Thursday, May 31, 2007

A New Home River

Tonight is our last in our Cannon River Watershed home. Tomorrow night we flop down to the Zumbro. We've lived here for just longer than six years. We're in the throes of packing and filling a big truck right now.

We'll be leaving a lot of good carp water... but coming into some good situations too.

First Zumbro River carp caught last week (4 wt Avid)

Mistakes sometimes happen when fishing carp

Second Zumbro River carp (4 wt Avid)

Monday, May 21, 2007

My Clock Was Getting Dirty

So I decided to get it cleaned. It went like this:

Sight fishing for these local carp with the 4 wt is fun. However, the past few brief outings I’ve had have regularly produced fish. Thus, the question must be asked: how can one make the process more difficult? Enter the Micro Fly Rod, by J. Austin Forbes.

Today was supposed to be my flex day off, but I ended up working better than half of it. On my way home though, I figured I could justify stopping for 1.5 hours of fishing. Everyone was napping at home anyway. I’d stopped at this location a couple times recently, and I told John Montana that I’d return there with the Micro today – try to catch a carp on it…. I’ve not heard of anyone catching a carp with a Micro. In fact, I don’t know anyone else who owns one.

I ended up tallying six hookups – here is a fish-by-fish account:

Fish #1: estimated 6-8 lbs
I dropped a swimming clouser on a tailer, and “guessed” that he had it – meaning no visual cues. I guessed right, and was rewarded with my first connection. I have to say I was a little surprised to find that I could actually put a hook in a carp with that little rig - I knew it was possible, but I thought I'd have to wait a little longer than 10-15 minutes of fishing. I slid down the bank and fought the fish for about five minutes – went okay until he got close and caught sight of me… he then took off like a mad dog and ran all the way through my backing and when I put the brakes on he broke me off. Nice! He kicked my tail and I loved every second of it.

Fish #2: estimated 8-10 lbs
In a similar fashion, I dropped a DB Legion of Doom fly on a tailer and guessed right again – couldn’t believe it! This one didn’t last as long though – immediately ran right through my line and backing and I remember saying “I’m gonna run of f*ckin’ line again” and I did just that.

Fish #3: estimate 8-10 lbs
In this instance I was fishing to a couple of tailers that kept fading in and out of my view. All of a sudden a bigger fish came into sight on the edge of the silt plain – not feeding but looking interested anyway. I quickly cast out there and I got to watch this fish spot the fly as it began to sink, then charge ahead aggressively and suck it in – NICE! I set the hook, and immediately threw the one non-waterproof device I was carrying on the bank. I was set to jump in after this fish – I did just that as it began to lay waste to my line and backing…. I should have known that it was futile though – I just ran downstream in the main current and the fish just ran faster. I got to the end of the spool and broke that one off too. You’d think I was frustrated at this point, but on the contrary I was loving getting my clock cleaned.

[by now I was soaked, shoes full of silt and body beaten up – I took a 15 minute break – walked back to car – discarded all leader/tippet and replaced with slightly bigger diameter and better knots/loops, then returned]

Fish #4: 2 lbs 10 ounces [world record at the time of landing??]
This was another drop on tailer and guess – I can’t believe that I actually seem to have this technique down. I basically think to myself “okay, it sank right by his head, and he must have it by now” – set the hook and find the fish on – wow – almost as cool as seeing the take but not quite. I'm amazed every time it works. With the bigger tippet and fresh knots I knew I had this fish when I saw how small it was… fought for maybe five minutes and landed it. I punched the record button on the camera and wedged it in the bank in an effort to get some action shots.

Fish #5: almost identical to fish #4 in size, but didn’t weigh it
I found a bunch of smaller carp feeding by the head of a log dam. I put a fly to them, and one of those youngsters dashed about 3 feet to suck it up – very cool visual on this one. Fought and played – second fish landed – very nice. I thought my day was done. I figured – landed two on the micro – that is more than a day’s work. I stuck around for just a few more minutes though…

Thanks Zonker for another great pattern - it landed all three fish today:

Fish #6: 14 lbs 10 ounces [current world record for carp on Micro]
I was stalking around when out of nowhere came this big-looking carp, feeding along the bank up ahead of me... Big enough to give me pause - did I really want to try to tangle via Micro with a fish that immense? Yes. I tried to cast to it, but right away got tangled in a bush. I slowly and carefully removed the fly and found that not only did I not spook the fish, she had moved directly under me! I got ready to dap a fly on her, but before I could I witnessed her back up, then ram the bank with her head like a battering ram… then pick through the silt and shrapnel for any morsels she could find – wow – very cool. I dropped a little fly right in front of her, and I kid you not – she spotted that thing and surged forward for it. I have to admit that given the rod I was holding in my hand, I was a little scared of actually hooking this fish… but of course I did. She lurched back from the bank, I threw my electronics on the ground and slid down the bank, ready to SWIM after this fish I wanted so badly to land it… The fight was on, and it was a good one. I’d learned from the previous fish that I’d better not let this one see me – seeing the fisherman induces intense and deadly runs by carp that leave fishermen with limp lines. I stood statue still whenever she got close, and that worked – didn’t try to net prematurely. She did make some great runs, and I was really focused on “letting” her get away with 75% of each run, but then leaning on my heavy tippet to keep that other 25% in my court. I was dug in like a patient monk – ready to play the fish into submission. I did just that, and after 10-12 mintues of battle I landed one of my top carp - not biggest ever, but a landmark fish for that little rig. I took a number of photos and let her go. She was all beat up when I landed her – I am certain that was not from the fight – not sure what happened to her. The bugle mouth on that fish was amazing. Also, it is the furthest back in the mouth I’ve ever had a fly lodge. It did fall out like butter though when I bumped it with my forceps.

So – six fish hooked, half of them landed; half were guesses and half were visual hookups…. Nice balance for the day. Man, what an outing. Next time I bring out a 4 wt it’s going to seem like I’m strong-arming the fish!

I’ll self-proclaim the title of world record holder for carp on Micro until someone either beats it or shows me record of a bigger fish. In fact, I’m wondering how this fish ranks in the overall list of ANY fish caught on a Micro.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sight Fishing Rocks

It just fricking rocks hard. I hain't been out fishing much lately, being that there is a lot going on around here. I never did report on the last couple times out though. Here is a summary statement regarding said instances: sight fishing for carp just kicks ass. Both of my last two outings were very short, and each produced only one fish... but that was enough.

#1: I was skulking around a carp flat and I spotted a nice fish out a ways... I ninja crept it down the slope and started to cast to the fish, only to find that after I dropped to the level of the water, two smaller carp came into my sight - just 6-8 feet away feeding under a shrub overhang. I forgot about the fish in the distance and cane-poled the fly in the face of one of the nearby fish... kind of spooked and said "screw that buddy" and just slowly turned away from it... I put the fly in the cone of sight of the second fish though, and I was able to watch like it was on TV: the carp slowly dipped its head, flared mouth open and set mouth down on top of fly... wow. I was so crushed by the imagery I could barely bring myself to set the hook. I did though, and the fish took off like a bat out of hell 40+ feet downriver and broke me off. I can 100% honestly tell you that I didn't care about losing that fish. I've got the image. Later on I did sight fish to and land a different fish of similar size, but the take was observed from a distance so the drama was not as high.

#2: I was walking a high bank of a big river and there weren't many fish to be seen. I found two in a big ol' mass of trees, and I was actually considering casting to them even though I was guaranteed to break them off immediately... I just wanted to see if I could fool them I guess. Finally I saw a tail and focused on it for a while... head came into view and I was only 8 feet away up high on the bank... I snaked my fly rod through the long grass and simply dropped a swimming clouser right in front of the fish. I kid you not - that carp back-ferried a little with its pelvic fins, looked down at the fly and basically said "holy cow, look at that morsel - I'm going to pound that down!" I watched the head dip, mouth flare open... set the hook and it was on. In the big river with small 4 wt a 4 lb fish puts up a pretty good fight. I couldn't resist the grip-n-grin photo - there was the face of the bank sitting there just perfect for me to place the camera on it like a shelf. I had to apply some pretty good pressure to keep that fish out of the logs.

So you tell me: would you rather set a tip-up or a bobber out and blindly catch a fish, or sight, stalk and fool fish? Even thinking about Buffalo Days... I can say that is more fun to sight fish to 5 lb fish than to blind fish to 15 lbers.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Brake-Light Knees on some Chicken Legs

JD and I were at a NFLD park a couple days ago, and we were throwing around a nerf football and shooting a basketball on the little court by the playground. I had to take this pic after we got home to commemorate what has become one of my favorite images: I asked JD to "get ready to catch" - meaning put elbows together, hands angled down a bit and focus on the ball - he did that... but he had shorts on and he had skinned his knees up earlier in the day at Bridge Square... so here was this little dude with blood dripping from his knees - red in major contrast to his white chicken legs... crouched down with his knees practically up to his ears... holding his elbows together, hands tilted down... looking at me and just waiting for the ball with pure anticipation on his face. I burned that one into my memory.

Danny Boy

DMW is two weeks old now. We're at home, happy and safe. Many people have come by to visit, and some have offered extended stays (thanks!). We've had many great moments recently - pics can't do them justice but we'll let these try.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Little Brother with Eyes Open

Not a lot of extra time around here right now... but wanted to at least get a couple pics of DMW out. Photo cred to Em's mom.