Blue River Fly Classic

Blue River Fly Classic
A One Pattern Fly Event

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Carp Crusades - Ol' Scarhead

Down in Charlie's pasture is a warrior carp we call Ol' Scarhead. He is most appropriately named with a half inch wide scar running from the top of his head down to the top of his mouth. He is a large beast and his most noticeable marking seems to add more attitude to this carp for some reason.

The first time Charlie and I fished his pasture is when I saw Scarhead and told Charlie about his existence. Later on Charlie also spotted him.

Scarhead tends to hold in the deeper water of the far bank. This water has seemed to become a safe haven or launching area for the fish. He lurks in this water much like Grendel lurked in the high hall of Hrothgar. However for Grendel, in the high hall lay Beowulf... waiting for the chance to take Grendel into his grip.

Will Charlie or I step up and become the Beowulf of Scarhead? Only time will tell.

It would be to our advantage to lure Scarhead to the level battlefield of the pasture, but, if we fail in this attempt, then we have no other choice but to go to the arch of the high hall. Once at the entrance of his high hall, we will pretend to be asleep, standing in the water in quiescence, waiting for the right time to cast our sharpened swords, and hoping Scarhead will pick up our throw down. If indeed he does...the battle will begin. Either Scarhead will rip away from our grip, or he will come to capitulation.

One of the goals of the Carp Crusades is to do battle with Scarhead. Anything less will be a disappointment.

The Carp Crusades - Friday's Fish

I knew there was something I was forgetting this morning heading out the door to work. My plan for the day was to work until about 2:30 p.m. then hit the creek for just a short while... long enough to look for carp number thirty in the Carp Crusades.

After work gearing up at the creek I realized what I'd forgotten... the camera. But that was okay because I've taken plenty of pictures so far and wasn't planning on spending much time on the creek today at all.

The only reason I'm posting this is for a record of memory since mine seems to fail me quite often these days. I require some kind of record to the events to call back on in future months and years.

Standing in the creek I saw a foursome of slow cruisers coming upstream. If they'd been road rage cruisers I wouldn't have even wasted time on them because it is time wasted. When they got within twenty feet or so I started casting trying to judge their distance and speed. My casts were falling short so I waited until they were closer. When they were about eight feet out a cast landed right in front of the two lead carp but it was too close to them and too far from the carp nearest the far bank. However, the San Juan worm ball did attract the attention of the tailing carp in the formation and he actually made a dead run for the fly and a sudden suck. Hook-set!

I've only had a couple of carp actually make a run for the fly and this fellow was one of them. He wasn't all that big of a carp... maybe five pounds, but he was one of the toughest gladiators I've yet to do battle with. Finally landed him and we said our greetings and so-longs.

Carp number thirty came to reality today. I push on for the ultimate goal of carp number fifty in the Carp Crusades.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Carp Crusades - Charlie's Pasture Carp

Fellow Carp Crusader Charlie Wright went a long time without a camera with him while crusading. But with a little prodding Charlie has acquired one. Heaven forbid anything happens to that camera while Charlie is a-fishing because if it does... I'm gonna feel terrible.

Here are a few of the gladiators Charlie has battled to submission.

The Carp Crusades - Nothing For Granted

Inasmuch as I live a hurried life; always rushing in whatever I do, I am forcing myself to a slower and more measured pace in the pursuit of the elusive and unpredictable carp.

When it comes to capturing carp on the fly, there is nothing we can take for granted. That white tee shirt on a hot summer day may seem insignificant but it’s the same as waving a white flag in surrender because wearing it while fly fishing for carp is giving the carp an upper hand right out of the box. We may think the reported super-vision of carp is over-rated but my experience with these creatures confirm their incredible sense of sight.

Sometimes it’s the little things that we take for granted like being absolutely sure we cut the tag end of a just finished clinch knot. Again, this may seem trivial but it’s not and here is a good example of why. I was fishing on a Tuesday with a Clouser pattern that had produced the day before, however the carp seemed totally uninterested in the Clouser on this outing. The Clouser was replaced with a red San Juan worm ball and I was sure I’d cut the tag end of my clinch knot. As soon as the worm ball hit the water the carp started showing interested but after watching six or eight carp come to the fly, go nose down and tail up, but then suddenly spook… I knew something was wrong. Pulling the fly up for a closer look revealed the one inch tag end of tippet was still hanging and I’m convinced that is what was spooking the carp. Six or eight opportunities missed for not rechecking a small detail.

