Blue River Fly Classic

Blue River Fly Classic
A One Pattern Fly Event

Monday, March 28, 2011

Carpin' Can Wait - Praying For Rain

There are two new Elk Hair Caddis patterns patiently resting in the fly box dedicated to the pursuit of carp by fly.  I say patiently resting, but, I could very well be wrong. 

Several times this past weekend I opened that fly box to have just one more look at the flies and it almost seemed like, each time, the Elk Hair's were screaming, "Put me in coach... just put me in!" 

Alas, they will have to wait.  An early springtime cold front pushed across the prairie ocean last Friday sending temperatures plummeting thirty to forty degrees lower than the days of the week prior. 

Springtime promises.

Spring on a carp creek.

The sudden change in weather comes at a time when there was warming signs of spring and a time that the carpin' seem to be really picking up steam. 

For sure, the cooler weather is most unpleasant to this carp by fly angler,  after being so delightfully teased by warming rays and fresh scents of new life.  Today, the temperature struggled to reach fifty degrees; the sky was a thick, heavy, dull pewter color.  Perfect trout weather... but, for carp... it's not so good. 

However, there could very well be a wonderful blessing with this cold snap.  Cold fronts in spring usually mean rain - oh, how we need the rain.

Currently the prairie ocean is running about three inches below normal in rainfall.   The streams, creeks, and rivers that act as the seafaring currents are in great need of some fresh inflow. 

The local creek that Charlie and I fly fish for carp is currently running at ten cubic feet per second compared to a normal stream flow of thirty cubic feet per second for this time of year.  Nearby, the river Blue is running at forty cubic feet per second compared to the normal seventy. 

Yes, we need the rain and hopefully it will come soon.  As much as I love carpin' by fly... I much rather have the rain right now.

There are a lot of good things we offer prayer for - rain, oftentimes, is a good thing.

If only Burt Lancaster could come back for an encore performance of The Rainmaker, on this drought prone prairie ocean.

Screenshot of Burt Lancaster from the trailer ...Image via Wikipedia

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Carp Redux 2011 - Catcher In The Dry

This fellow took an Elk Hair Caddis like a sipping trout would.

Today was the most exciting day of my fly fishing for carp life.  If only friend Donny Carter could have been there to watch the event unfold.  For those of you that don't know Donny... he's the best dry fly fisherman I know and his favorite pattern is the Elk Hair Caddis. 

Finding six carp sipping blossoms off the surface, I tie on a size 12 Elk Hair.  Only one carp is on the near side where I am and the fly lands about eight inches above his position.  He comes up on the fly just like a sipping trout would.  The hook-set was easy because it came in a moment of perfect clarity.  It was a beautiful experience and my first carp on a dry fly pattern.  Charlie took a couple late last season with his Thistle Missile, but, somehow I've kept thinking an Elk Hair might just work.  The second carp I cast too also took the Elk Hair, but, in my excitement I tried to set too early.  
A slud (slime and mud) covered Elk Hair in mouth.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Carp Redux 2011 - Life, Liberty, And The Pursuit Of Carp

Some countries that border the Mediterranean Sea are in turmoil currently in the pursuit of fairness and freedom.  The revolution seems to be growing by the day as the people of these nations look for relief from tyranny and insane rulers. 

This great country of ours had it's own revolution at one time and that led to the freedoms we enjoy today.  Jefferson drafted most eloquently the words life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Today on the creek I felt better than I have in some time and therefore I celebrate life.  Today on the creek I enjoyed a privilege known as fishing and therefore I celebrate that liberty.  And today on the creek... I chased carp and thus I celebrate the pursuit of this wonderful creature that brings me so much happiness. 

Good boy, good boy.

Charlie brought some new dry creations this morning that look remarkably like fallen blossoms.  At the creek I tie one on and give it a toss.  On that first toss a perch comes up and grabs it.  After releasing that little thief, I make the second cast with this tantalizing morsel and five or six more perch swarm it.  So... I give up on trying to attract the few sipping carp that are present.

Leaving this particular pasture, the pasture known as the Beach is the next stop.  My goodness is the moss ever a problem here - large islands of moss floating down the creek.  But, there are carp.  I quickly tied on a Crazy Charlie pattern.  It was one of a batch I tied last night for my friend Charlie.  Now... no association between the crazy part of Crazy Charlie and Charlie... even though he does seem crazy sometimes when it comes to fly fishing for carp. 

The fly seems a bit heavy for shallow water and the plop seems to un-nerve the carp.  Patience shows me a carp feeding on the surface in water I know is as much as three feet deep, so I deliver the Crazy Charlie just upstream from him and watch him follow it down.  The leader or tippet never move, but I slowly raise the rod tip and feel the pressure.  Hook-set!  That's the fellow in the picture above.
I decide to go to the bunkhouse, but once I get there Miss Carol tells me of her desire to go play bingo... so hey... I'm go back to the creek.

