Blue River Fly Classic

Blue River Fly Classic
A One Pattern Fly Event

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Whirlwind Wild Day

It was wild!  Wildly entertaining, wildly fun, and wildly educational.  Of course, I'm talking about the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo 2010.  The Oklahoma Wildlife Expo is the largest wildlife expo in the nation and is not possible without the effort of every single employee of the wildlife department plus a lot of volunteers.

Pulling anchor at my prairie home at six this morning, I plotted a northern course.  The voyage was a short one, and there were few vessels on the sea-lane early.  However, once I navigated the Waterloo Road current it was vessel after vessel, and we were all headed for the same port - the Lazy E Arena.

The Wildlife Expo certainly catered to all outdoor enthusiasts, but especially to the young ones, which made this old heart feel good.  There seem to be a special emphasis on kids in archery and kids in fishing.  Both of these exhibits were packed with kids waiting their turn to have fun.

One of the most popular exhibits was the Taste of the Wild booth where they were serving up the food.  Lots of takers waiting in line for this one.

One of the more interesting seminars was a survival skills seminar by Peter Kummerfeldt of Colorado.  Peter could make a fire without matches look as easy as one-two-three.  He was an extremely nice gentleman and I enjoyed watching him offer his skills to the onlookers.

There was so much going on at the Wildlife Expo, I don't know if it can all be explored in a single day.  A hat off to the Wildlife Department for their outstanding effort.

Leaving the Expo, I sailed over to Bass Pro for some much need marabou, and then sailed further south to Academy Sports to acquire a t-shirt for my first mate Miss Carol.  Miss Carol loves her t-shirts.
Pulling anchor at Academy, my course was true to Rock Creek to see what the carp had in mind.  Arriving at my port town, I grabbed a cold beer and headed for the creek with rod and fly, and beer of course. 

Sitting on the bank, trying to get a glimpse of a carp, I was seeing very few actually.  Suddenly, I heard and saw something big and hairy coming through the woods. 

Bigfoot?   Nawwwww.... it was Charlie! 

Unfortunately, Charlie couldn't stay long and perhaps that was for the best.  He'd been on water earlier, but the carp were in cruising formation, and we simply weren't seeing that many carp today.

Charlie has created a new worm pattern made out of chamois, and it is doing quite well as you can see from the pictures below.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

More Trash Talkin'

There's been a lot of trash talkin' on the blog here of late and it's been primarily about that big, ugly, nasty, visible trash.  However, as all of us in the fly fishing community very well know... there is another kind of trash.  It's called micro-trash and a good example is those cut-aways of our leaders and tippets.  If these innocent looking tag ends get into a river, stream, or the wild, they can stay there for hundreds of years.  Also, fish and other aquatic creatures can ingest them leading to severe problems or worse.

I really like the products the folk at Fishpond make.  All of their products seem of high quality and designed for efficiency.  Fishpond makes a micro-trash container that can be fastened on the wading belt or somewhere else while we are on the water or trekking through the wild on our way to the water.  These containers are fairly inexpensive and work like a charm. 

For years, I've tried to discard my tag ends by slipping them in a baggy or vest pocket, but that's difficult and not very successful at all.  If there is any moisture on your fingers the tag ends tend to hang on for dear life.  With the Fishpond micro-trash container you basically scrape the tippet or leader off of you finger.
An alternative is a 35 mm film container.  Simply take the container and cut an X in the lid and you have a handy dandy micro-trash collector. 

Whether it's the film container or the Fishpond Micro-Trash Container, we can keep a lot of unwanted stuff out of our precious streams and waterways.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Carp On The Fly Catchin' On

Last night I received a most wonderful fishing report from brother of the angle Larry Middleton of Texas.  It seems that Larry has discovered the joys of carp on the fly and reports good success, which is evident from the pictures above.

Now, I probably shouldn't tell you where Larry caught this grand carp because he may not be through exploring that particular water.  I did ask Larry what pattern he used and he was indeed good to cough-up that precious piece of information.  Larry used the Sucker Punch and since that guru of carp on the fly Dave Speer (Longhair Dave) of the Dallas area created this fly, I'm sure it's okay to disclose said information. 

I believe we will see more of the fly fishing community turn to the carp as an alternative, especially as our prime water becomes more and more pressured.

