Thursday, April 26, 2012

Seeking Situations Everybody knows where some trout are holed up; everybody knows where some big carp reside. Bunch of trout down there in the bottom of that belly; some big ones too. 35+ lb carp in that lake for sure; my guy arrowed one that he scaled at that weight. The fish are everywhere and we know it. But a person isn't really looking for fish (and this won't swerve off into some deal about a guy looking for himself when he's fishing). Rather looking for situations: the right size trout water - the one that affords concealment for trout and camo for fisherman. Looking for the carp water that let's you see the fish and approach the fish. Number of criteria go into evaluating situations. Case #1: fishing to fucking trout in aquarium holes. And not even that many trout. The other day we chose some water that was too small, too low gradient and too sparsely populated with salmonids. It was tough man. The setting was interesting and beautiful - deep down in a valley, nice pasture. But we could tell right away it was going to be a tough go. Very few holes. And what holes were present showed belly-dwelling spooky fish. Some find this challenging and amusing. I've never been too into it. I like to let those fish be. I like to sight fish to situations, i.e. sight fish trout without actually seeing the trout but knowing 100% the trout is there and visualizing bouncing nymphs. So anyway we were fortunate to get a few small trout to hand and then move on. We'll make up next time. I did get to fish a 10 foot 3 wt, which was pretty badass. I hexed it though by losing two fish.
Case #2: carp everywhere today while doing some recon for work. Everywhere. We chased them off rapids and we pushed them in wakes ahead of us as we moved across flats. There are carp in there, that would be the report. Of course there are carp in there; this is a SE MN river system. We found one flat that showed so many fish... but only as silt plumes. Clarity ~4" and we strained and strained through polarized glasses and we simply could not see even the vestige of a black geometry under the water surface. We were getting right on top of them too. One hit my kayak so hard I figure it listed approx 15-20 degrees. Big deal though. What good is it? For the sight-fisherman it is of little good. I believe you could put in prolonged effort and eventually get some fish (indeed, Danny and I got one off that flat last year); but given remote location and undesirable situation, ratio of time and work to fulfillment goes way up. Not the right deal. And chasing those fish off riffles - not the right deal. How would you fish to those guys, there in the middle of nowhere, seen only by kayaks passing over the top? More carp but wrong situation. And then on the way out, saw a bunch of fish stacked up by a dam. Probably could have caught a few. But smallish fish, milling around not really looking super positive. Mixed in with redhorse, suckers, quills. And you'd have to much around quite a bit to land them. Maybe this situation would rate as barely-marginal. But then finally, around 4 PM when day is done... here come some fish in the right scenario. In a stillwater setting, one fish milling in rocks. The look of interest is clear. Not tailing but going down for something, then up, then scooting. A dead man walking is what the fish was the second it was sighted. And the situation provided obscurity to my human outline. Opportunity to approach. Formulaic indeed. And thus the first cast resulted in a cat-like assault on whatever fly I put out there. 100% visual record and a good thing indeed. I took that fish and put it in a makeshift livewell and said if you are here when I return I will eat you. Because I had to move on to another deal that was making itself known to me: that of a dozen or so fish milling in and out of current, feeding in mid-column and occasionally on the top. I could approach these fish from the side. Stay low; they wouldn't see me. I worked a 90 degree angle. This did take attention to fly selection. The first was too heavy; couldn't levitate it in front of faces. The second was just some polar chenille with no weight - looks like a blob of algae or maybe a berry. Too light. Probably would have worked eventually, but I didn't have the patience. The third fly was a moderately-weighted soft hackle. This showed up in the water as a dark spot, and I could walk the dog right to where I wanted it. So I crouched there in the sun, wet wading in shifting sand, casting up into the current and guiding it to these fish. All told this took a good 15-20 minutes but I didn't quit because this was clearly a good deal; not just a chance or something that required help from the fish. This was an angle that if worked properly would come out. So I wasn't leaving. Finally guided that fly just right and I saw a gray head tick to the left... hook set and now-regular involuntary whoop. Recognize the right deal and make it work. Don't burn your valuable time fuckin around with long-shot stuff. This carp is now in a cooler of water waiting for a heavy knife tomorrow morning around 530 AM. I think the binary-star glimmer on that polar chenille is what got this one.

10 Comments:

Blogger John Montana said...

Good stuff here. You once said: "Finding carp is easy, finding carp in fishable situations is key"

I steal that all the time.

10:08 PM  
Blogger e.m.b. said...

"We found one flat that showed so many fish... but only as silt plumes." Yup yup. Happened to Jay and I about a week ago, in a canoe. Couldn't see them until we were right on top of them. Great stuff.

On another note, I'm starting Wendell Berry's "A Timbered Choir." So good.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Spot-on post! How do you cook your carp? That's one thing that was on my list to try last Summer that never materialized. It will happen soon.

11:27 PM  
Anonymous PF said...

Man, you are so intense. Really fine imagery in this post.

11:33 PM  
Blogger Gregg said...

Can't help but say this, any chance I have is a good chance. I can't be picky. Lucky for me I have a lot of patience always mixed with unbounded optimism. But you in your way picked up some nice fish.

Gregg

11:27 AM  
Blogger Ross Brecke said...

I feel like I learn something every time I read a post from you, THANKS! p.s. how do you cook them? what are they comparable to?

7:39 PM  
Blogger Trevor Tanner said...

If I would have fished more like you I think I would have found the awesome fish I found late earlier and caught allot more fish today. Food for thought for me.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Wendy Berrell said...

Good notes - thanks. Feel fortunate to have a good group of folks interested in carp.

(1) Just finished smoking that cypriniforme. This time I used a better brine overnight, and then smeared on black pepper and brown sugar right before smoking. Left out there from 10 AM to 5 PM today. Very good. Although the dark meat is still not really palatable. The white meat along the dorsal is exceptional though: peppery and sweet, kind of like fish jerky.

(2) I do not own "A Timbered Choir" but I've read it. Glad you are checking into it. Also see "Openings" and then for something more recent "Given."

7:37 PM  
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