At the pasture known as Honey Hole I patiently wait twenty minutes or more waiting on sipping carp.  The cloopers are far and few however, so I go downstream.  Once again, the Crazy Charlie goes on.  I see four or five feeding carp in the shallows and even though I'm crouching they seem to sense my presence and leave... with the exception of one.

As it is with fly fishing for carp.. it's sometimes, or oftentimes, smart to target a single carp and as the Crazy Charlie sank in the water column above this lone carp he went straight to it.  He put up a really good battle for not being all that big of a beast.

It was a good day.  Life, liberty, and the pursuit of carp.
Crazy Charlie patterns.  I kept one to use today.
Carp number two of the day on his way in.
Favored the Crazy Charlie.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Carp Redux 2011 - Carp For Lunch

No worries here - this carp was cleaned and safely returned to the water.  No carp has ever loss his or her life at these hands.
Many times before, I've said the best way to spend a lunch hour is on the water.  Today I went to the same pasture where the sipping carp were having a time of it yesterday.  Today however was quite different in that there was only two carp taking the blossoms off the top. 

If I'd carefully thought and planned my lunch hour trip I would have grabbed the dry fly pattern Charlie brought me earlier in the day, but, in a hurried rush it was left on the workplace desk. 

The white San Juan Worm used yesterday was still good to go and there was only a couple of chances at the sipping carp before they would go subsurface for good.  Looking upstream, I see the fellow pictured above feeding in the clear, slightly riffled, shallows. 

The white San Juan landed about a foot above him and I took pleasure in watching the current be ever-so-favorable to this fly caster as the fly gently drifted into his feeding lane.  He was quick to grab the snack and I was quick to set the hook.

Appetite satisfied, back to work I go. 

Charlie's White Thistle Missile - promising!

Late last carp season, Charlie created a dry fly pattern for carp that looked remarkably like a fallen thistle.  Since the color white, here of late, has been a hot topic between Charlie and I and not to mention it's been working well too, Charlie brought me the white Thistle Missile this morning. 

Although I didn't take it during the lunch hour, it certainly wasn't forgotten at the end of the workday and the creation was given a test run on the way to the bunkhouse. 

Two carp did come up on the fly and give it a hello kiss, followed promptly by a good-bye kiss.  Exciting to watch unfold, but, then that big let-down when the event doesn't come to bear fruit.

Evidently the carp are feeling the trimmed deer hair and it doesn't suit their barbules or sensitive mouths.  Perhaps a little fine trimming will remedy the refusal problem. 

Charlie's latest creation certainly has promise.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Carp Redux 2011

Today, during the lunch hour, I stood high on the bank overlooking the pasture Charlie and I call Well Springs.  To both my delight and amazement there were twenty-five to thirty carp sipping the surface.  Most of the carp I saw were absolutely huge. 

The problem in fishing for these creatures during lunch was not having any gear with me.  Earlier in the morning I had traded the fair lass Miss Carol the schooner for her little brown pony, and therefore my gear was nowhere near.

However, two hours later I traded back and went directly to Well Springs.  Upon arriving most of the sipping carp had left, but, there were still six to eight gently sipping the fallen spring time blossoms.  Twenty feet from the edge of the creek I started duck walking.  Ten feet from the edge of the creek I was on all fours, and at five feet I stayed on my knees taking a half rising casting posture.

I chose a non-weighted white San Juan Worm as a offering to the slurping carp.  The wind was brutal at gusts of twenty and thirty miles per hour and it sent my offering everywhere except where I intended.  On about the eighth or ninth attempt I had adjusted enough to get the fly into the sight of the carp and a youngster of about sixteen inches slurped the fly and took off like a bat out of hell. 

It was fun, but, the fishing was over.  The excitement of the moment sent the rest of the pack a-packing.  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Catching Up - Some Short Casts

Sidetracked In More Ways Than One

When pony feed hit $3.42 for a gallon bucket, my inclination to hitch the ponies to the prairie schooner and head for the river Blue, at anytime I desired, pretty much came to a quietus. But, the price of petro isn't the only thing that has me, somewhat, sidetracked.

As of this past Monday, I took zero... that's like zilch, none, nada, medicines.  But... now I have my first one to take in what may very well be more and more to come.  It seems, upon feeling a little under the weather and out of my skin, a trip to the good doctor was in order and it was there while sitting on the examination table the good doctor expressed his concern for my ol' ticker. 

Now... somehow I've convinced myself that my ticker is just fine.  Sure... it's been fractured, cracked... even broken a couple of times.  However, in spite of these minor affairs of the heart, I think I good to go fly-fishing.  Although I keep telling myself everything is fine, I do plan on being a good patient and take to heart the good and thoughtful advice of some of my fly fishing friends that just happen to work in the medical field.  So... several tests are scheduled and they will be seen through in order to rule out the possibilities.

Besides, in a fly fishing sense, I would like to stick around a few more years to do what I love... because I love what I do.  And... I damn sure can't let Charlie down in our quest to learn more about the magnificent creatures, our friends, the carp.


It still seems a tad bit early for the carp in becoming active. There have been a few moving around, but for the most part the herds are staying close to the deep far banks.

