Thursday, July 31, 2008

Another Day

Hain't a lot new to report here. The carp were where they should have been, and they ate what they should have eaten. You're probably getting worn out on the long winded stories. Maybe I'll type some more later... for now - I have to go to bed a think a bit on what it felt like to walk out of a place with the intent of making noise and spooking fish away from me so I wouldn't be tempted to cast at them and thus make myself late in getting home (I made it in time).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

You can’t really keep a guy from carping

Explored new water today. Walked up to the first joint – saw a disturbance by the shore and I figured I’d spooked a fish… but closer examination showed a tail. Two casts into it and I had this 13 lber (digital scale) literally hopping at the LOD. It was a tight spot and I had to navigate out of there into open water… if that carp’d played cards right he could have broken me off pretty easily. Very good visual – portrayal of what is becoming the classic excitement prior to inhaling the fly.

Trouble with this spot though, is that it’s a lot of water and not a lot of littoral area. No real flats. Tough place to fish I think. I know I didn’t walk up and catch the biggest carp in the waterbody though… needs more exploring.

Second spot, here is what happened: I started walking, and approx every 60 seconds I came upon carp. Spooked a pair here, cast at one there, caught one here, stalked a feeding trio there… HAHA, YES MF is what I was thinking. It felt like I finally hit a Rochester jackpot. I didn’t have time to even explore the entire water OR the entire area…. But just in the few minutes I had, I saw at least 15 cyprinids. Spooked most… caught a couple… They looked downright puny compared to the double-digiters I’ve been banking lately. These guys were pretty much all in the high single digit range. The smaller one pictured here was not a watch-it-like-a-movie bit, but rather a cast, wait and guess/figure approach. Right in the mouth though.

I guess I did break my streak of consecutive big fish… it was four, and I’d say they were all 12 lbs or greater. Nearly 60 lbs of fish, by way of four catches… a guy can handle that.

Check out the tail in the last pic.

Taking somebody out fishing tomorrow. I'm afraid maybe I've used up my karma... let's hope not!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Oh, Biggie give me one more chance…

I’ll be out of commission for a while, as of yesterday at 3 PM CST. No big deal, but carping will not be an option for a week or so. You didn’t figure I’d lay up without at least one more go of it though, did you? Hehe. It was 12:28 when I glanced at the clock, and the question was: should I try to carp fish on my way home? The answer was: you’re got-damn right I should. My suggestion to you is when you are doing some fence-sitting, err on the side of going fishing.

Walked up to this little joint and right away I saw nervous water. Rigged up the Wayfarer, and triple-tested both my knot and my hook. I figured if I couldn’t break them with my hands, no carp would break them. I crept on what I knew was a carp, and successfully got right on top of her, hiding behind some tall grass. This was a bit in which I said “this is a caught fish – guaranteed.” A guy says that now and then… sometimes it works out. I really figured I had this fish because she was unaware and feeding… and I thought if she’d hadn’t spooked on my approach, she wouldn’t spook before I could hook her. Flipped the LOD and dragged it front/side, but she didn’t see it. I gave it a little jig and she still didn’t see it. I did another flip then, dragged it into position… and boy did she bolt out of there! Pretty funny. I figure she must have seen me – I don’t think the fly spooked her. Just a case of not seeing me right away, but then happening to catch a glimpse of a storky anomaly with shiny glasses standing on the shore… later dude. So I moved on.

Next I saw a fish feeding in a little stand of filamentous algae. I could see everything but her head. I sneaked on her and wait for a few seconds… as luck would have it, she started to move her head out the other side of the algae mass… Flipped the LOD, and after 1-2 seconds she caught sight of it, and did the pounce. I couldn’t actually see the fly enter her mouth, but I knew it was there. I think I said something like “hells yeah” and set the hook. Now this fish decided to be a sprinter and a buller. Right away she took off like Qadry Ismail the Missle and put me half way through my backing! Maybe the best run I’ve gotten from a MN carp. She followed that up with several intermediate runs, and just bulled and bulled in between each of those. What a battler she was. After maybe 10-12 minutes of pretty hard pressure I beached her and pounced into the water. Took a few photos and released her on her way.