Mucho thanks to Larry for sharing his story and the great pics.

And, let me go ahead and plug Larry while we're here. Check out his site at

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Artifacts Of Modern Man - Today's Big Bag Of Crap

It's time for this week's editon of "Artifacts Of Modern Man - Today's Big Bag Of Crap", what otherwise might become known as the Rock Creek Rant. 

Now, you can call it trash, garbage, refuse, or anything you like, but I call it crap - a whole bunch of crap!  Yes, I took a collection bag with me today and filled it with the crap from the creek and banks.  It didn't take long to fill, which makes me realize I'm going to need some bigger bags.

Oh, I get it.  Save money, live better, and toss the damn bag in the wild.
 Wal-Mart is the world's largest retailer.  If Wal-Mart would lead the initiative to do away with plastic shopping bags, requiring us to use reusable cloth shopping bags, then the rest of the retail industry will follow suit. 

It is estimated that four to five trillion plastic shopping bags are produced each year, and in the United States alone, we discard 100 billion annually. 

The proliferation of plastic is slowly choking our environment to death.  Plastic, whether it is HDPE, LDPE, or any other kind of PE can take hundreds of years to breakdown.  With plastic, it's a matter of more than meets the eye.  Of course plastic bags are unsightly hanging on tree limbs and floating down our rivers, but there are some other environmental impacts we probably never think about.

Some estimates have that the manufacturing of plastic shopping bags accounting for four percent (4%) of the world's total oil production.  That's a lot of oil folks.  Producing two plastic shopping bags produces 1/10th of a gallon of waste water and where does waste waster go?  It goes into our struggling streams, rivers, and oceans. 

The impact on wildlife is devastating.  Worldwide, 100 million birds and mammals loose their life due to the ingestion of plastics each year.  To compound things, once the animal dies and decomposes, the ethylene is released back into the environment. 

Getting people to give up the convenience of plastic shopping bags is going to be one tall order of business.  It will take a combined effort by all of us.  However, organized efforts to promote reusable cloth bags can begin with just one person who carries a fiery torch of the well-being of our earth.
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Rescue And Recovery


My morning on Rock Creek would start early and what a pretty morning it was.  I come to the creek today with three things in mind.  First, I must rescue two of my flies from a fate that is not theirs to be.  Secondly, I want to recover that chair I've been slowly carrying down the creek, and lastly, I'm looking for carp number 100.

First order of business are the two Carpola Charlies.  Above a bank on Rock Creek, dangling and glistening in the sun, are two Carpola Charlies just a matter of inches apart.  With two flies hanging in such close proximity to one another reveals that this fly fisher doesn't always remember prior or past mistakes.  You would think when I hung the first fly I would have made a mental note.  I did not evidently. 

I must free my flies, for their destiny is not to serve as a garnish or embellishment for a twisted, gnarly grapevine that has ensnared itself around a tree limb. 

The problem is the flies are about twenty feet in the air so a plan has to be hatched.  As any good cowboy would do, I grab my lariat - a hand-made lariat I've had for about fifteen years.  Next, I fetch one of Miss Carol's garden utensils that will make a dandy grappling hook.  Then, I create the handy dandy extended pruners to cut the flies loose if need be.  My plan is to grapple-hook the tree limb pulling it down as far as possible, tie off the rope, and then with the extended pruner, cut the vine freeing my flies from the manacles of these tentacles that currently have the Carpola Charlies incarcerated.


It took at least ten tries, but finally the grappling hook captured the Carpola Charlies black and olive and it came tumbling to the ground with a small limb attached.  Now, it was time to go after the remaining man.


Another twenty or so tries and finally the grasp of the hooks found the tree limb and the rope wrapped around.  There would be no escaping for the vine or limb and with a hard tug the olive and orange was freed.
Intimate Rock Creek

Rescue complete, it was time to go into recovery mode.  Going downstream a good ways, I walked up to the last point I carried that chair.  Slowly I've been carrying it downstream and only have about two-hundred yards left before I can carry it out at Well Springs.  With an early start and somewhat cool weather, I saw no better time than this morning to complete the task.  On my way back downstream I encountered another chair stuck in the mud, plus remnants of yet another chair.  I grabbed the remnants, but will have to make plans to get the other chair out.  Carrying the chair up the hill at Well Springs, the recovery was complete. 