Never take for granted that just because your standing on the bank the carp can’t sense your being. Carp seem to possess an almost uncanny extra sense which I have to categorize as an awareness of the fly fisher in the area. Seriously, carp can sense movement and motion and perhaps it’s in part as a result of their keen vision but also they hear quite well. The human voice, talking to perhaps a fishing buddy across the way, can send carp into a frenzied panic alerting other carp up and down the waterway.

The after-shave we put on four hours earlier has probably dissipated from our smelling senses but can the carp still pick up the lingering effects from our hands? Chances are they can. Anything our hands come in contact with can be transferred to the body of the fly tied on. If you’re a tobacco user most certainly you’ll transfer this strong odor to your offerings. Some of the more famous fly-tyers who tie carp patterns will not use head cement because they feel the carp can pick up on that particular smell. With carp having such a strong sense of smell, it’s a good idea to wash our hands in the river or creek mud before handling the fly, tippet, or leader.

You may be an excellent caster but never take for granted you will plant that fly exactly in the vision range of the carp. As good a caster as you may be always take into consideration any wind that will come into play along with the position and tailing speed of the targeted carp. You will immensely increase the chances of capturing a carp if you fly lands in front and travels across the carp’s line of vision which is quite narrow. Throw outside the line of vision and you’ll find yourself making another cast increasing the chances of spooking the fish altogether. Economy of casting is critically important - make every cast count.

There is probably a whole laundry list of things we often take for granted when fly-fishing and lots of times we can get away with most. However, when it comes to a savvy and unpredictable fish like the carp, we should take nothing for granted.

The Carp Crusades - Lunch Hour Carp

I am quite thankful to be so very blessed with all the water that surrounds me. Generally I don't take a lunch hour but today being so very slow at work, I knew I was close to a meltdown... so forty-five minutes was taken for lunch.

Of course there wasn't a cheeseburger involved in all of this but there was a San Juan worm ball. The wind has been absolutely incredible the last two or three days and Rock Creek is again one big waterway for a flotilla of tassels. Also, the creek has turned milky again which makes seeing extremely difficult.

I got lucky and spotted a lone carp in the shallows on the near bank and made a cast to him. For me it was a good cast landing about eight or ten inches in front of him and he was on it in less than five seconds.

After battling this gladiator I looked for others to joust with but saw few, and the few that were seen were hiding in the dark shades from the over-hanging trees and such. I did target one shadow being able to see the head of the beast. He turned and came right on top of the fly, but not being able to see his mouth I relied on Zen... and my Zen proved short today.

Perhaps my Zen will be better in the days to come.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Carp Crusades - From Carp To Crappie

Took a break from the Carp Crusades to go a-fishing with a couple of good friends. At the invite of my boss and friend Curt Tully, I along with another great friend Francis Rozzel with crappie fishing. Also, Francis's son Mark and grandson Justin went a-fishing too.

I say it was a fishing trip but actually it was more of a friendship trip. Francis has been waging a personal battle the last several months with lung cancer. Everyone involved is delighted that Francis is doing well enough to want and be able to wet a line. Now, you'd have to know Francis to appreciate what I'm about to say. Francis is one of the kindest and gentle souls anyone could ever want to meet... and he's been one hell'ava crappie fishermen for many years.

Our trip was hastily put together so we were ill prepared as far as gear went and Francis was hoping to fish with minnows but we couldn't find any.

The crappie were willing off and on as were the black bass in this farm lake. The water was quite murky today due to recent rains but not murky enough to keep the fish from biting.

Francis didn't have any luck today but his high spirit was evident as it always is. I do believe that it's his high unbreakable spirit that has allowed him to put the beast inside him to the side for the most part.

As Francis would say at the end of the day, "There will be another", and he is planning a trip for us to Cumberland Pool - one of the more famed crappie fisheries on the Prairie Ocean.

A number of years ago I got Justin, Francis's grandson his first fly-rod, but he ran off and forgot it today. However the woodpecker figured out a way to fish a wooly bugger with an ultra light and it was the wooly bugger that would rule the afternoon. Justin used buggers in black and brown, and I used black then switched to white cactus chenille. The crappie fishing was good for quite a while but then slowed down.

Francis tires easily these days so we ended the day after about three hours. It was a great day to be with great friends.

Francis is in the middle of this group photo.

My boss and friend Curt Tully with Francis.

Some of the crappie were nice sized.

The black bass were also active today.

Crappie, crappie, crappie.

Mark, son of Francis with black bass.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Carp Crusades - Today's Journal Notes

Arrived at Mother Hole at 2:45 p.m. Sun had been shining brightly all day but now tucked behind solid billowy blanket of clouds. Creek still somewhat dingy but much improved. Visibility is quite poor with no sunlight. Carp difficult to see, only shadows and few shadows at that.