I didn’t use the competition control item because I could tell, having the mental reference provided by the previous two fish I had measured, that this one didn’t exceed 33 inches. However, she was BIGGER than the other two, no doubt in my mind. She was fatter, wider and deeper. I’d say she was no less than 15 lbs and no more than 20 lbs… probably closer to 15 than to 20, but I’ve not held that many fish in this range, so it’s hard to pinpoint. No way was she smaller than 15 lbs though. Maybe one of my top 5 carp, but hard to say for sure. Beautiful, strong and determined fish. For those who care, the fly was firmly implanted inside the lip.

I'd love to hear from John Montana, who has held/seen many carp in this range, a weight estimate. Keep in mind the rod is a 7 wt and reel is pretty big!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Fine Buglemouth

Prelude to the day: biking to work with Redington poking out of backpack. Biked over feeding carp. Could not leave said situation without engaging carp. The fish were feeding with gusto - ramming heads into substrate, creating these beautiful upwellings of silt and bubbles... Just frolicking in the small stream ecosystem is what they were doing. I walked up thinking I'd count down some flies on the plumes... didn't have to though - was approached by a slow cruiser. Fly was flipped. Fly was pounced on. In a very strange happening, the head came out of the water in the least exclamatory take I can remember... just kind of slowly dragged the head up with the hookset. No reaction from the fish. Funny. Then my fly broke off at the knot. I got on my bike and pedaled the rest of the way to work.

Fruit of the day: Well, I explored the beyond a little further today. That is, went away from the little corner of this water that I'd been fine-tooth-combing for the past year and headed to some heretofore not-navigated bits. I went past where I'd gone yesterday... stopping to dap at the carp I tangled with prior. They were exhibiting some very cool behavior - sitting tight to the bottom, literally hiding underneath submerged aquatic macrophytes (SAV for the TMDL crowd out there; seaweed for others... hehe). At one point, I swear I became a sixth-sense carp hunter: I was ready to continue on my way past a weed bed, when something made me stop - really - and look at a particular location... after a few seconds I indeed made out the dark scales of a cyprinid, nestled tight in a green cocoon. How cool was that? Pretty cool. Tough to get them in that mess though. First - not active; second - tight spots for flies.

So I heroned my way along. Then it got funny. I mean funny as in "oh, there's a giant tail..." and "ha - there's another one." Hehe... laughed and fished my way through a few spooks, but the fish kept coming. Finally saw two great fish feeding near a weed bed... blew the first one after a good presentation... and then cast past this one, drug fly back to position and let it sink... LOD stuck that sowish carp in short order. Again - no net. Had to battle and battle and battle... just wouldn't come in. No long runs, but just bullish power. Bulling and bulling... this time I came prepared with wading shoes, so I jumped in and just played it out. Beached the fish, and on removing the hook (from the lip no less), it BROKE at the bend... wow - hooks breaking everywhere lately.

Took a few photos. 33" seems to be the ceiling for the local carp contest. I measured this fish against my rod, and then taped it later... pretty much right on 33 inches. There is some error involved, but to the closest inch, it's 33" I think. Guess on weight is somewhere in the mid-teens. Probably 13-15 lb.

Beautiful scale pattern, and big ol' bugle mouth just singing away.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Got 'Em: Part II: Cyprinus elusivius

If there was in fact any sort of monkey on my back, he's been given a decent ass whipping by now. These carp have been bugging me since last year... when I had an aquarium view of a perfect take by the biggest fish in the bunch, only to have my tippet knot break on hookset... and all through the remainder of the summer and fall when they would play spooky-carp with me and elude me constantly.

