Saturday, October 28, 2006

My carp flies have been getting beaten to death. Last night I tied up 14 to replace the fatalities. After reading about the Puke Fly on the CAG, I tried a couple variations. The cool thing about this fly is that it'd be so easy to see in the water. I also tied up a number of carp woolies... including this crazy one with three hackles. I used hardheard on all of these flies; on my last outing I lost four patterns to unraveling of thread occurence.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Discoverer

Other names could include The Pronouncer, The Proclaimer, The Adventurer or The Swashbuckler.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cyprinid Lunch Hour

How could you ever eat at noon, when you could do this instead?

Up the Shore to Bayfield Wisconsin

For our 5th anniversary, we ambled up the lattitude ladder to Bayfield. No major events - we were pretty focused on relaxing, reading, eating and strolling. Our place of residence was one of the historic buildings on the hill... it was cool enough just to be there: great lakeview and a fireplace. We stopped at Crex Meadows wildlife refuge on the way up - that place deserves some time... some day. One of our walks found for us some apparently wild apple trees... some of the best fruit we've ever tasted.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Plea for Help [a letter to a friend re last week's carp scouting]

I’ve never seen so many carp in my life in one place. The tailwater was just THICK with them… big too – some were the biggest carp I’ve ever seen. It’s difficult to say exactly how big they were, because I was up high on a ledge and they were 1-4 feet deep… but some were HUGE. They looked like monsters. I was getting the shakes at certain points.

Here is what was happening:

(1) In the foam line: big pods of fish “feeding” just under the surface – I could see mouths opening and closing. Very rarely would they break the surface though. It’s possible that these were buffalo fish, but I don’t think they were – maybe a mix though. The trouble was – the foam line is about 60-80 feet out from where I was standing. I was trying to get a cast out that far, but I just couldn’t do it well… and when I did, any time I’d set the hook all kinds of line would come looping back at me – big mess. I didn’t focus on these fish very much.
(2) Between the ledge and the foamline: all kinds of fish in “holding” patterns in slow/dead water, and also just resting in seemingly random locations. These are the fish I was trying to catch. I only had about 6-8 flies with me. I tried a slow sinking clouser-like fly and got no attention… I switched to a DB RL crawdad and got no attention. I tried 3-4 flies and could not get one look – not even a turn. I was putting the fly right on heads and getting nothing. These fish were not actively feeding – I never saw one head down or one tail up. Most were just holding, and some were slowly cruising, but actually those that were moving were mainly moving slowly up and down in the water column – kind of fading in and out of my sight.

I only had about 1.5 hours to cast to these fish. I couldn’t believe that there were so many carp and I couldn’t catch a single one of them. I hooked three, but it is quite possible that all three were foul hooked. The one I did land was tail-hooked… that happened after I started slowly drawing the fly back through fish-thick water… any time I felt resistance I set the hook. That technique has worked for me – I’ve actually caught a few fish fair-hooked using it. The first fish I hooked I never saw, but man did it feel like a suitcase full of cement. It started pulling out and downstream and I never altered its course. It popped off after a nice two minute experience – made me think it was probably foul-hooked.

Your advice would be greatly welcomed. As far as I can tell, here are potential explanations: (1) the fish are just not active, (2) I need other or smaller flies, (3) I need more time to get the perfect situation, (4) my depth perception was screwing me up (I was up really high) and I wasn’t getting the fly deep enough, even though it looked like it was in front of carp faces.

Help me man – it was just killing me! The bummer is that I won’t get back there for a long time – I am booked for quite a while.

You can refer to the figure I drew up last night – may help to better picture the scenario.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

60 Farenheit Sunday

Darn near a perfect weekend in and around Northfield MN:

(1) checked many items of the project to-do list.

(2) made some great food on Saturday night... anything that includes avocados, garlic and lemon can't be wrong.

(3) Every second that JD was awake, we were together as a family of three. We capped it off by heading out to a local park this afternoon. We took in the fall, ate a bit, and played with the new camera. James enjoyed collecting acorns. We tried to explain to him that they are baby trees. He is just more and amazing every day.

The reason we love kids so much: they're the best of us. They're not ridden down by poor outlooks on life, or bad economic forecasts... they're not worried about competing with their peers, acting appropriately... they don't understand embarrassment. They're perfectly and purely honest. They ask the tough questions without hesitation. In some ways I feel like I could take quite a few hints from my son!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Pesky game fish got in the way of carp fishing today.

To start - the weather was backwards: beautiful yesterday as we sat inside at a friends watching football... and 40's and overcast today when I got out fishing. Maybe the cold snap put off the carp... not sure. All I could manage was a smallmouth and some redhorse - very cool fishes, but not my target. Right when I got to the hole I caught three great fish... Then, in the middle of the day (this is a Monday no less) three people arrived and cast bait over my head into the best water available. That was a major negative for me... it was down hill from there. The only highlights from that point were looks I got from passersby as I ate a cold pizza lunch sitting in the river.

It may be time to hang up the carp flies until spring... start looking at fall/winter trout season.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Found more carp - dozens. They killed me again - damn. So I started interacting with easier species and new camera - a distant second.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

These fish are tough – and I mean tougher than nails. I don’t mean tough in a durability sense (they are that too), but more of a “tough nut to crack” tough. I’ve been watching, stalking and fishing to this select group of carp off and on for a couple months now. I’ve hooked one, and landed zero fish so far. Here is the scenario: Conditions are critical… as in any carping situation, but more so here it seems. You need that perfect aquarium lighting to see these fish. You need almost zero wind to accompany that perfect lighting. The last two times I’ve walked over there, I’ve looked out my office window before leaving: “looks nice and bright, and pretty calm” I’ve though both times. When I get there though, I still find that it’s not good enough. Sometimes I feel like the cyprinids move clouds in front of the sun; other times I just wonder if “bright” out the window doesn’t equate to bright enough for carping this pond. On Monday, I ninja-crept to the shore – and I mean black-robed, star-carrying ninja crept. I didn’t even care about the goose crap on the lawn or the thick thistles I kept grabbing as I crabbed along the ground. When I got to the shore though, I found that the lighting wasn’t good enough – I couldn’t see past 2 foot deep water. After slowly circling a piece of the pond, I gave up and stood… walked along somewhat carelessly and found out where the fish were: in ~4 feet of water, feeding heavily I think. I never actually saw them though – the only perception was a wall of swirls and silt plumes that followed me down the shoreline – always staying about 15-20 feet in front of my walking wake. The trouble is, the way the sun hits the water, combined with the bathymetry of the pond, I literally cannot see (even with my kickass polarized lenses) out to 4 foot depth until I am exactly perpendicular to the point I would hope to see. Meaning no angled viewing is allowed at this water, unless conditions are absolutely perfect. So I just keep spooking fish before I even see them… Add to that the facts that (1) there is almost no tall shoreland veg to hide behind, and (2) for some reason these carp bolt at the lightest foot fall, and a guy is in a predicament. I think my 2006 chances at these fish may be over. I believe in 2007 spring/summer the right conditions will allow me to hook another one though… All this just makes that distinct visual of hooking that big one bitter-sweet: I stalked and fooled one, which was a victory, but lost in the end (broke me off on hook set). On the other hand, tough situations like this make every carp landed so remarkable… they are tough: finding, seeing, stalking, accurate casting, presenting right fly, detecting strike, hooking, playing, landing… To complete the process is a true accomplishment.