Water conditions are making fly fishing for carp most difficult also. Lack of rain has caused most of the pastures Charlie and I fished last year unfish-able. The absence of stream flow has caused a build-up and blend of algae, moss, and fallen spring blossoms. This cocktail of nature makes sight fishing almost impossible at most of our pasture areas.

The only two pastures that are currently fish-able are Dry Gulch and Charlie's Pasture.  Speaking of Charlie... he saddles up from time to time and rides to the creek and captures a carp like the one below.  This time of year, Charlie calls his efforts the true March Madness.  That's crazy good stuff. 

Carp taken by Charlie.  His classy signature cap adds a nice touch.

Friday, after work, I stopped at one of the compromised pastures to discover the wind had changed and blown the stew somewhat upstream.  Seeing a few carp was actually a possibility, so a humble offering was sent into the mix in hopes of enticing the beasts.  The first two opportunities were blown.  Both carp went to the San Juan Worm, but, with the water being a bland green color, the relationship of the fly to the mouth of the carp was unattainable and both carp were missed on the hook-set.

The third carp was a different story because I could clearly see the carp suck the worm.  This particular carp went straight downstream and through a rather significant brush-pile.  How the tippet held out I'll never know.

Spring carp on San Juan Worm

The San Juan Worm didn't fare as well though.  The brush-pile acted as a barbwire fence and shredded the worm into retirement. Fortunately, there was another worm wishing for employment and said employment was granted.

It seems that young bass favor the San Juan also, as one intercepted the offering to the carp on the very next cast.  Although bass may very well like worms, I still believe their favorite menu choice is the crawdad like the one pictured below captured by a young explorer discovering the wonders of the creek nearby where I was fishing. 
The young explorer didn't call this a crawdad, but rather a blood pincher.  He must have had prior experience.

A Much Cleaner River

If you've followed these posts for anytime at all, you may have noticed one topic that has been absent from the posts of this trout season.

In years past, the subject of trash on Blue River has been addressed a good number of times.  However, if you look back to November, and the beginning of this trout season, you will not find one single mention of trash on Blue.  The reason is because the river is remarkably void of trash this season.

Granted I spent ninety-five percent of my time this season in the south wilderness area and it can be argued the south wilderness is not as heavily foot-printed by humankind.  But, even though I would agree to this argument in years gone by, this season there has been every bit as much traffic in the south wilderness as the main campground area.  The south wilderness has become quite the popular place to fish.  However, like noted, this area is well void of trash.

As to why the river Blue is a cleaner river is not quite clear to me.  I would love to think that the anglers and outdoor citizens that frequent the south wilderness simply have a keener awareness of the foot prints they can leave, along with a higher sense of stewardship.  Perhaps, it was a concerted effort by the wildlife department in doing a pre-season clean-up and then maintaining that effort during season.  Or perhaps, people just simply got tired of all my belly-aching.

I never enjoyed complaining, bitching, or bemoaning.  The tirades I posted about trash on the river are not indicative of what I like to share with others.  However, if all the groaning I can do at times truly makes a difference in ridding the river Blue of trash... I can serve up a couple more five course meals.

Truly, I believe the outdoor community has grown a greater stewardship, and in this case... a cowboy hat goes off to them.

But Then There's Rock Creek

A trash can creek.

Rock Creek, however, is a totally different story.  It's difficult for a man who basically cut his teeth on a waterway to accept the fact the stream has become little more than a trash can.  Three times last year, I cleaned Rock Creek and each time I did I very well knew that cleaning the creek wasn't the solution to the problem.  

The answer to the problem of trash on this creek rests in prevention.  With the exception of one other fine fly fisher, I just happen to know, it seems no one else gives a rat's behind about this little creek. 

The area that seems most affected is still the length of creek that runs along Sulphur Public School property.  I think the Sulphur Public School is missing out on a wonderful opportunity.  The school could adopt this part of the creek and take stewardship of it, making sure it is clean at all times.  In addition, they could then turn this section of creek into an outdoor classroom where students could explore the life of the creek and learn more about the relationship of humankind and creatures.

Perhaps a letter suggesting such is in order.
Easy to pick up, hard to prevent.
Too much trash on the creek.

A Brighter Picture For Future Water

Vendome Well at full flow.
Vendome Well at reduced flow.

It appears the National Park Service has placed their management plan for the Vendome Well into action.  The plan calls for reducing the well flow from midnight until four in the morning daily. This action is expected to save 108 million gallons of water annually.

Recently I was able to capture the reduced flow, evidently in a test run during daylight hours.  As you can see from the pictures above there is a significant difference.

The effort is a step in trying to reach a point of sustainability of the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer.

A cowboy hat off to the National Park Service people.

And More Good Eco News

The folks at Pepsico have been innovators in eco friendly products they produce.  They introduced the first compostable potato chip bag, and offer the Dream Machine which encourages local recycling efforts.

Now, Pepsico announces the world's first 100% plant based renewable plastic bottle. You can learn more by visiting their news release.

A cowboy hat off to Pepsico.