So today I took a little stroll, and found no carp in the water I usually search. Good lesson learned today though - explore new water whenever possible. I kept walking... found a beautiful carp nosing in some pond weed. Very cool. I presented LOD... and spooked him. How could I screw that up?, I asked out loud. They gave me a few more chances, as there were a number of carp around... Presented the fly to a fish up near the top of the water and got a great take... set the hook and saw only a pause and the tell-tale head shake of something was in my mouth but I felt no resistance. That prompted me to look at my fly... and I saw that the fuggin hook was broken off at the bend. I was then foreshadowing stories of the curse of this water - broken tippet knots, spooked fish, broken hooks.... damn baby. Playin tough is what they were doing. I had them spooked a bit so they had dropped back almost out of sight into deeper water... but they were still hanging around, and they weren't on to me fully I guess you'd say. So I threw a brand new LOD out and let it sink to approx carp head level... and then started to gradually pull it toward me... fish on! I figured right away that I must have snagged it right in the peck fin, but lo and behold when I rolled the fish to the top I saw the fly lodged right inside the mouth. I had no net. Took my shoes and socks off while fighting the fish, and jumped in. I fought the fish for a legitimate 10 minutes. Those minutes featured some very strong, but not very long runs. I could see my backing most of the time, but none of it left the spool. Very strong and very determined fish... a match for the 7 wt and 3x. I had a great waterscape to just let her run and have her way for a while. I didn't want to horse her in but I thought I could gradually see more and more of the fly each time she came into my sight, so I was afraid maybe it was slipping/pulling out. Put the screws to her a bit then and got her up near shore... did a John Montana on that ass then and ran over to her in a mad dash and trapped her in a little tidal pool I guess you'd call it. Great fish - nice big buglemouth.

No less than 31" and no more than 32" according to a pretty accurate measure against my rod. My weight estimate is ~13 lbs, +/- 1 lb.

Not a bad bit. Here are pics, in order taken. You can see the spray droplets falling in one of the photos - pretty cool.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Got 'Em: The Sunning Carp

Actually not that big of a deal but I like that line, and these carp were sticking in my brain since they whipped me on Monday. Swung through on Friday then and gave them another go of it. I didn't have much time. Longer leader, smaller tippet, smaller fly and even softer steps is what I put out there.

The water was up a bit, and it was slightly more turbid. That put a good number of the fish I saw on Monday out of the range of visibility. There were some around though, nearly all doing this:

When I first saw those fish, I passed on them, hoping to find some that weren't hemmed in by 15" DBH logs in the river. I didn't really find anything better though, so I circled back and starting putting flies on them. I got refusals and spooks, but not as blatant as the last time... I got the feeling that I was going to get a take, and it worked out in short order. Fish's head was right by a snag and I was blocked from seeing the mouth... but I guessed on the hookset and it was there. Good feeling - I had missed a couple fish and for a while I thought I was going crazy and losing all ability and reflex to set the hook. Only problem was that I had to jump down a vertical bank of ~5 feet to land the fish. Did that.

Next I fished to this guy for ~15 minutes. He was feeding, so he held my attention.... mouthing around in the branches and leaves of the newly-fallen snag is what he was doing... pretty deliberate movements of body and mouth - cool to watch. He was so into it though, and there was so much tree in the way, I just couldn't get him to take a fly. I think if I'd had a clean shot to lay it down in front of him, he'd have eaten it. I eventually just left him to do his bit and I moved on. Cool fish. Hard to believe a guy would consider hooking a fish in that mess. My plan (that wouldn't have worked) was to try to haul/ski him up over a log after hooking.

Got lucky with the second fish of the day. Walking without much caution downriver on a fishy stretch... came right up on a solo feeding fish, pointed right at me in dead still water. I thought for sure the spook was coming... flipped the LOD out there, 8 inches up and 8 inches to the left of the fish, and the cat pounce was on. I got to watch all of that one. I forgot my protractor at home, so I'm planning to call IGFA to have them determine whether or not this is a fair hooked fish... hehe.

Little monkey was on my back... not a big deal, but he's kind of off now. I shouldn't be fishing to this mood of carp. Need to find some feeding fish. Need to find a flat somewhere.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A bad day fishing is better than...
Monday. Made all the wrong decisions - from which major river system to fish, to what water to hang around, to what fish to target, to what flies to use.

There were carp everywhere, but they were not to be caught.

Right away I picked up one of a trio of fish feeding at the head of this log jam... kind of cool to watch. I had to drift the fly down under a branch. I didn't get to see the take due to the angle of presentation. Smallish fish that didn't run very far...

