Sunday, April 19, 2009

One Third of a Century

I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. - Bilbo Baggins on the occasion of his eleventy-oneth birthday.

33 1/3 is roughly akin to eleventy-oneth. The former is my age now. To note the occasion, a number of events were planned. The first of which was a 1.25 day carping expedition.

There were a few key highlights to this trip:
(1) Getting a new guy into carp on the fly.
(1a) Watching him get pretty damn excited every time he hooked a carp.
(2) Accidentally catching a dragon-headed giant walleye with a carp fly.
(3) Sight fishing to a beautiful 15 lb tailer.
(4) Spending a day in the sun and a night in The Big Woods.

WFF got right into carp. Before I did in fact. Here he is battling and then releasing his first cyprinid.

This walter scaled out right around 8 lbs. I take no credit for catching the fish, as I was not pursuing walleye. Pretty funny that a carp fly fisherman can stumble on this old girl... Amazing creature really - her head made me think of a dragon that a guy might see in Middle Earth.

After the walleye debacle, we settled into a carp focus. WFF made a key discovery: very little weight was needed, despite low water. I had it in my head that I was going to load up on big sinkers and get way down in the pool... Turns out that was a snagfest. His lighter rigs were fair-hooking fish. Advice from the rookie carper is what it was. I went lighter, and we both got into a decent carp groove. We snagged a lot of fish, but I'd say ~50% were fair hooked. In most cases you could feel the good takes and positive hookups. Most snagged fish came off... some were landed. I nabbed one buffalo around 10 lbs but it slipped away during hook removal.

Note happy-face guy below:

There were many carp to be had. All were pretty small, but no complaints here. Sore arms for sure. Sometimes a non-fish pic can sum up the day. Here is that one then - the view we had for ~6 hours... looking up:

And looking down:

Credit goes to John Montana for encouraging use of the RLHE pattern, and also to Roughfisher for this brown carp fly - they ate the HELL out of that thing. Great fly. Need more in fact.

Bed rolls out at 9 PM.

Last thing my eyes saw 'fore I fell asleep.

Day Two

Well, three hours of fishing anyway: 8:30-11:30 AM.

We scanned a few haunts, this morning looking not for numbers but for some larger fish - preferably sight-fishing opportunities. Walking shores/banks... searching and sneaking...

GOLLUM: Sneaking? Sneaking? Fat Hobbit is always so polite. Smeagol shows them secret ways that nobody else could find and they say “sneak!” Sneak? Very nice friend, oh yes my precious very nice , very nice!

SAM: Alright! Alright! You just startled me is all. What were you doing? (He looks over the cliff.)

GOLLUM: Sneaking.

We had some good opps at cruising fish, but they weren't that interested. I put a SJW on one, and he moved to it... I picked up the rod and the fish was there. However - came to find snagged in dorsal fin. No pic there.

While WFF was working some fish, I leap frogged him and started on a bit of a mission. Looking for one fish and one fish only. A tailer. Wanted one. Like I'd sent an invite and a fish had responded... I came to a beauty with tail straight up in a foot or so of water. Right near shore. Waving a banner that said 33 1/3 birthday present.

Give us that, Déagol, my love,' said Sméagol, over his friend's shoulder.
'Why?' said Déagol.
'Because it's my birthday, my love, and and I wants it,' said Sméagol.

I decided at that point that I would get a fly to that fish at all costs. On my belly then, and 0.001 mph to the bank. Fish still there. Flipped the LOD out - perfect cast - fish moved to it - set hook - nothing there. Fortunately fish did not spook. Flip again exactly where I wanted it... Fish slowly pivoted to it... dipped a bit - set hook. On. Fish on. Day made. Heavy fish with big gut - fought hard. Scaled at 15 lbs (scale calibration showed 10 lb weight registered 9 lbs on scale, FYI). Pardon the grip and grin - don't usually post them but that whole sequence had me beaming. Genuine smile. I guess it's not what you'd call a toothy grin, but for a third-of-a-century grumpy guy it's pretty good.

On to another location - we spotted some BIG fish that stopped us for an hour. We nymphed, and in the time we had we hooked three fish between us. I landed two that ate Roughfisher's brown X nymph. Just ate it like biatches. Right in the lip. Walking along the dam structure... pretty cool. No one else would walk out there, so we had unique access. These fish were 10 and 11 lbs. Great, fairly long battles.

The trip wasn't without a few bumps in the road. Lost fish, snagged fish, lost flies, flat tire. Etc, etc. All part of an overall good thing though.

Back around noon to prepare for a little party. Various shades of beer were made present.

Late afternoon with kids at park. Check out rounding third base in flip-flops.

Solid trip. Thanks to WFF for heading north and being open to exploring a new dimension of fly fishing. He took to it very well I'd say. We have a new carp scout down there on Ole Miss, which is significant.


Blogger Unknown said...

Sweet! I'm trying to locate based on the bridge, I'm itching to get into some carp as well - seems like they are picking up faster than last year.

That many snags must mean you were essentially dragging flies through a swarm of carp! Awesome!

Can you email me your secret spot - I understand you'll have to kill me...

2:11 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Side note - my first carp was caught on a BHHE - they seem to love-em - but the need to be bigger than the trouty version (that nailed some brown fare this morning!)

2:14 PM  
Blogger amanda said...

Goodness, happy 33 1/3 years to you! We're sorry we didn't clue in to that occasion, a third of a century is something special. :)
By the way, how are those kids of yours? Tell them hello for us.

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

were you using the flies from last summers mini-swap? If you need more of those X-Factor nymphs maybe we can get another swap going.

6:13 PM  
Blogger Wendy Berrell said...

Shoot me a note sometime Paul (don't have your address here at home).

The kids are great - we took a half day fishing together on Wednesday.

Yes on the X-factor nymphs. When I get a chance I'll try to crank some out.

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