Red San Juan Wormball tied on. Have only five carp flies to existence since losing box yesterday. A medium sized shadow is cast to and wormball slowly stripped to shallow water for better sight. Fish sucks, straight up hook-set, good hook-set. To hand, a beautifully fascinating young Mirror.

Hang wormball in ten foot tree limb on next cast. (SIDE MENTAL NOTE: Make homemade extensions for pruners to retrieve wormball). Chartreuse and white Clouser goes on, heavy metal fly, sinks fast. Cast to medium shadow and twitched in, fish sucks, straight up hook-set, good hook-set, big surprise comes to hand... a drum. Note: Drum do not have the power of carp but quicker in short bursts and acrobatic like trout.

Few carp to be seen, holding to far deep bank, same thing last couple of days, has to be something with cooler temperatures of late or barometric pressure. Ambient temp today 67 degrees, water temp 64.6.

Go to try and accomplish reason for flying for carp today - sneak up on carp in the shallow and riffles. Crouch low duck walking through weeds, remove hat thinking it's round shape is stark contrast to my slender frame. On knees near bank edge in thigh high weeds, see a carp plainly. Cast to him but miss going way too far upstream, he turns and goes downstream, wait, lift line out of water and over weed line. Cast again in front of him but ignores it. Cast again in front and slightly to his right, he sees, he follows, he sucks, straight up hook-set, good hook-set, in current, hold steady but must turn him from rocks and root lined bank. Comes to hand.

Forty five minutes on water, sun never came out. Wait for better day.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Carp Crusades - A Mixed Weekend


Charlie and I both fished for the carpes on Saturday and I guess you could say it was a banner day for the both of us.

For me the satisfaction came in the success of the white colored aquatic worm named The Great White Hope. This fly captured four carp with ease. One note worth mentioning is that all four carp were taken in shallow water and three of the four were taken with an upstream cast.

Charlie was down in his pasture on Saturday and he battled carp using crawdad, San Juan Wormballs, and the Clouser.

He showed me some pictures today of the fish he battled yesterday and they were some very nice, and I do mean... very nice fish. Hopefully he can get the pictures uploaded soon and we can share them.

Here are some of Saturday's catches.


What a difference twenty-four hours can make sometimes.

On Sunday, Charlie and I met at the Pasture parking area and begin our carp adventure for the day. A park ranger noticed our fly rods so he stopped and started a conversation about fly angling. Seems like the young man is from Arkansas and quite familiar with fly fishing and the White River system. He told us he never dreamed of fly fishing at Rock Creek and had never heard of Blue River. Think Charlie and I probably hooked him to picking up the fly rod while he's here on the Prairie Ocean.

Charlie has just got lined up when a lady came screeching into the parking area, jumped out of her car and said, "I want to talk to that man (pointing at Charlie). The lady had a request from her grandson in the back seat of the car and it seems he wanted to talk with Santa Claus before Santa went a fly-fishing. So Charlie put on his best Santa Claus imitation (which he does regularly I found out) and entertained the youngster.

Guess the young fellar wasn't all that sure about seeing Santa up so close and personal after all.

On the water today things seemed much different from yesterday Charlie told me. There seemed to be few carp to really target and of the few we seen they were mainly cruisers. I would hook up with one in quick order but quick-released that fish. Then Charlie hooked up with one and oh boy this is what I've been waiting for because I have my camera with me. I get one picture of Charlie battling the beast but then... his fly pulls out.

Shortly thereafter, Charlie hollers again and I grab my camera and rush upstream. Sure enough he has another dandy on and as I raise my camera... the tippet tie gives.

This would prove to be pretty much the extent of our hooking success on Sunday. Larry Compton joined us and Larry, like us, was finding the same... which was few carp to target.

Matters got worse for me however. Charlie had lost his Great White Hope that attracted one of the two carps so I said, "Hey, I've got another right here in this, ba, ba, box?" The fly box dedicated with flies for carp... all fifty or so flies... was no longer on my person. The only place I could've lost that fly box was right where I was standing because I had just tied on a fly from this box a few minutes earlier. We looked, and looked again, but no cigar.

Oh well... more vise time I guess.

So, on Sunday the catching wasn't all that good but the friendship was. Larry and I stopped by Charlie's Inn and had a good cold beer and some delightful conversation.

The crusades will continue shortly.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Carp Crusades - The Great White Hope

In the carp crusades we've had a lot of success with the red San Juan Wormball so far. However, looking at the tying bench reveals I'm out of red vernille or ultra-chenille for tying the red wormball. That left either white or black and since black would be difficult to see, white was chosen.

