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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Some Days Are Just So Good! Not All of Them, But Some of Them...

All days of fly fishing for carp are good days, even the ones when I don't catch fish.  Some days are heavenly; some days, not so much.

The Columbia is a monstrous, long, wide river.  While there are carp all over the river there is a lot of the river that has no access or no shallow water.  Even spots that I have fished many, many times don't always have carp.  There could be carp in a particular spot but the water could be murky or the wind could be howling, or both.  Conditions can be adverse and sometimes downright terrible.  Then there are those days when the water is clear, the wind is mild but the fish are ever so bored with my flies. Oh Lordy, they can turn away from flies with indifference and disgust.  Conditions can be perfect but the damn fish just don't seem to know it!  That's carp fishing.

Recently I fished three consecutive days; it was a trip I had been planning and savoring for weeks.  Anticipation was high.  On the first day, the wind was blowing straight at the shore so it was churning up the bottom leaving the water with no visibility.  It was blowing so hard that I had difficulty keeping my balance. Ninety minutes was all I could take before I decided I had had enough.  Lets see...I didn't make any casts so that means I didn't catch any fish.

Conditions were grim again on the second day.  I went to a different spot hoping to find clearer water.  I wouldn't exactly call what I found, "clearer"; it was more like, "ever so slightly less muddy".  Since I didn't make a single cast the day before I felt just getting one shot would be a victory today.  I waded around as slowly as I could trying to peer through the muddy water.  Finally, in some water that wasn't even up to my knees I saw a tailing fish.  Well, I didn't see the whole fish in the murky water; all I could see was the top of his tail.  I dropped Black Betty in front of him.  I don't know who was more surprised when I set the hook--the fish or me; I think it was me.  That was my one presentation for the day.  After less than 3 hours I knew it was hopeless and so I headed back to the Carp Lodge.

Here is a gray sky, murky water, windy day, fish:

I'm such a nice guy; how could conditions be awful again on the third day?  Well they were.  I walked around in muddy water and sulked.  The muddy water wasn't enough though; on the third day it was completely overcast.  Talk about, "NOT a chance!"  Not one cast and not one damn fish!  I went back to the Carp Lodge, I sulked, and I drank some beer.

In three days of fishing I made a total of one presentation; that was it.  It was disappointing; I swear it was enough to make me want to take up golf or bowling or horseshoes, or even croquet; hell, I don't know, anything would be less frustrating than those three days!

Some days, not most by any means, things just come together when I'm fly fishing for carp.  The water is clear, or mostly clear anyway.  The sky is that wonderful, beautiful shade of nothing, but, blue!  There is a light wind.  I see carp feeding and cruising where I decided to fish.  Oh, and one more thing, the carp take my fly.  Those days are heavenly.  Yes, they are heavenly!

Two weeks after those three memorably disappointing days, I decided croquet didn't really sound that interesting after all.  I fished two days.  No clouds, light wind, and almost clear water--well now, that's what I'm talkin' about.  Oh yeah!

I didn't get the first fish I cast to but I saw a fish fairly soon and that was such an improvement from the the last trip.  The second fish didn't want my fly either.  The third fish made me smile; of course I smiled, he took my damn fly!  And away we went...I hooked 11 and got 9 to the net.  I thought back to two weeks ago; I forgave the river for being muddy, I forgave the wind for blowing too hard, and I forgave the devil clouds for covering the sun.

Eight hour days of fishing are a thing of the past for me.  Five to six hours of wading and I have had enough.  Nine fish to the net in 5 1/2 hours sure as hell makes me happy!

Most of the second day I was fishing Mr. P.'s Carp Carrot; the fish thought it looked yummy.

The next day conditions were great again.  Golf or horseshoes?  What the hell was I thinking?!   I could only think about spotting fish, stalking carefully, making good presentations, and getting hookups.  I must have been doing most of it at least passably well because in 5 hours I had 10 hookups and put 8 in the net.  Lordy, I love carp fishing!

The fish I caught ranged from 8 to 20 pounds.  One of the highlights of these two days was that I got two gorgeous mirrors which were both over 18 pounds.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Decisive Turn to the Fly

Yikes, I haven't made a post for a year.  You would think I gave up fishing.  Perish the thought!  I will fish until the end of my days or until my aging body will not allow me to.

I have fished a lot these past 12 months; in particular these last two and a half months.  In March I even fished for tarpon in Puerto Rico.  I would post a picture...but ammm.....hmmmm.....there is the little problem of not getting any of them to the boat.  Just imagine the tarpon; I still do...

A good number of fat trout were nice enough to take my fly in the late winter and early spring.  I sure appreciated them getting me through those short, cloudy days.

In his 1835 poem, "Locksley Hall" Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote, "...In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish'd dove; In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love."  Yeah, yeah, yeah, great poem and all Al, but I gotta tell you, in the spring this "young" man's fancy turns to thoughts of carp fishing.  Yes indeed!  I'm in love all year long with my wife but in the spring and summer I'm thinking about tailing carp, good casts, well placed flies, visual takes, and screaming reels.  Oh hell yes baby!  

Caught on April 7, this was my first carp of the season; that's the earliest I have ever fished for them.

    The weather was surprisingly mild; I sure appreciated some willing carp taking a size 8 Black Betty--at the beginning of April no less.

    Most carp I catch in the PNW take the fly very subtly; kind of like they can hardly be bothered. There is an exception for everything and this carp sure was.  He made a decisive turn for the fly.  The original video is HD and is much more clear than the E Blogger optimized version.  You can see a clearer version on my Instagram account--@JimPankiewicz  


There will be additional posts coming again more regularly.