Monday, April 21, 2014

Carp Campaign - On My Knees

One of our favorite pastures to pursue carp is called the Honey Hole.  There are three sections at this stretch of creek - the main body, the upper shallows, and the lower shallows.  Normally, carp can be found on each outing either in the main pool or the upper shallows.  But yesterday that wasn't the case.  It was completely overcast and seeing anything at all in the water was next to impossible. 

Looking downstream a 100 feet or better I could detect a most faint wake riffling upstream and that told me that the carp were active.  Making my way to the lower shallows there indeed were carp and the problem that faced me was approaching them since they were at the tail end of the shallows.  Standing on the bank ten feet above them I made my way down inch by inch.  At the bottom of the bank I got on my knees and knee-walked out ever so slowly to a small sandbar.

About 15 feet above me were two young carp eating to their hearts content.  A flip cast put the fly, a black Aftermath, beyond the carp I had targeted.  A lift of the rod tip brought the fly in proximity of the carp, a single strip called the carp to action.  His tail wagged, he moved forward, and then the gill plates flared.  The hook set was good and as he sliced through the water like a launched torpedo I watch the rest of the carp community suddenly explode.  The explosions were like cluster bombs going off underneath the surface.  It was a most wonderful thing to watch. 

 
 
 
 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

After The Aftermath

The carp are still favoring the Aftermath pattern primarily the one with the chartreuse body.  However, one with a black cactus chenille body was born and this pattern has taken the last three or four carp.  In wondering what is so enticing about this fly - the color of the body, the worm tail, or the partridge feather, I would now say it almost has to be the worm tail. 

Great dividends will come to the carp by fly angler if they have ownership of three things - keen eyesight, the patience of a heron, and steely sharp stealth.  Too many times have anglers not given their eyes time to adjust and find themselves walking past carp because just like the muckraker in Pilgrims Progress they are fixated on the wrong goal.  Crisp eyesight and stealth go hand in hand and the patience we must learn enhances both these fine qualities in an angler. 

The carp creek that Charlie and I fancy is in a bad way.  Currently the creek is choked with algae on it's bottom and tree tassels on the top.  Hardly a cast can be made without drowning the fly in some kind of sticky entanglement, which requires the fly to be clean with each attempt. 

However, carp to the hand have been managed.  But, it's been hard going my friends.

 
 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Carp Campaign Neglect

I have been quite neglectful to this journal and to the carp that I so savor.  There is more than one reason, but primarily my work-life has gone from a somewhat manageable state to an almost impossible one.  My time on the carp creek has been quite limited and coupled with the condition of the creek when time is possible has led to this great neglect and regret on my part.

I have been out somewhat, however, and those trips have been productive.  The Aftermath fly continues to entice carp after carp.  Conditions have made this the toughest carp by fly season this angler has had to deal with.  The wind has been absolutely insane and now the creek is choked with tassels that the wind pushes upstream into blankets.

 
Yesterday the carp were feeding on the tassels on the surface.  Upon seeing the surface feeding I was inclined to tie on a dry pattern, which would have certainly been a Stimulator.  But, the wind was howling and it would have done little good to try and get that dry to a target.  Instead, I took the Aftermath and targeted surface feeding carp by putting the fly directly in front of them as they sipped the surface.  The carp would absolutely dive bomb for the fly and suck it mid-column.  It was a beautiful sight to watch. 
 
My last four or five outings have been dominated by chop on the water.  The last two days the chop has been more like swells on this sea current of this prairie ocean.  It makes for a most difficult day.  The carp still somehow come my way though and I am quite thankful.
 
To get caught up here are some pictures of some of the latest carp and they all came by way of the Aftermath.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Carp Here... A Carp There

Capturing a January or February carp here on this prairie ocean is a rare and rewarding experience.  So far, 2014 has been very kind this this fly angler with both January and February carp coming to my hand by way of the fly rod and Aftermath fly. 

March 28th is the official opening of our carp season.  It's a date established by Charlie and me years ago once we decided to get serious about fly fishing these wonderful creatures.

Although we are still two weeks away from our official start date, I've been venturing to the little creek we have the last couple of afternoons. 

The water is still a bit cold for a lot of activity.  The big guys seem content to hold by their dens near the far and undercut banks while the youngsters come out to play.  I'm content with the big guys holding and the youngsters on the go because it doesn't matter what size carp I catch.  I like them all. 

Monday, I went to the creek about 1:30  in the afternoon.  The weather was sunny and there was a stiff breeze.  The creek is a really odd color right now - a really pale green and it makes seeing the carp difficult.  Since sight fishing was out of the question I simply started blind fishing to shadows in the creek.  Before too long, one teenager latched onto the Aftermath and I employed a solid hook-set. 