The question became would the carp take notice of an albino colored gob of worms? Certainly I didn't know, so I named the fly the Great White Hope. And today... it was put to the test on the Oklahoma Prairie Ocean at Rock Creek.

Did it produce? Oh, brother... just wait for the pictures and report.

Charlie and I both fished today and we had a very good day. Charlie actually had a camera with him and promises pictures soon.

Stay tuned.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Carp Crusades - Back In The Saddle

With a little help from nature, Charlie and I should be back in the saddle this weekend riding on the great carp trail of Rock Creek. We'll have our lariats in hand... ready to lasso the herding and sometimes stampeding carp. So hopefully, nature will let us cowboy-up, saddle-up, and ride once again in the crusades.

Today, I had pretty much set my mind to not go to the creek since it's been so compromised of late, not to mention this morning's rains. However, a ten o'clock telegram from Charlie reporting the rains had no effect and the creek continued to clear, changed my mind about fishing.

When I got to the creek it was noticeable that the fringes had cleared quite a bit but the main part of the creek, at least for me, was not fish-able remaining a milky color. But it didn't take long to turn my attention to the grazing beasts just upstream in the shallows and riffles, and these creatures were having quite the feast on tree blossoms.

Early on in describing surface feeding carp I caught myself, when talking with Charlie, referring to them as risers but carp really don't rise like trout do. Surface feeding carp, or slurpers as I call them, stay near the surface all the time and simply raise their bugle shaped mouths through the film and slurp. If you listen closely you actually hear the slurp sound they make. Across the big pond in England and Europe they call them cloopers.

To fish the shallows and riffles you almost have to be on the opposite side of the creek which requires you to make a painfully slow and methodical wade so you don't set off any miniature tsunami's which I assure you will put the carp down and away quickly.

The slow wade was made and as I got into position to make a cast there was a tremendous splash just upstream. I knew it wasn't a fish and upon looking behind me and up at the football bleachers there stood the perpetrator. A schoolkid had tossed a boulder the size of a quart cooking pan into the creek trying to hit one of those carp. Of course the carp scattered lickety-split. I decided to hold steady and see if some would come back.

Yesterday, fishing this same spot it was the same situation with slurpers grazing like no tomorrow. I already had a San Juan Wormball tied on so I cast it into the thick of them and one jumped on it like a duck on a June Bug. I got a good hookset and as I told Charlie it seemed like a rather good-sized carp. The battle was short lived and I lost another San Juan to another tippet break.

Today, I spotted that carp and it turns out he wasn't all that big to begin with... maybe four pounds and he was swimming around with that San Juan in the upper corner of his mouth. Really wanted to hook him again today to get that fly back but it was no dice.

Having a heck of a time seeing anything I concentrated on the water directly in front of me and managed to see the shadows of the carp. A toss of the San Juan to a shadow and leading the carp into shallower water I saw the suck and set the hook. He wasn't a big fish, about two pounds, but what a fighter he proved to be, making the old Okuma sing like a barber shop tenor. It was a lot of fun.

Tied a new pattern last night and hope to use it this weekend. Since both the Clouser and Backstabber have battled carp, I married the two taking elements of both and blending them together. We'll see if carp are interested in this pattern I call the Cloustabber.

The month of May is only a week away and I predict it's going to be one heck of a rodeo for two fly-fishers cowboying for carp.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Carp Crusades - On Hold

The rain of this past Saturday and Sunday turned the Rock Creek current of the Prairie Ocean into a beefy bouillon like soup.

Today, both Charlie and I thought maybe... just maybe, there was a chance we would find some clearing water in the broth and we could fish for the Prairie Ocean Bonefish. However... we should have just stayed home.

Charlie, went to his pasture and the Mother Hole was calling me. It wasn't to be though. There was some clearing at the fringes but the creek is still pretty much chocolate colored. At Mother Hole however, there were some feeding carp in shallow fast water. They were munching on dried-up tree blossoms. Not having anything close to imitating their present affection I tied on a white antron thing-a-ma-jiggy. My mere presence in the water put the feeding carp down right off the bat.

Charlie has acquired a rather practical and highly functional ten foot rod. It's a Grey, made by Hardy and yes it is their lower line but it casts like a charm. Charlie let me take it for a test drive this past Monday and I ran it through a scenario of casting situations. Talk about roll casting! Lays out as smooth as a baby's butt. Distance... geezzz, it will sail a mile. I love his new rod.

