Friday, May 18, 2018

The Carp Fishery

Remarkable to study the various carp populations and learn the habits and behaviors of their constituents.  Some are very ready eaters.  Some stone my ass into next week with repeated refusals and spooks and ass-kickings.  Been torturous working through one particular water that shows educated big fish.  They spook at rod movement, at fly hitting water, at tippet in water, at movement on shore.  I try laying fly out way in front and then crawling across path.  No.  And then I switch ponds and fish hammer the LOD with flashing white mouths chasing it down.  Different fish and different environ.  

And then places within the various ponds and lakes systems...  I left the comfort zone of a small fish pond and pushed my way back to the toughest corner.  Which also appeared to be the warmest corner.  As soon as I got a clear look at the water I saw this female slow cruising loosely flanked by a couple males (presumably).  First time the fly touched the water she ate it.

17 lbs scaled.  Nice stache.  

April in the books.

1.  Caddis.  In consult with Winona Fly Factory we got on some good caddis hatches end of April.

Watching kid pitch dry fly.  He got quite a few fish using a simple EHC.

After training the kids to use smooth looping flips and rolls for nymphs, I had to reconfigure a bit and get him to punch the dry fly back and forward and then lay it out.  Good study of different physics required for various approaches.

He would have had twice as many fish to hand had he not bass-set on a bunch of them - pulled fly clear of mouth.  Pretty spots on this one.

HI water can be deep.  Kids like waders.

We were treated to notably larger than average dry fly fish.  Quite a few in the 11-12" range and some edging into lower teens.

Best part was that we used one fly all day. This piece of garbage dubbed body with a hacker elk hair wing.  No hackle.  They just flat out murdered it.  Sometimes simpler than we'd like to make it out to be.

We stayed in this old granary that the landowners remodeled into a simple domicile. Just right for us.  Markedly less money per night than a hotel which led kids to ask why we would ever stay in a hotel again. 

2. Streamer fishing old water

Few days later did some streamer fishing. Hadn't been on this water in many years.  My return was pleasure and also recon and study.  

Many fish of this year class eating simple black leeches.

The water was better than I remember it.  The flood of 2007 hammered it wide and shallow but it is recovering.  A lot of good streamer water.

3.  Afternoon streamer fishing favorite water.

Meeting down south a bit so fished afternoon.  Right before a big storm.  It got silly really quickly.

Second hole of the day; it's always the second hole.  And here is one two three every time.  Fish laying in the tail, in the head, and at the very top of the gray pool.  

Think I will just nymph in the winter and late summer now. Otherwise dries and streamers.  Nothing but drab streamers on this day and the fish were just dropping hammers.  Every little piece of water showed action.  

Often tie light streamers knowing I can pinch a BB at the head if I want to make it heavier in the field.  This afternoon fished probably 3.5 hours and it was >30 fish to hand with minimal effort.  Something in the air and the weather had them just banging.  I started playing tag after a while -pulling fly away.
4. tacos

Crema sauce that is sour cream, mayo, lime, cilantro and some other ingredients.

Made these for a number of people.  One guy said better than any resto fare.  A kid went home and told his parents about fancy tacos made with fish meat.  Pretty solid way to consume protein from the stream.  

Monday, May 07, 2018

Spring 2018 Carping Notes

Warmth was a long time coming but it did take hold pretty quickly once the ice was off some of the local pond systems.  First carp (in Minnesota) of the year was 4/22/18.  Dozens of fish laid up just soaking in heat units.  Not feeding; not really even moving much.  Some patience and finesse required, i.e. heron-dapping with a light fly like a San Juan Worm.  

I think this SJW was tied by John Montana maybe as long as 12-14 years ago.  

The Trouser Worm too.

Few days later found those fish doing almost the same thing. Not exactly same though because on this day I was there earlier in the day/diurnal.  So they weren't in the absolute shallowest water (where I'd found them previously during afternoon) presumable because that water cooled over night.  They were in the "neck" of that water - the transition from the deep to the shallow.  I think a really cool thing would be to have infrared imagery for some days during spring; chart carp movements with that as the basemap.  They were all arrayed there and I caught a couple small carp and then started hunting through looking for a bigger fish.  This one was holding steady by a log - no feeding - no movement.  Dapped a SJW; had to be right on her...   and she did in fact snatch-eat it.  Scaled at 14 lbs.