 
With that one carp I was satisfied and left the creek.  On Tuesday I returned to the creek at the same time.  Again, it was sunny.  However, the wind was howling this day.  The chop on the water was so severe it almost became nauseating after looking at it for ten minutes or so.  Once again, I was resigned to blind cast.  After what seemed like two dozen or so casts I hadn't even got so much as a love bump.  Walking upstream I could see the silhouettes of several carp across the creek so I decided to do something I rarely do and that is enter the creek.
 
Our creek is quite thin and it doesn't take much movement at all to push a lot of water.  Normally, Charlie and I stand at the edge of the creek and roll our flies out to the carp, but today that wasn't working so I went full stalking mode.  It took a long time to inch up to the carp and then an overhand cast was made.  I missed the first eat, but on the next cast the Aftermath struck gold. 
 
 
Again, this one carp seem to satisfy my appetite for a little interaction between this man and fish and I left the creek. 
 
Sometimes I like to just sit on the bank and watch the carp as they live.  I know that the flies we use, the rods the lines, the clothes we wear are all important elements when it comes to successfully capture these creatures.  However, I think our attitude toward the carp is all important and I will speak more of that later. 


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Trout Season In Review

Trout season at Blue River is slowly winding down.  March 31st is the official end of the season, but the bows will remain for sometime.  It has been one of the better trout seasons in my memory.  With that being said, a look back at the season is in order.

On November 1st, the opening day of trout season, the Blue River Fly Fishers held their annual get-together on Blue.  This seasons crowd was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, annual events we ever had.  Several new faces came to Blue and we were delighted to meet people like Deborah Noble, Michael Underwood, and Steve Wolf.  These new folk added to the wonderful weave and blend of our fly fishing family.  The food was awesome, as the fellowship, and we even got in a little fishing time.

 
On November 1st, we decided to take on the "Too Lovely To Litter" project on Blue River as suggested by Matt Gamble.  We needed six sponsorships to pay for the signs on the litter stations and in less than five minutes we had those six sponsors.  That speaks to the great stewardship that exists in our family on Blue River. Chris Adams volunteered to build the stations and in less than two months the entire project was up and finished.  I believe the message the litter stations send has made a difference in the amount of trash we find on the river.  The south wilderness is amazingly clean and even around Hughes Crossing it's difficult to find trash like we have for so many years.  No, the project is not perfect, but it's a great start in our effort to have a pristine Blue river.
 
 
 
The quality of trout we had this past season was certainly something to write home about.  The wildlife department presented us with some very nice presents in the shape and form of 16 to 24 inch trout mixed in with the regular stockers.  There wasn't any shortage of trout to fish for this season and early in the season we received a bonus stocking, which added to the inventory of trout.
 
 
The Blue River Fly Classic came to fruition on February 22nd.  48 contestants signed up for the event with 44 able to actually compete in the event.  The first one pattern event we had drew 31 contestants, and the second drew 37.  So, we do have growth in this event and we fully expect it to grow over the years.  The Classic was more than a fly fishing competition. We had a grand time, entertainment, fantastic food, and just plain fun.  There were some awesome items that were raffled and when it was all said and done the event raised $2600.00 for the wildlife department.  The funds raised this year could very well go to a project that could add a couple of more stocking points than we have now.  Nothing official, but we'll know next trout season. Scott Dittner took first place in the Classic, Dan Ham finished a close second, and Jamie Reed took third in a tie-breaker situation.
 
From left to right - Walker Hairston, Steve Swenson, Byron Dowd, Chad Yoas
 
Scott Dittner
 
Dan Ham
 
Jamie Reed
 
And lastly, the elite Blue River Redhorse Sucker Club grew by two members... that we know of.  This season we added Chris Adams and Dan Ham to the ranks of the club.  Certainly the membership to the Redhorse Sucker Club will continue to grow and maybe... just maybe, I can catch one of those darn things. 
 
Redhorse Sucker caught by Dan Ham.
 
 
It's been a wonderful trout season.  
 
 
 
 
 




Postcards From Blue

Not only is Dan Ham a talented fly angler, he is also a wonderful photographer.  On our outing Thursday of this week, Dan was armed with a simple point and shoot camera as he described it.  The results he produced from this camera was amazing to me.  Dan was good enough to share the pictures and I find them so good that I want to share them further.  I think Dan captured just how pretty Blue river is right now. 

Thanks Dan.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Squeezing Time Out Of March

Here we are in the final month of official trout season at Blue River, and many of us are trying to get every minute of fly fishing in that we can. 

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting Dan Ham and Michael Mercurio on the river around mid-morning.  Chris Adams was to follow later that afternoon. 

The river is so clear it's almost indescribable.  It's not uncommon for the river to grow clear in the winter season, but clear like this I've never seen before.  When fishing water with such clarity, we no longer can take certain things for granted - such as our movement, the shadow of our rod and line, and particularly the size of flies we select.

Starting out above the crossing Dan and Merc worked the east side while I made a quick trip to Scotty's for a cup of coffee.  For about thirty minutes before Merc and Dan arrived I stood on the bank having a nice conversation with Matt Gamble.  As we talked the wind kept channeling down the river and it didn't take long for my hands to start feeling the effects and therefore the need for a cup of coffee.