Charlie has a technique in mind with his new rod and it involves reach casting, or perhaps leader casting, and high-sticking. I think his technique is going to prove itself shortly... as soon as the dang creek clears up.

So, today was not to be, but maybe by Friday or Saturday we can get back on the crusade.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Carp Crusades - Almost Skunked Synopsis

Didn't get to fly-fish for carp yesterday and today could only afford an hour on the brew. Tough day... tough conditions... tough surroundings.

Time of day fished: 3 p.m to 4 p.m.

Weather Conditions: Bright sunshine lowering in the west. Lowering sun created glare on east side and middle of creek and shadows on the west side of bank.

Water Temperature: 70.2 degrees which is quite favorable.

Surface Conditions: Choked with tassels from trees (and the carp were surface feeding on tassels)

Flies Used: Cottonwood Seed (no carp taken) Black/White with blue flash Clouser (no carp taken) San Juan Wormball (two hook-ups - one early release, one to hand).

Presentations: Cottonwood Seed presented on surface but couldn't compete with tassels. Clouser was plopped and dropped with great failure. San Juan Wormball was targeted to carp holding in the partial shadows with a soft roll cast presentation.

Notes: One talkative school kid crashing along the opposite side of creek spooking carp like crazy. A kid of the creek... I kind of like that but he sure made it hard to fish.

The Carp Crusades - Gunslinger Or Fly Fisher

Sure wanted to fly-fish for the Rock Creek Carp on Tuesday but the gunslingers called. There is currently a Western movie production underway at Sipokni West Old West Movie Town and it seems they needed a bad guy... a bad guy that of course gets blown away by a good guy.

So, instead of fly-fishing I went to play cowboy. It was fun... that much I'll have to admit but I'd rather had spent a couple of hours fly-fishing.

Maybe I can get the film producer to do a production about a old cattle drive cowboy that just happens to fancy the peace of fly-fishing. Now... that would be the best of both worlds for me.

Here's how I spent Tuesday afternoon. Sipokni West

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Carp Crusades - The Smell Test

After two nights of Neosporin and Vaseline laden hands encased in surgical gloves, the hands felt good enough today to continue the Carp Crusades.

Today, the water directly below the Vendome Wellspring was selected. As the last outing would so prove, I would once again arrive at a creek serving as a vessel for an armada of tassels, being quite off-colored and blurred, and suddenly the sun would decide to step aside to mostly cloudy skies. None of these factors are good for carp crusading.

If we fast forward to the ending of the hour long trip I can tell you that two more carp were battled today. However, this report should also disclose that it was the carp of this prairie ocean current known as Rock Creek that actually won the day's overall field of battle.

For the most part, fly-fishing for carp still remains ambiguous to me. So many unanswered or understood questions remain. But like today... it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure most things out.

The fly that captured both carp warriors battled today was a chartreuse and white Clouser with a red throat. But... I must tell you that both carp were captured with a plop and drop presentation and within ten seconds both had taken notice and were on the fly. The reason I'm pointing this out... is why the rest of the afternoon went as it did.

It would be easy to say with the recent success of the Clouser that this is indeed the fly to use in battling carp. But once again remember... the two carp were taken by surprise or as I would like to think attraction. But it was the two dozen or so refusals with the Clouser that was so very perplexing. And, it was within the refusals that the answer lied. My casts would be, for the most part, two feet or better, in front of the targeted carp. Letting the fly sink, a twitch would be employed to position said fly and then allowed to settle to the bottom. Time after time, I watched carp slowly nose to the fly and within an inch... maybe two... suddenly jolt and turn away. This became a significant note to record.

The carp whipped my ass today... and that's all there is to it.

Leaving the water in defeat I found the events of the afternoon playing over and over in my head... and that's when it came to me.

Before leaving the bunkhouse today, I sprayed my neck and hands with insect repellent. With my hands I wiped my face thoroughly because those bull gnats encountered on Saturday were simply too much. Bull gnats are some mean little s.o.b.'s! Indeed I did wash my hands at the bunkhouse before leaving but there still existed a noticeable scent.

At the current, I took off the crawdad pattern I had tied on from a previous outing and out of the fly box plucked the Clouser with scented hand; tied it on with scented hand; and presented it with scented hand.

Could've, would've, should've. Yep... I could've washed my hands in creek mud, along with the selected Clouser, upon arriving at the bank. I would've done exactly so... if the head wasn't up the ass. And lastly, I should've... end of story.

So far in the early learning stages of battling carp with fur and feather, there have been a number of articles read that mention the innate ability of the carp's olfactory senses.