This fish was later- 5/4/18 heading into the weekend.  I have been long-acquainted with these carp and I think that I have caught a decent percentage of the population over the years.  There aren't very many; most of them are pretty big.  They are also very tough due to the setting.  I'd rate it as top difficulty.  Get stoned often.  That was happening on Friday night - stoning.  I take it in stride now; people change.  Good lesson with this fish though - I saw three big brutes moving longshore; I crouched and followed; put a fly on one of them and all three of them kind of pissed on it and soft spooked.  This fish did a 180 and headed back the other way.  It wasn't a particularly alarmed 180 but rather just indicating that she'd like to be elsewhere.  These reads on fish mood and behavior are often important.  I gauged that spook to be soft enough that one should try again.  I got low and basically tracked the fish down over approximately fifty feet, set up in a little window and put the fly on her again.  LOD.  On this occasion she turned slowly and curiously; swam forward and down and just settled on the fly.  From there it was a bit of a battle because I had my baby-carp rig (5/6 weight) which has no fighting butt (I had been using this for those little buggers previous days).  So it was a forearm workout and a difficult netting job; honest 8-10 minutes I'd say just because I wanted to be really really careful as I understood the size and quality.  Got her in the net and literally said aloud she will be 1-2 pounds short.  Scaled at 19 lbs.  I post-field-checked my scale on dumbbells of 25, 20 and 12 lbs. It's right on.  I really wanted this fish to be 20 lbs but just not there yet.  

The fish are in warmest water. I've seen carp in groups swimming together. I've not observed heavy feeding yet but as of yesterday 5/6/18  (got a couple small ones) I saw individual fish feeding.  I also found hundreds of quillbacks congregated; few bigger carp mixed in.  I've observed many many suckers spawning in pond settings.  LMB and panfish in shallows.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Spring Break Pics and Captions

Episode 1: 3/31/2018-4/2/2018

Brother and his family came down to join our marginally-annual time spent at local state park.

Easter dinner in camper cabin.  Four generations present.

Good to share special water with folks seeing it for the first time.  I heard this sentence: "I've got to remember to look up every now and then."  Right on.  Kind of a scenic place.

My brother said we should catch some trout; at a minimum his kids wanted to see me catch trout because they'd not seen one before.  My reply was that I would not need to fish; older kid could be the demonstrator.  He filled that role well.

Hooked up.

Working with his big cousin.

Three different guys caught at least one trout.  Made me pretty happy.

Notable lesson here, as the boys broke off a nymph rig after catching three fish from one hole.  I tied a streamer on for them and said now see if you can move a meaner fish with this bigger fly.  I think this one came maybe 2-4 minutes into the streamer presentation - right from the same water that had been pounded with nymphs.  Light bulbs going on.  Bro got one on streamer too and he got to watch the eat.

Brother's family had to head out.  Work schedule.  Everyone had been sick and had vomited all over hell too: on the stream, outside the cabins, everywhere.  Older boy and I pushed through and stayed as long as we figured was good.  On the last day we fished just the two of us, looking to throw streamers.  More lessons but in this case it was mostly watching me catch a high number of larger fish from hole after hole.  It was a gray day and a little cool and he had no guts left, having thrown up a dozen times.  He toughed it out but was not up for fishing.

Background showing a favorite type of streamer water: broken by head-sized or larger rocks, decent current and foam lines; perfect for quartering up and across.  Moving fish after fish.

Episode 2: 4/7/2018

We triaged some make-up days.  Took younger guy out solo.  He caught his 50th trout on the fly from the same hole that got him his first ever.  He noted that fact before I put it together.  I think he will remember this water well.  Nice spots on this brown.

In 2.5 hours of nymphing he hooked four and landed three.  Failed to discern take on probably 12-15 fish.  Which is funny: it's his personality; he's an easy-going dude.  Which will serve him well and make him better than me in that regard.

Episode 3: 4/12/18

Further make up, with older boy.  No nymphing allowed this day; just streamers.  Prepping him for Lake Michigan, at least getting the feel for putting streamers out there.

Watching a guy fish streamers seriously for the first time; reminder re some of the finer points.  Be at close attention at all times; this isn't "relaxed fishing."  It's deadly killer mode.  Fly in water, rod tip to river surface immediately; get tight and stay in contact.  Absolute focus is necessary.

I had him quartering downstream because it's easier and the fish sometimes help out with the hookset.  Ideally he would have quartered upstream because I am a disciple of that approach but it takes more attention and active participation; not the way to start for a younger guy.

He did well with it.  Ended up getting some nice stocker rainbows.  Good prep for bigger things down the road.