When I caught up with Dan and Merc they had worked up to First Falls.  Merc rigged heavy for the current at First Falls and started plucking some bows.  Dan was out of sight so I don't know exactly where he was fishing. 

I started drifting the seams and picked up about four bows, but it was slow if anything.  Before I knew it I couldn't see my buddies and figured they had worked up to Area 6.  When I got to a special little pool at 6, there was Dan with a bend in his rod.  The fishing had been so tough that Merc pulled a trick out of the hat and both he and Dan has rigged with a worm - a red San Juan... and it was working.

On the way up to 6 there are two pools of trout that could be called frustration trout.  Some of these fellows are good size and there is a good number of them.  It's the kind of situation that makes a fellow literally manducate - chewing the options that are available. Getting them to eat is another thing.  Merc begin what he is better at than anyone I know - drifting and high-sticking in a fashion that he can only do. 



After watching for a while, Dan went downstream and begin making upstream casts.  I think it was on his second cast he landed a bow.  Further casts upstream resulted in more trout trying to eat the worm and a missed hook-set landed the worm high in a tree. 


Before leaving Area 6, we met a new face to Blue.  Bill Lewis is from Alaska where he guides for Grayling and Kings.  He had been to Blue before, but doesn't know the river that well.  We talked for fifteen minutes or so about the fishing in Alaska and some of the problems those grand fisheries are seeing and then we left Bill to his day. 

Around noon we headed for Ted's Pool to await the arrival of Chris Adams.  Unfortunately, our meeting with Chris would never take place.  Merc was expecting a text from Chris, but his phone ran out of juice.  We know Chris made it because his truck was in the parking lot, but where he went fishing was anyone's guess. 

At Ted's Pool, Dan got out on the ledge and soon landed a bow, but the fishing was really slow.  I tied on my juju fly - the pink Frenchie.  I had tied some Frenchies with ice dubbing, which the original pattern calls for, but to tell you the truth I don't think these will fish as good as the rabbit fur I use - at least they didn't yesterday.  The rabbit fur Frenchie started producing right off the bat and before I was through, seven bows had come in the branding.

 

After Mercurio took a rather nasty and darn cold plunge at Ted's Pool we went to Horseshoe Falls to strip some buggers.  I tied on Chris's Bubba Bugger.  The Bubba Bugger is a wonderful creation and at Horseshoe Falls it was getting a lot of love bumps.  The Bubba Bugger managed a couple of trout and our time on the river was nearing an end.  Lots of midge or emerger activity on the river today and that's a hard situation to figure out. 

Dan wasn't just thinking about fishing yesterday... he was also thinking about the Blue River Fly Classic 2015 and has donated the first raffle item for the next event.  Dan delivered a dandy Cabela's fly rod and reel to go in the raffle bag.  I'll be bidding on that sucker.

As I left the river I put a note underneath Chris's windshield wipers telling him that we were sorry for missing connections once again.  Knowing Chris however, he was off plucking legions of bows from their watery home. 

At the end of the day the official Trout O' Meter showed the slowness of the day... but it was a good day to be on the river with friends.




Sunday, March 2, 2014

Discovery

Discovery can often be interesting and rewarding unless the discovery you make is that your waders have sprung a good-size leak.  Such was the case for me on my last outing to Blue River.  Within seconds after entering the river I felt my right leg becoming quite soaked.  However, the leak wasn't enough to stop me from fishing even though the way the afternoon turned out it may have been better if I had stopped.

At Desperado Springs, I fished along with seven other anglers.  All of them were using bait from what I could see.  Four of the anglers were on the east side where I was at and the other three was across the way in plain sight.  In the two hours I was there I never saw a fish brought in and I would only manage three myself.  And, those three came within the first twenty minutes - after that it was nothing.

However, I kept looking upstream at a fair sized pool that I've never seen anyone fish.  I knew there had to be trout in that water, but getting to the pool was what I couldn't figure out.  I left my perch at Desperado and went to look for a trail, which I found.  The trail led me to the pool I had questions about, but when I got to where I wanted to be, the water looked deep and I could only wade out a few feet.  There is fish at this pool and I caught a bow on the first cast.  After that initial bow, the wind came up and my roll cast simply wouldn't cut throw the hardy breeze.

 
 
This new discovery warrants further investigation and I hope to take fellow anglers, who are much taller than I, and maybe they can figure out a way to navigate this pool.  I stayed on the river about another hour and picked up three more bows, but that would be my day.  The new fish counting fish-o-meter, courtesy of Scott Dittner and Michael Mercurio tells the story.
 
 
Before leaving the area I stopped by and asked Scotty to deposit the funds from the Fly Classic and in turn write the check to the wildlife department.  Speaking of discovery, the Fly Classic showed us that there are a lot of good and fine people that attend and pitch in to help make the event a success.