Carp number 100 escaped me the other day and this morning I am looking for redemption. I'll be honest with you, the carp that would take me to triple digits did not come easily.  I snuck-up on carp, stalked carp, and stealth was the keyword of the day.  I fished carp that weren't interested, mildly interested and a couple I would've bet my last dollar were genuinely interested.  I showed them the Backstabber, but they just looked at it and swam away.  It was the same with the olive and black Carpola, and the black and orange Carpola.  At the Courtyard there weren't a whole lot of carp to stalk, but the ones I did... eluded me.

I sit down on a rock to ask myself what I was doing wrong?  But, perhaps it wasn't a case of what I was doing wrong, but rather a case of what would Charlie do?  Knowing Charlie well enough, I'm certain he would go to a white pattern or the San Juan Worm, and so this would be my next plan of action.  However, I wanted to try the olive and orange Carpola first, and the only one I had was the one just rescued from that grapevine ensnared tree limb.  I tied it on and go downstream.

At Mother Hole the water was completely milky or muddy, but I could see some shadows and therefore I cast to shadows.  Suddenly something caught my eye upstream.  I could tell it was a carp feeding in the shallows, but the problem was all the trees next to the water.  There were several trees and the limbs were only five feet above the surface.  I pursued this fish anyhow, and when I arrived at his grazing spot I knew this was going to be difficult.  A forward roll or flip cast was out of the question.  The only way to cast to this fish was with a back-handed side arm flip cast.  I took the rod in my left hand and worked it around the tree trunk where I took it with my right hand.  Dropping the fly in the water I made my first attempt at this difficult cast and blew it big time.  My second attempt was much better and the fly landed behind the carp's shoulder.  The plop of the fly was enough to make him turn and when he saw the fly he was on it.  Carp number 100 was a fascinating looking Mirror.   


Getting back to the subject of recovery, I was telling my boss the other day that I thought when I caught carp number 101, I would quit fly fishing for carp for the rest of this year.  As he laughed, I looked at him with a raised eyebrow and my own amusement as to his lack of confidence in my self-control.  Then he said, "You won't quit Shrader... I'll bet you two cases of beer that you won't quit."  Again, with the same raised eyebrow, I replied, "Why would you make a bet that is so easy for me to win - I just won't fish anymore after 101."  With an even louder laugh and more confident air about him, he countered with, "That's just it Shrader, you won't quit because you can't quit.  I know you too well!"  Then he extended his hand to seal the bet, and for the life of me I could not make that bet.  I knew he was right.

Early into the carp crusades I knew I was addicted.  Undoubtedly, I've been addicted to the Rainbow's and Blue River for years, but this addiction to carp on the fly is much more powerful.  I guess there could come the day that I can quit, but at best I will still be an addict - living my life in recovery. 

My goodness - I couldn't make that bet, and I could really use two cases of beer.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mixed Emotions On Blue?

Rainbow trout that was caught before and relea...Image via Wikipedia
With Rainbow trout season at Blue River being just a matter of weeks away, we should all be prepared for something a little different in the stocking program compared to years prior. 

Some of you remember last year the poll that asked the angling community as to their desire in the number and size of the Rainbow trout stocked in Blue.  Those that participated in the poll overwhelming chose, larger but fewer trout. 

Now, I thought that was the way I voted also, but looking back on some of my notes I discover that no... I voted for a season long mix of standard stockers and larger trout. 

One of the members of the BRFF recently had a discussion with Matt Gamble, area manager of Blue, and it looks like the larger but fewer trout plan is going in effect this season.  Ralph reported that Matt stated the first several stockings would be standard size stockers and the number of these trout would remain the same as in past years.  But, after those initial stockings, the trout will be somewhat larger, but fewer.

How this new effort is taken by the whole of the angling community at Blue remains to be seen.  If you're an angler that simply likes catching a lot of fish, then you may not like it.  But, if you're an angler that likes to catch larger fish... then you'll like this new effort. 

