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.