Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Nature of Carp Fishing

Sunday AM, pulled another early morning deal, only this time my friend and neighbor came along. I had considered (1) exploring another new stream reach - like I did last weekend, (2) going back to that smallie stream and fishing it a little differently - maybe with more minnow patterns, (3) trying to get one last carp. When neighbor confirmed he could get out, I went for option 3, because he's been wanting to tackle a carp for a while now. I'd also seen some great fish feeding right downtown... the sight of tails sticking up out of silt plumes - that can tip the scale to carping it seems.

We got up too early, per my scheduling, and we basically waited around in the dark for the day to come around. We started at that downtown location... and found that day was in fact never going to come. That is, we were largely foiled by overcast conditions. Later a south wind came and compounded further the sight-fishing difficulty. With patience though, and careful study of the water, we were able to spot a few fish. At one point I spotted a couple great tails from high on a wall... marked them by the streamside veg, and ran down to fish to them, only to find that I could see absolutely nothing at the level of the water. I had no shots at fish. Neighbor had one good chance, but didn't get a take. We checked out two more locations - one of which was a bust - we saw silt plumes but couldn't get hooked up. The second showed us a couple great fish. We were perched very high this time... and we could see a couple big, beautiful tails, just waving back and forth in catch-me-flag fashion. Just begging for it. I put a LOD right on one and watched it sink. I saw the slightest change in behavior, so I set the hook and I figured I'd have a fish on... but nothing. One more cast and the fish sensed something and swam off. Not sure what happened - could have even eaten and spit the fly before I set the hook. I do know what I should have done though: put the fly ~8 inches further forward (instead of right on head) so I could have had a better visual cue. Maybe you can tell that I've been replaying that bit in my head a few times. Would have been a great fish, in an extremely difficult spot. Would have been outstanding. Still can't believe I botched that one. Oh well.

On the nature of carp fishing though - this got me thinking... here in our area of SE MN we don't really have a carp water that we can go to and sight fish all day. We have to drive from water to water, searching, hoping, fishing, looking. Getting skunked and stone-walled now and then and occasionally getting into fish. Whereas John Montana out west has quite a Cadillac situation: he can drive somewhere and pretty much know he can sight fish all day if conditions are right. Kind of jealous of that. What it does is make every single fish that we see here somewhat of a big deal. That fish I missed was my one chance all morning. I need to find a water that will tone down that pressure a bit and just let a guy fish, knowing he's got opps coming for a while. Those waters must be out there.

Kids and sunnies saved the day. Out of the blue, JD said "I want to go fishing today." We made it work for the late afternoon, and the kids had a mini-riot at a local fishing pier. For a while though, it seemed even the sunnies were going to blank us... Their behavior has changed a little, and on this outing they wouldn't eat a still presentation. Eventually we figured out that they would aggressively attack the fly when it was skittered around in the surface film like an injured bug.


Blogger Unknown said...

I would have dropped the fly on his nose too. Wouldn't think that the fish would be moving to flies much in the colder water now. Don't second guess yourself.

I totally hear what you mean about finding fish here in MN. It's like a total score when you spot them. When you finally end up landing one, it is an "earned" fish. That's what I loved about the carp I caught this spring on the Upper Otter Tail. Totally unexpected, solo fish. I saw him enter the pool and worked him. Fought him in the heavy current and landed him. Even though it wasn't the biggest fish of the season, it was definitely one of the most earned, and therefore one of the most satisfying catches of the year.

8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I connect with two things you said/did. First, that every fish counts thing. Perhaps its that I'm new to trout fishing and haven't had a day or time when I couldn't keep them off my hook. Second, I also understand questioning yourself. It's good to ask afterwards and learn but not to dwell. I think questioning every thing I do has pushed me to learn the things I have in a short time.

Cheers to "earning" fish in minnesota. This carping things intrigues me. Can you use a 4wt?

8:28 PM  
Blogger John Montana said...

As usual, great report J. I am pretty lucky out here with the columbia, but I'm jealous of a lot of your tailwater grab bag fishing! I bet you can find some big flats out there though...we should do some exploring on our spring trip this year.

9:20 PM  
Blogger Wendy Berrell said...

Right on guys - thanks. As it stands right now, every carp is very meaningful for us MN boys. Driving, looking, hunting... and then some heart-pounding casting and presenting, knowing there may not be another opp for a while. The way it is. FYI, I stopped by that high wall joint again, and I saw that (or a) fish... just asking to be caught. I rigged up SJW quickly... looked back over the wall and the fish was gone. I stared at the water for no fewer than 15 minutes, trying to discern silt plumes or dark shapes... no casts were made. WFF: YES on the 4 wt. In fact, if you are going to go catch one carp and you're not limited by time or fishing in strong current I would recommend a 4 wt. You won't be able to horse much, but it'll be highly enjoyable. Also WFF - we need to meet up at some point and scout the Mississippi flats down by you - looking for a carp haven, as described in lament form in this post.

9:05 AM  
Blogger amanda said...

Your fly fishign reports & the exchanges that come of them are very fascinating, it's always interesting to read your passinoate description of your experiences & the encouragement & advice from your comrades. Enjoy them as I may, I rarely have any comments to add on those posts.
So I'll just say this time - hooray for kids & sunnies! Excelent that they saved the day!

Also - I admired much the little stream/river area you posted about recently. Great photos, it looked like an ideal place to be, full of contrasts between rock & water & foliage. Very nice.

4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sounds like a very good time. Let me know when and where.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Wendy Berrell said...

Update - saw that tail waving again this morning on the way to work... planned my bike route to allow me to check up on that wise carp.


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