After today... I believe this incredible sense of the carp has to be so true. Use what nature offers you at hand. Wash your hands and flies in the skin of the waterway you're fishing.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Carp Crusades - Mission Almost Impossible

Today's trip to Rock Creek to battle carp would come close to a mission almost impossible. Even though the sun was shining brightly and overall a beautiful day, there was a stiff and brisk wind to deal with and the wind had also covered the creek with tassels from the trees.

About every other cast I was having to clear my fly and leader of tassels. The tassels also acted as a camouflage for the carp and visibility was poor to say the least. Finally working my way to the middle of the creek there was some water on the opposite bank that was clear of tassels but it was also in the shade so this would basically be blind casting.

In blind basting we have to use feel and focus on the leader. We feel for the slightest pressure on our leader and watch for the slightest movement in the leader. Two opportunities came my way in blind casting but two opportunities were also missed.

Downstream the water was sunlit so I worked my way there and cast the black and white clouser against the bank and watched a carp with head down and tail up suck the clouser in.

He wasn't a big fellow but still had a lot of fight in him and effectively unraveled the black and white clouser.

Next came the counter-weighted San Juan Worm Ball and this fly I could actually see much better. The worm ball drew a lot of attention today once it settle on the bottom. Hooking up with one dandy of a carp I walked him to the opposite bank in hopes of getting a picture but upon banking him he flip-flopped and took the worm ball with him. That was my last worm ball and barely have enough vernille to tie another.

Next came a yellow and white with red cut-throat clouser tied just this morning. This fly also was easy to see and as it sank to the bottom on an early cast a titan of a carp sucked as I set the hook. This carp gave the most remarkable fight I've yet to enjoy on the carp crusades. Six or seven times he made long runs of fifty or sixty feet. Finally I was walking him to the bank and only a foot from the bank he wrapped around a fallen tree limb. Still intact I reached down to try and easy my tippet off the limb when he spooked and took the fly of this morning's handiwork with him.

The black backstabber didn't attract anything but tassels and then another black and white clouser was presented but after clearing the clouser nine times out of ten casts I gave up to wait for the tassels to disappear... hopefully soon.

The hedge clippers went with me today to clear the entrance to the creek of the many thorny vines before Charlie or I, or anyone else, trips and falls or rip our waders to shreds.

Going to put the crusades on hold for a few days to give the hands a chance to heal. Weather and water cracked I find them bleeding daily. Too much fishing I guess. Nahhh... there's no such thing.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Carp Crusades - Crawdads, Clousers, and Fatality

Good times, bad times. No, not the Led Zeppelin song but the real deal. We've all heard of them, and we've all probably had one or two along the way. Today, I had one.

Actually, it was all good until carp number five came along. Trying to get a picture of this freight train in the water, I, of course had one hand on the rod, and, Miss Carol's camera in the other. I snapped the picture and as soon as I did, ole freight train decided to go for another run. Most certainly, I thought I'd slid the camera back inside my waders, as done hundred times before, but when that ker-plop sound resonated down the creek... it was uh-oh time. Miss Carol's camera expired today in a freakish accident on Rock Creek... an untimely demise for sure.

Upon releasing the fish I was done fishing and went to get a beer that I would drink in the park while trying to come up with an approach in informing Carol of the death. A plan was born, and with a belly full of courage I went home to inform my love I thought it time she have a brand new camera... since hers was so terribly out-dated. Carol saw through me like water runs through a landing net. "You dropped the camera in the creek, didn't you." she asked.

Thirty minutes later at Wal-Mart, looking at new cameras, I slid over to the photo processor and presented the saved memory stick from the deceased, to at least get a record of today's fish. Of course the clerk on duty heard the story of today's event, and the good chap suggested we wait twenty-four hours before acquiring a new camera because there stands a good chance the deceased might actually not be deceased at all... just in shock. In other words, the camera might actually dry and work again. I hope that young man is correct, because it will save me a Franklin plus heavy change.

The good part of today was very good. Actually, I went a-fishin' twice. On the lunch hour I hopped down to the creek to fish the area Charlie and I have been exploring the last couple of days or so. In the last two outings, my leader had been effectively... no, completely destroyed by close encounters of the carp kind. I decided to try one of Robin Rhynes furled leaders that I've had for years but never used. The only concerns with using a furled thread leader is water spray from the thread when these creatures are spooky enough. The second concern was the bulk of the leader and color. But... I looped it on anyhow, and added a four foot section of tippet which now made by leader system twelve foot long.