Then it was on to sunning carp hell. I put flies on fish after fish - all of which were either sunning or just holding behind current breaks. I figured with a few hours to pound on them I could get at least a few takes. They woudn't eat. In fact, they spooked on the fly repeatedly.

You can't really dislike the act of fishing. You can't really say you had a bad day if you spent it holding a fly rod. There is something lacking though if you can't achieve the connections with the fish that you've come to know pretty well. You know what you're missing.

Getting whipped is part of it.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

There and Back Again

Took a road trip recently, in Wink182 – the overheating Saturn to which I am faithful. Instead of plodding along big roads, I pedaled straight east to Missi Zibbi, and then turned downstream. As I drove south, when faced with an intersection, I’d choose whichever road stayed closest to The River. That’s navigation.

Got hot and got the itch, so I pulled off at a given point somewhere in the SE quadrant of the state (Google it). Within 10 seconds I put my eyes on a carp, feeding slowly in some near-bank vegetation. I got rigged up then, and started walking. There were not carp everywhere, but almost. Every few minutes I found one or a few feeding. I had to get pretty close to fish to them, so I spooked quite a few. Found a group of three mowing around in very shallow water… I heron-walked on their asses and had it just perfect… but then decided to change flies. I kept my legs stone-still while tying on a Legion of Doom… but sometimes when you’re frozen like that you just start to tip… anyway, I was standing <10 feet from the fish, and I fell backwards on my ass and made quite a clamor amidst the rocks. I laughed out loud as I got up, expecting the fish to have gone and maybe even traced a middle finger in the silt… but – HA – they were still there. Pretty funny, given that just minutes before I fished to one and he spooked when I made the softest sound by bumping two rocks together beneath my foot. Anyway – I got one the LOD fly to one of them, gave it a little “jig” and watched as the fish swam on over and sucked it up. Deadly visual. Not a deadly fish… but that’s okay.

On the way out I found a dead gar. I put the head in my trunk, and it traveled with me. It’s now in my garage.

The way back was near as good. I was treated to a stunning sunset. It was very late by the time I rolled into the Root River watershed… pretty much dark. I quick pulled off the road as the last sunbeams left, and said I’d only fish if I saw anything rising. I looked for a while and I did in fact see a few rises. They were sporadic, and I couldn’t tell what they were eating, in part because it was damn near black out but also because I don’t really know shit about hatches. I’m indecisive, so I went back and forth: fish or not… ?? Finally I said there’s no one at home waiting for me, and I won’t be back on a Root River trib at this time of night in this situation for a long time if ever. So I put on an EHC and tossed it out there. The night was very cool… some mosquitoes bombed me a bit… and there was a bit of a night creature chorus. All in all, it was good. The two fish I could get to wouldn’t eat the caddis though. I ignored the fact that they were ignoring the fly and I kept putting it on them. Over and over. I keyed in on the one closest to me and I tried to drift it exactly where it was rising… and like all the books say – persistence won out. Fish took the caddis and it was a joyful moment there in the night, on that little stream. That was all I needed so I packed up and drove north.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

From pages 129-130 of Nathan Coulter, by Wendell Berry

He put the sack on the porch and took out a half stick of dynamite with a piece of fuse already set in it. He started down the bank, carrying the dynamite by the fuse, holding it away from him as if he were carrying a live wildcat by the tail. Before anybody could say anything to stop him he lit the fuse and flung the dynamite into the river.

After the explosion we sat there, watching the dead fish float up to the surface.

William turned toward us and grinned, without looking at any of us as if he grinned at the empty house. He was already ashamed of what he'd done, but he wasn't going to back down.

"How's that for fish?" he asked.

Big Ellis said, "Burley, do you want some of them fish?"

"No," Uncle Burley said. "Help yourselves."

Big Ellis asked to borrow our boat, and he and J.D. and William rowed out to pick up the fish.

"Jig," Uncle Burley said, "they've got enough fishes to feed a multitude."

Jig shook his head. "It's unblessed, Burley, and no loaves."

"Maybe they'll blow up a bakery," Uncle Burley said.