Thursday, July 16, 2015

Lake Michigan: Day Zero


Never had a day on Lake Michigan by myself prior to June 24, 2015.  Here is how it came about.  When we were kids we spent every summer from third grade through ninth grade 47 northwest of San Antonio TX.  We used to dam up Cherry Creek such that most summers we never did take showers or baths only swims.  One year our great uncle brought a sheet of poly down there to the creek and he let the current push it up against the rocks thereby greatly improving the function of the dam.  We would dive down into the bed looking for triangles of chert; the knapped weaponry.  Always wary of snakes.  Never walking too far into the meadow for the sand burrs.  We rode in a truck bed standing with our elbows on the roof of the cab looking through scopes; at night we listened to stories and legends.  Days we worked mostly: there was unending mowing, rock picking, fence painting and tree pruning.  I think in fifth or sixth grade I was put to the wheel of the truck and we three boys would go out on jobs alone here and there. I figure I've romanticized it some but the overall message is that we valued those days and accordingly we try to set up some time for our boys to take leave of home and log some time with their grandparents.  So it was in late June: no kids around.  We enjoyed some time at home focusing spouse to spouse; this was a trip in itself; and then when the day came to pick up John Montana and Funhogger I figured people around here tired of me so I might as well drive over 5 AM instead of 5 PM.  Do some exploring.

All I did here was look at air photos.  Lake Michigan.  Quite a few carp.  Where would they come up close that one might approach them with a fly.  My top prospect was blocked by (1) an expanse of impenetrable cattails, and (2) what I took to be a drug deal in a remote parking lot when I asked a guy if he knew "how to get back to that delta" and he looked at me hollow-eyed and middle-aged and pot-bellied and said "I don't have any idea what you mean" and I wondered what in the hell he could be doing way back here if he wasn't looking for birds or fish; when I walked back to the lot I had a big slug of limestone palmed just in case but it wasn't needed.  This was a whiff, not because no carp (I'm sure they are there now and were there then); but because no access.

The second prospect is pictured below.  The access was gained by the ancient method of walking around until finding something.  In this case it was a dead end road with a drag channel for a canoe.  Waders on, walk out.  Will one sink; unclear.  But walk out and see.  No, one will not sink.  In fact it's quite hospitable.  And there were carp in all directions.  First I went left into the windward; this was too turbid; I don't know anyone who could have caught those carp; I was pushing wakes.  Fish everywhere; dozens spooked without actually seeing a single scale.  Maddening.  So walk into the wind and use geometry to find a lee.  

Still difficult but manageable, as pictured here.  Some carp were grouped up apparently spawning or preparing.  Others were feeding; others just holding.

This was my view; extreme care was necessary.  Slow moving; even heron-standing.  Water-pushing was the surest way to alert all carp to presence.

Typical fight scene.  Plowing through vegetation.  It was not dramatic; no runs.  Althought the first fish broke me off running into cattails.  Two biggest fish I hooked broke me off, using the locale to advantage.  



Ended up hooking five and landing three carp in a few hours.  I left in the name of recon: I understood this place and what it offered; needed to look further up the shore.  


I believe the three fish landed were 8, 13 and 9 lbs.  This is how one weighs a carp: put in net, hook scale onto net; read output; subtract tare.  

This fly hooked all the fish on this day.  It's a good one.

Subsequent exploration found carp, but not the right situations.  As has been noted, it's the situations that are sought.  Anyone can find carp.  So I blew out of there and picked up my guys.  We were notably excited; we had high expectations.

What joins men together is not the sharing of bread but the sharing of a quarry (adapted from Judge Holden, CM), and we were thus focused.

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