp has a big head.  A bit closer and I realized that carp was a catfish.  Well, I've never caught a catfish; I had no idea if one would take a fly or not.  I just acted like he was a carp and put the Chocolate Cherry in front of him.  Go figure; I made one cast to that ugly handsome sucker and he took the fly.  What a surprise!  I'm one for one; I'm battin' 1000 on catfish.

This first picture shows the fly in the right side of his mouth.

He is sloshing in this picture.

He just finished sloshing and has the leader under the other whisker.  This picture gives some perspective to his length.

Handsome? Beautiful? Ugly? Exotic?  What do you think?  

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Wanna be a Baller--Shot Caller...

I wanna be a baller, a shot caller...you know, a carp fishin' baller...

It is such great fun to catch carp that are over 15 pounds!  Posting pictures of those carp is easy; it makes me feel like a bad-ass; a baller.  Well, as much of a bad-ass or a baller as a 64 year old guy can be anyway.  Here is the thing about posting pictures of big carp--it gives the impression that all, or at least most, of the carp I catch are that size.  It just ain't so.  On a recent trip to the Columbia River the smallest fish I caught was 14 1/2 pounds; that was because I didn't cast to fish that appeared to be smaller than 15 pounds.  (Except for one)

Something that is much too easily taken for granted is that I have to be seeing 15-20 pound fish to catch 15-20 pound fish.  The Columbia is the only water I fish where I have that opportunity regularly.  I fish other water for carp, and on some of that water I don't expect to get a single shot at a 15 pound fish let alone a 20.  On one particular body of  water I have caught fish to 17 pounds but haven't done that for a few years; it's pretty rare.  I adjust my expectations knowing that there is a good chance I won't get a fish over 10 pounds.  By comparison to the carp in the Columbia these fish are small; I know that and I still return several times each season.

I use the same flies but lighter leader.  These 5-8 pound fish  make me smile; they are immensely satisfying.  They are unforgiving when I make a bad cast just like a fish two or three times their size.  I have asked them out loud, "Come on, how can you be so picky?"  It takes every bit as much skill to catch these fish as it does to catch their larger brothers and sisters.

Five to eight pound fish like Black Betty just like their big, fat brothers and sisters do over on the Columbia River.  

I'm acknowledging how much I enjoy the days when I catch these fish; alas I think it may confirm I'm not such a baller after all.   

Sunday, May 17, 2015

What a Slut!

It was familiar water for me on this day; I had been there many times.  The sky was hazy, not cloudy; it made for acceptable visibility.  Seeing only a couple fish the first 30-40 minutes got me wondering about my prospects for the day.  Both fish were over 15 pounds so that was encouraging.  The first fish that took my fly was just over 18 pounds; that was simply wonderful!  She reminded me of everything that I love about carp fishing--stalking fish that are big, smart, and wary.  Add to that, detecting the take visually and you have the ideal sportfish.

Because I was not seeing that many fish but also because I was seeing a high incidence of fish over 15 pounds I just randomly decided to see if I could keep myself from casting to anything less than a fish that appeared to be 15 pounds or better.  There have been days, just a few really, when I have caught so many large fish that I just can't be bothered fishing for the 8-9 pounders.  Please know that is nowhere near normal.  This day it wasn't that I was catching so many fish; it was just that I wanted to see if I could keep myself from casting to 8-9 pound fish even if I wasn't seeing large fish.  I wondered how long I would go without getting at least a shot at a large fish before I decided that this wasn't really a fun game after all.  I wanted to test my discipline.

Temptation called me several times, I was "strong", I resisted the 8 pound fish.  It wasn't totally easy because 8-9 pounders were most of what I was seeing.  Enough large fish were taking my fly that I "held up".

Six hours of wading is typically enough for me particularly when I am on the move the whole time and that includes getting back to my truck.  On the way back to my truck I had the fly in the hookkeeper since I don't typically see many fish on the return.  

Near the truck a fish was moving across the shallows.  She appeared to be about 8 pounds; she was clearly a linear mirror.  Instantly focused, I took the fly off the hookkeeper, peeled out line, and laid out a good cast in front of that beauty.  She approached, turned to her right when she saw the fly and then just calmly swam away.  Spontaneously, I said out loud, "What a slut!"  

Nearly 6 hours of fishing without casting to a single 8-9 pounder and as soon as I saw a mirror I caved in.  What can I say?  I love all carp but since mirrors are unusual here they are more appealing to me.  Being unusual makes them kind of exotic.  I particularly like the fully scaled ones and the linear ones.  That Jezebel mirror carp made me give in to temptation; yes, at that moment I was reduced to being nothing more than a "mirror carp slut" without a thing to show for it.  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

My River Was Calling Out to Me

Katy and I walked yesterday near ponds and channels in central Washington.  We were enjoying the nice day and looking for birds. In the process of looking for birds we heard splashing in shallow water; it is such a familiar sound to me.  A carp was clearly feeding, others were looking for love.  It's April for criminy sake; what are carp doing spawning already!?  