I think the only reason I voted for a good mix is because I see so many young anglers on Blue and I want those kids to have as many opportunities to catch trout as possible.  It's my simple belief that if they can catch a trout then we are creating future anglers for years to come.
Now, one option that wasn't available on the poll last year was... "More Fish And Larger."  I guess everyone and their dog would have voted for that option, but my gosh what a budget buster that would be for the wildlife department.   And... I remember something that Matt said to me sometime ago, "We don't want to make Blue, like Roaring River."  Matt is absolutely correct about that.  Roaring River is crowded elbow to elbow fishing and such a scenario at Blue would not be a good quality fishing experience.

It's going to be interesting to see how this season unfolds. 
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The Mystery

After work today I went to the vise and tied up a Backstabber with legs.  The original Backstabber worked so well yesterday, I wanted to see what the addition of legs would do. 

I started out at the Beach at Rock Creek and with a cast sent the legged Backstabber on her maiden voyage.  Less than twenty seconds after the fly pierced the film I saw a significant jolt in the line and went for a hook-set.  Under my breath I said, "Number 99!", but it wasn't.  It was a catfish.

After releasing the kitty, I made the second cast of this fly's life and another jolt and again I said, "Number 99!", but again it was a catfish.  One thing for certain was catfish liked this pattern, but whether or not the carp would buy it remained unanswered. 

I decided to go upstream to a stretch of water that is always dotted with carp.  There's not a tremendous number of carp here, but usually every forty or fifty feet you will see one, two, or three carp.  I was in total stealth mode today because I desperately wanted two carp so I could reach 100 battled. 

In the first fifty feet I sensed something wasn't quite right.  I continued to walk ever-so slowly, with each step slower and softer than the previous.  The sky had darkened and was overcast which give me excellent vision due to the absence of glare.  I'd take a step and scan the creek; scrutinizing water in front of me, to both sides, up, down, beyond, and then by quadrants... but no carp were to be seen. 

My steps became even slower, my breathing quieter.  Wherever I could, I would leave the water and take to the bank, even if it was for only ten feet.  But... there were no carp to be seen.

I searched ever so carefully 300 yards of water and never seen a carp.  My brow had deepened as the question of why dominated by thought.

Continuing past Well Springs, I entered the stretch of the creek that is shallow and narrow.   After a short while I came upon a slough with two carp feeding.  However, it was impossible to cast to them for the brush and greenery.  I continued upstream to Shipwreck at the Boulders.  Here, Charlie has caught carp, but I have not. 

There are seven or eight carp available and I cast the new Backstabber to the first carp of choice.  He looks and turns away.  The second, third, and fourth carp do the same.  Out comes the orange and olive Carpola and on it goes.  Across the creek are two carp feeding in the shallows and the Carpola is delivered to the nearest fish.  He sucks it and I set.  He heads straight for overhanging brush but I pull him out and he becomes number 99. 

The battle sends pheromones through the water and the remaining carp scatter.  The sky has grown darker and my hour grows shorter.  I need to be home and haven't much time.  I leave my slow approach behind and hurry to another spot in homes of finding carp number 100.  However when I arrive there are no carp at this spot. 

It's time to return to the prairie schooner and go to my prairie home.  On the way back downstream, there is good chance for a carp and I send him the Carpola.  He sucks it right away and just like the previous carp he goes straight for the brush and tree roots.  Quickly trotting across the shallow channel to the sandbar, I try to heave him out and end up pulling the hook out of his grasp.  The carp that would have been number 100, was not. 

I carried the plastic chair a little further today.  This chair is heavier than it looks and I can only carry it a couple of hundred feet before tiring.  So, each time I go to this area I work it downstream a little further and eventually will make Well Springs, where I can take it up the hill.

On the trip back downstream, never did I think of the carp I lost that would have made 100.  My thoughts were on why that stretch of water, the one that always has carp, had none today.  In my fly-fishing life, this question and answer will always be a mystery.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Adieu To Boots And Good Carpin'

It looks like it's time to say so-long to the LL Bean wading boots.  They have served well, but they're quite fatigued these days.  Both have lost their felt, and although there are felt sole replacement kits... my experience with those things is they never hold well.

I bought these boots at the same time I bought those LL Bean waders so many were doubtful of.  However, those waders have had 250 or so outings and they still haven't a leak.  The boots have actually been on more outings because I wet waded most of this spring and summer.  So, they have been good warriors.

