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.


Blogger John Montana said...

I'm betting that they are not feeding, and are instead focussed on the warmer waters from the tailout, and better oxygen content. if that is the case, it will be tough. sorry i'm not more help. if you show me that spot i'll figure it out eventually!

1:47 PM  
Blogger Wendy Berrell said...

You'll be there soon... you'll love it. You might have a heart attack before you can cast though - it can be quite a sight!

4:38 PM  
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