Unseasonably warm weather has gotten me out carp fishing sooner than I ever have in 12 seasons. On Sunday of this week a mirror became my first stillwater carp of the year.  Any mirror makes my face smile.  This one was fully scaled with unusually bright yellow on his belly.   I got to see him turn to the Chocolate Cherry; what a nice way to start the year.  Other carp were kind enough to take the fly that day also.  

Consecutive warm days in the spring are to carp fishing what a freshet is to coastal salmon or steelhead fishing.  A freshet brings staging, migratory fish into their natal streams; warm, spring days bring carp into the shallow water.  

Two warm days after the stillwater trip the call from my river was gaining volume.  During the winter it whispers to me; it reminds me of fish from seasons past and tempts me with visions of captures to come.  It calls me when I'm sleeping, it calls me when I'm driving, it calls me when I'm working.  To the point of distraction it had been calling me for weeks; a little more loudly and a little more insistently each day.  Tuesday was the day I answered my river's call.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Lessons From the Carp Lodge: Episode #6--Adapting to Different Conditions--Dropping the Fly

Most of the carp I catch are 25-40 feet away.  There are times when murky water, cloudy skies, and hard wind conspire to keep from seeing carp until I am very close to them.  There are also times when carp feed on emerging damsels just under weed patches.  All of these conditions require that I adapt my techniques and get very close to carp to present the fly to them.  Watch this video in HD and on the full screen so you can see the fish.  Enjoy.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

"After the Hookset"--a video

I had hoped to produce at least 3 videos this winter--possibly 4.  Hmmm... I have worked on them but alas, here is the first one I have actually finished.  It is not meant to be instructional; it is just meant for fun.  There are 8 takes and hooksets in this video.  What I am focusing on is those seconds right after the hookset.  Watch it on the full screen and in HD so you can see the fish more easily.

The last fish that jumps and summersaults is one of my favorite videos I have captured these past several seasons.  He actually picks up the fly before I realize it; you can see the line move.


PS  I do have a fair amount of my video "Dropping the Fly" finished.  Lets see if I can get it finished before carp season starts.  If I don't I'm a total goner; I likely won't get it done until next winter.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Videos Coming Soon

This past summer I had some tremendous days of carp fishing.  (Some not so tremendous ones too...)  A number of carp were even kind enough to let me get them on video.  A couple carp came all the way out of the water on the hook set and they let me record them in the act.  Dang that was cool!

I broke two rods this summer; lets see here, ammmm...that would be two rods in two days actually with both of them being just as I was netting the fish.  One of those snapping rods can be seen on video.  Heck if the camera is on it records that good and the bad.

Believe it or not I have some very good, long casts on video from the last two summers; the fish are clearly visible, heck a few of them were even nice enough to take the fly.  God bless those nice ones.

The "Good Luck Duck" appears (audibly) in one of my videos and while he has scared fish in the past I like to think he helped me catch the fish I was casting to.  He did.

When I see two tailing or shopping/prowling fish facing each other and in sight of each other I think it makes them more aggressive about taking my fly.  Well I got that on video this past summer too; one of them smacked the fly.

I got some good video of fish taking the fly on the drop.  One of them was hiding under a small weed patch that was floating on the surface.  His head wasn't visible but his tail was sticking out behind the patch.  I dropped the fly in front of the weeds and just as pretty as you please he came out and ate the fly.

I had hoped to produce at least three videos this winter.  I have worked a lot the last few months marketing and selling homes and as a result so far all I have done is start some videos.  I have one video project with a couple sloshers and a couple jumpers.  I will call it something like, "After the Hook Set What do Carp Do?" or "Do Carp Ever Jump?"  I'm still thinking about the title.  This video is just for fun.  I have a project I'm working on called "Long Casts and Confidence--Catching Carp at Distance".  I thought this one would be helpful.  I have another one on adjusting and adapting to conditions and fish behavior.  I had hoped to produce something on dropping the fly.  And of course since I have the "Good Luck Duck" recorded I thought I would let him make an appearance on my blog and on YouTube.

Well good grief, so far I haven't finished even one of these.  I'm the closest to finishing "After the Hook Set What Do Carp Do?"  and "The Good Luck Duck".   I'm trying, I'm trying.  Some videos will be coming soon--I hope.