It was a good afternoon for carp on the fly.  Spent a little under two hours on the water.  Started out at the Courtyard even though Charlie had told me it was murky.  He was right!  Real murky.  Decided to get away from the Carpola Charlie today since it seems like it's the only fly I can catch a carp with anymore.  First tried the Great White Hope and the carp ran from it.  Then tried the Red San Juan Wormball and the carp fled from it also.  Then... came the olive and black Backstabber.  I think I ran into a string of luck today.  The three carp I caught were all in the shallows feeding and all went straight for the Backstabber. 

The most interesting catch was the third and last carp of this afternoon. There were two carp feeding in the shallows on the far bank. They were about a foot apart. I rolled the Backstabber to the upstream carp and he went to the fly while it was midstream with six inches left before hitting the bottom. But suddenly he hesitated and turned. Recovering immediately, another rolled Backstabber to the remaining carp and he too went to the fly midstream but this guy sucked it up and I set the hook.

Charlie fished this morning and using his San Juan Worm battled two carp.  Here's the pics he sent our way.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Powder Puff Carpola Charlie

P!nk performing at a secret London gig to prom...Image via Wikipedia

I like Pink.  No, not the color, but that fabulous entertaining, Cirque du Soleic performing, kinda-sorta out-there singing female. 

As far as the color pink - it doesn't do a lot for me.  But, at the Walls Discount Center yesterday, they had a good selection of fly tying material at 40% off.  A package of pink shaded silli-legs caught my attention, and since we use legs on the Carpola Charlie, I thought... "Why not?"  So I grabbed a package. 

Now whether the carp of Rock Creek will like this color combination or not, is a matter of putting it in front of them to see what happens.   

We have used shrimp and crawdad patterns with shades of pink, so perhaps this idea is not so far fetched afterall. 

As soon as the creek clears up, I'm going to find out. 

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Cloudburst Fishing

Boy... the sky over the prairie ocean decided to open full throttle for about an half-hour this morning.  The rain came down hard and heavy, and Rock Creek muddied right away.  However, I still had to give it a try.  It was mainly blind fishing, but two or three times I could see the image of a carp on the bank fringes. 

I hooked up with this guy on the blind, even though I could see his tail.  I never saw him suck the Carpola Charlie orange/olive, but did feel him take off with it.

Now, yesterday it was Rock Bass and the perch that were robbing me of opportunities for carp.  Today, it was catfish.  The Carpola Charlie took both of these kitty-cats, and I'm beginning to believe the Carpola might just catch trout too. 

We'll find out in about fifty or so days.

Conservation - Rock Creek Trashed

In yesterday's post I stated that although I came to fish, I had another project on my mind.  The project was something that had been eating on me for sometime as I navigated this sea lane of the prairie ocean.   

Each spring, volunteer's and organizations including the Sulphur Chamber of Commerce, have a clean-up along the banks of Rock Creek.  It's a good effort no doubt, but as good as it is, it's a temporary fix and doesn't address the root of the trash problem on Rock Creek.

In the last month or so, there has been a steady increase in the amount of trash along, and in, Rock Creek.  Saturday, as I was fishing I encountered an absolute trail of trash from the top of a steep bank all the way down and into the water.

Now, I'm not trying to ruffle feathers, hurt feelings, place blame, or point a finger.  Pointing a finger is not needed because all we have to do is follow the trash trail.

Our school system is situated on the west bank of Rock Creek from Wynnewood street to Broadway, and unfortunately much of the trash comes from school activities.   

With trash bag in hand, I headed for the trail of trash and noticed a lot of red oblong things, which I had no idea of what they could be.  There was a lot of them.  I picked the trash up from the bottom to the top and at the top, was a mountain of trash underneath the football bleachers.

Carrying the now full trash bag back across the creek, I took a closer look at the red do-dads.  They turn out to be some kind of balloon.  Taking a closer look on the back, hoping to find the symbol for reduce, reuse, recycle, I find the name of this do-dad, which is "Thunder Stix."

Now, I am positive that the distributor of these do-dads never dreamed they would become the pure refuse they truly are.  These things have no value or purpose except to carry an advertisement.  And... trash up the creek. 