For the first thirty minutes of my lunch hour, all I did was spook fish. As I was spooking fish, Charlie shows up and I see him scouting along the bank. I want Charlie to fish but it seems he has other things to attend to. However, he keeps scouting and then starts spotting for me, but I still continue to spook fish. Finally, I see a patch of water located below some overhanging branches. The water is a mixture of shade with smaller patches of sunlit soup. I cast the crawdad into one patch of light and then see the pale yellow mouth of a carp suck it up.

It was a nice carp... probably about twenty-two inches long. At this point the lunch hour had been expended; plus more; I was fifteen minutes late getting back to work.

Getting back to work it didn't take long to catch up. The food business today seemed like a dead-zone, so my long duration presence wasn't required and I found myself back on the creek within an hour and half.

The main reason I wanted to go back was because I didn't get to try a Clouser pattern on the lunch hour. The first cast of this second go-around still presented the crawdad pattern of earlier... and it captured one small carp about two pounds.

Then the Clouser went on... a black and white with blue flash Clouser, a fly the carp could not get enough of.

Before leaving for the day, I had battled five more carp but one didn't count because he was a foul-hook. Honestly I don't know how that fish was foul-hooked because I saw him swim to the fly, suck the fly, turn and then I set. Guess I pulled it straight out of his mouth but again he didn't count.

In using the Clouser, if they didn't take notice on the plop and drop, I would start to slowly twitch the fly back to me on the bottom. These carp seem hungry because they would come to the fly on the twitch and the hook-set would follow.

Today was the best day I've had in the carp crusades and one note on Robin's leader. Once it gets good and wet there is no spray and after today's results... I think it's going to stay on the ole carp rod for awhile.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Carp Crusades - Natural Instincts

Yesterday Charlie and I discovered something wonderful to watch on Rock Creek within the community of carp. On Rock Creek there is a spillway system that owes it's beginning to the lake at the local golf course. Three years ago we had tremendous rains that caused the golf course lake to overflow and as it did legions of common carp flooded the spillway on their way to Rock Creek. At the spillway yesterday, there was a huge pod of carp trying their best to overcome an insurmountable obstacle at the spillway entrance in an attempt to get back to their home-place. Knowing the landscape and impediments of this spillway system, I knew that even if they'd cleared the obstacle in front of them... they would have perished trying to push upstream.

In talking last night, both Charlie and I agreed what we saw was a pre-spawn event rather than a true spawn and therefore we would fish these carp just like an angler fishes pre-spawn bass. However, if our conclusion was wrong then we'd be fishing true spawn carp when it's best to leave them be as they try to fulfill a natural instinct.

At the noon hour today the wind was brisk but didn't seem all that much so I'd already made up my mind to hit Rock Creek in a couple of hours. Upon arriving at the creek I discovered there wasn't a single carp at the spillway entrance which reinforced by belief that this truly was a pre-spawn happening.

Within the first five minutes of fishing I turned the head of a carp. As I set the hook and the line grew tight, this carp did a series of somersaults and snap my leader and tippet connection. I was using the same leader I had to rebuild last week using 4X tippet and it simply didn't hold today. The carp also claimed two new flies that I tied two nights ago - a crawdad with a San Juan worm-ball as a trailer.

I rebuilt a make-shift leader and tied on a counter-weighted San Juan worm-ball but today the carp seemed indifferent to this present. Next came a size 8 crawdad pattern tied mainly out of pheasant tail fibers.

Hook-up number two would come shortly and this chap would come to hand. I'd left my camera tripod downstream and had to snap this photo on the cheesy. He was quite the fighter for a twenty inch fish.

Another warrior carp would follow shortly and he too was a good fighter almost identical in size to the first one.

With each passing minute the wind seemed to increase and conditions deteriorate. Within thirty minutes the surface of the creek was covered with blossoms and tender young leaves. I was having to clear my fly of debris with every third or so cast. Facing the sun that was sinking lower in the west created more and more glare. Seeing the takes was becoming most difficult. I guess I could use all these factors as excuses but kept reminding myself that there's no such thing as a bad day of fishing and this is one of the truest things I've ever heard or read.

If there was a frustrating part of today's crusade it is the fact that I turned the head of at least a dozen carp. However, with the conditions being riffled, ever-glaring water, and a flotilla of debris on the creek... I simply couldn't see when the carp was at or on the fly... and I missed a lot of opportunities.

Hopefully the wind will lay low in the next several days and a return to this home away from home for the carp can be made.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Carp Crusades - More Of Charlie's Notes

Charlie has captured three nice carp in his last two outings and as I am writing this he is currently on Rock Creek searching a new stretch of water we discovered today.

The thing I like about what Charlie does is he makes observations and mental notes not only to use in his future outings, but also to share with others.