As I was picking up trash this morning, the idea that people call the carp a trash-fish kept coming to mind.  That label really irks me, but then I thought, "Why wouldn't someone call the carp a trash-fish?  Look at the trashy water we've created for them." 

As I continued collecting plastic, cellophane, aluminum, Styrofoam, and a roller skate and umbrella, John Muir's words came to mind.  John Muir reminded us that nature is a good mother.  Indeed, she is... but sometimes I wonder how good of children are we?

I know very well that educators and teachers are to instruct students, not police their every move. With that being said however, I suggest the answer or solution to this problem is therein. What if a faculty member, student, or yet better students, take the lead and encourage all students to become more aware of the effect of trash on Rock Creek. Perhaps it could be an eco/enviro/conservation plan or program, ran by students, and the goal would be to make and keep Rock Creek a clean waterway.

I picked up a lot of trash, but it was only a fraction of what is still there. Tomorrow, I'll return.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Long Morning Wade

A half-hour before sunup, I was tying on the Carpola Charlie aided by the canopy lights at the gas pumps. As I moistened the tippet and drew the knot tight I had a craving for a hot chocolate-coffee mix, so I quickly fetched one and headed for the creek.

I arrived at the south side of Well Springs just as the sun was breaking the eastern horizon. I knew very well that the creek would probably be quite off-colored since we received five inches of rain Wednesday. Sure enough, it was cloudy... more cloudy than I expected. It was tough seeing, but I could make out several images of carp so I tossed the Carpola to one across the way. We hooked up, but upon turning him the hook pulled out. Looking at the Carpola I noticed it was looking quite battle fatigued so I changed to the Carp Carrot.

In fly fishing for carp, the sun can be, at times, our best friend and at other times our worse enemy. This morning the sun was not a friend. If the cloudy water wasn't enough, the glare of the sun didn't help a bit. I left Well Springs and went to the Bend.

At the Bend, the water was even cloudier because the carp were mudding the wide pool. I decided to cast blind and missed the first suck of a carp. Going upstream I found more carp and would miss the next two sucks also. Finally I hooked up with the second carp of the morning and once again the hook pulled out.

Further upstream I saw a pool of water that I just knew held carp. It also held Rock Bass... a lot of them, and I kept pulling the little dudes out one after another. The carp that were in this pool moved out with all the excitement going on. The perch and carp robbed me of a number of perfect opportunities to catch carp this morning. Although, I came to the creek to catch carp today, I also had another project in mind. I decided to go elsewhere.

Driving over to the north side of Well Springs, I parked in the parking lot of Flower Park. Here there is a ledge that's about six or eight feet above the water, so I decided to sit on that ledge and see if I could spot any carp. Sure enough, in the middle of this pool was one big bad boy. Now, I knew if I hooked that fish it would require me to jump off that ledge into the creek. But, I just couldn't stand it, so I showed the carp the carrot and he sucked it up right away. And yes... I hollered "Geronimo" as I jumped from the ledge, hoping I wouldn't come away with a sprained ankle or worse.

I waded across to the other side where I could beach the creature, and he turned out to be a dandy sized carp. Now, it was time to start the long wade because my plans were to wade all the way to the Wynnewood Street bridge, which is about a mile.

I fished the big pool at Well Springs, but it was cloudier than most other pools. Continuing upstream, I waded a fairly long stretch of really tight and murky water with few opportunities to fish.

I make it to the boulders at Shipwreck and see a few carp, but due to the glare it's almost impossible to sight fish these creatures. I leave the boulders with no fish. Charlie has caught fish here, but I have yet to capture one.

Working my way under the Broadway bridge, I get another chance for a carp and we hook-up, but once again the Carrot pulls out. Making it to the pool where Charlie caught his nice carp on camera the other day, the perch keep robbing me of opportunities for carp.

Even the smallmouth get in on the action of intercepting flies.

I head for the area Charlie and I call the Courtyard, and this stretch of water is actually muddy. Spotting one carp in the shallows, I toss the Carrot one more time and he takes it. The dog-gone hook pulls out once again and sails past me into a tree. I just broke the darn thing off after having lost four fish to the particular fly. I have no idea why this particular fly or hook would not hold fish today.

It was time to call it a morning and I had covered a lot of water for one carp to hand. However, I said earlier I had another project in mind and I'll share that in the next posting.