Here are Charlie's most recent observations.

1. The big ones lead and alert. The followers are less alert and often feeding. So go for the back of pack.

2. If they are cruising at a pace don't waste time.

3. If they are stationary they are looking for suspended food, so throw them your favorite worm pattern.

4. If their nose is down, sucking and moving slowly throw your crawdad or something found in sand/gravel.

5. The really big ones are almost untouchable, they know your presence early and move to far side out of sight and reach.

Charlie Wright

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Carp Crusades - Offering Gifts

Friday evening I spent time on the vise creating offerings or gifts for the carp of Rock Creek. I like to think of them of gifts but perhaps they are truly Trojan Horses and in fairness to the carp, "Beware of the fly-fisher bearing gifts."

To me, carp are a gentle and peaceful sort. I have to admire them and how they have survived when so many other species haven't. For the most part they seem to be quite social creatures, often traveling in groups or as Charlie puts it... herds.

There are times a group or herd of them will come swimming by in their tailing fashion and it's almost if they are waving to the angler with their tails. Waving hello and good-bye and I think that's really cool to watch. It's kinda like, "Howdy-do Mr. Fly Fisher. So long chump."

Saturday around mid-morn I decided to visit the carp of Rock Creek to see if any of the sort wished for battle. Entering at the east side low water bridge, my target was for what I now call Charlie's Pasture. Charlie's Pasture is rich and fertile with carp and offers a number of challenges for the fly angler to overcome in hopes of meeting a carp. Wading downstream to the pasture proved to be a big mistake with countless gallon-bucket sized rocks slick with warming water algae.

Eventually the island at Charlie's Pasture was reached, and it was here last week the carp were staged just like trout would, but today... a single carp did not exist in this stretch. Going downstream just a bit I found the herds and split the soup to meet them.

I started with a plop cast or flip cast which was no longer than ten feet. It took a lot of casts but finally a carp turned it's head and sucked up the crawdad gift I'd brought.

After bringing this warrior to hand, I decided to stay on the island and try to make some long distance casts to the carpes. Back casting here was difficult with a solid tree and brush-line behind me. If only there was just five more foot of back-casting would've been a perfect world... but there wasn't. I did hook up with another carp and this fellow was a steamboat. He would prove too much for my tippet tie. I hope he's still enjoying that crawdad pattern.

When the wind started riffling the water so much I could no longer see, it was time to move on and find somewhere with a windbreak. At the exit point... there was Charlie... trying to get geared up to go a-carpin'. However, Charlie had the cell phone glued to his ear and it seems that a guest was seeking lodging at the Sulphur Springs Inn... so Charlie did not get to fish. Before leaving though, he clued me in on another carp holding spot. I did check that spot and found one huge carp but spooked him right off the bat. Now, it was time for me to make the walk back to the Prairie Schooner.

Upon reaching the schooner I realized I wasn't quite done with the carp so upstream the call took me. Lost another crawdad pattern but this time to a twenty foot tall tree limb. Tied on my last crawdad pattern and decided to partner it with a San Juan Wormball. Gave that combo a cast and Holy Smoke a Sherman tank sized carp gobbled that wormball. Kept him on a good five minutes but then... another tippet tie break.

With only one San Juan Wormball left, and being half the size I'd been using, I tied it on and got two more opportunities at carp but missed both. Then a carp noticed my last crawdad pattern and this three pounder came to hand.

Of all the gifts I have brought to the carpes they seem to really like the wormball and currently I am tying up an arsenal of this pattern.

Other gifts they seem to like include the crawdad pattern tied in sizes 10 or larger, counter-weighted. And, the Backstabber pattern created by Jay Zimmerman also seems to be a favorite of the carpes.

Thus far in the carp crusades I find myself silly with excitement and wonderment. Perhaps I have grown to use to battling trout or maybe I've battled them for so many years it has become somewhat mundane. May the creator forgive me if this is indeed true. I will always love my Rainbows.

But carp are a huge challenge. First I believe they can see one hundred times better than most fish. Secondly, they have extra hearing capabilities and quite sensitive to motion or movement. Lastly... due to their gentle nature they don't slam a fly but rather gently suck it in which makes it extremely difficult to detect a take.

I think they are remarkable creatures.

Here are three things I've learned in fly fishing for carp.

1. Cloudy days are not good. Fish in the full sun when shadows are not an issue.
2. Be aware of what you wear and try to wear colors that blend in with the background.
3. When a carp takes notice of your fly, keep your eyes on his mouth. The carp will make a sucking gesture when he takes your fly and that's the time for a hook-set.