Blue River Fly Classic

Blue River Fly Classic
A One Pattern Fly Event

Friday, April 29, 2011

Fly Fishing - Closer To Home

In a post of not so long ago, I made the statement that the price of gasoline has a direct effect on the number of trips we fly anglers make.  I went as far as saying that we could graph it out.  I'm still standing by that statement and this morning the price of pony feed went to $3.84 here on the prairie ocean. 

Yesterday, I was at Blue River to have a look to see if the recent rains had changed the complexion of this sweet lady.  There was not a single camper; not a single angler; not a single soul on the river except yours truly. 

Stopping in at Scotty's Blue River One Stop, the store looked remarkably stark just like the river.  Not a single soul in the store.  In visiting with Scotty I learned this had been his worst April ever... and therefore I rest my case as to my argument. 

I don't know who to be more piffed at - those of us who have a love affair with our cars or the Obama administration.  Perhaps my disappointment should be equally divided and directed.  Not living in a glass house I will be the first to admit I can drive less.  Perhaps it will be a meager reduction, maybe 10%, but, I feel like it's a duty I bear.

The price of gasoline is high for two reasons - short supply and speculation.  The supply side is partially our fault, those of us who just have to get behind the wheel whenever the whim hits us.  However, the supply issue is also the partial fault of the Obama administration. 

The current administration, courtesy of the Interior Department, is preventing the increase of production in the Gulf of Mexico, while the EPA is preventing Shell Oil from producing in the Beaufort Seas and Chukchi sea north of Alaska.

Then there is speculation.  By keeping the oil in the ground or under the water, the Obama administration has become the number one speculator.  Speculators buy oil and hold on to it betting that the price of crude will go up in the future.  President Obama and his administration are doing exactly the same thing by preventing the opening of new oil fields.

In a recent address, President Obama stated his desire to end subsidies for oil and gas companies declaring that the time is now to search for alternatives to fossil-fuel.  Such a statement shows the Presidents disconnect with the American consumer.  Such thinking will do nothing to relieve the pain we are feeling at the pump.

I would hope as great as America is we can do two things at once.  Certainly we can open new drilling opportunities, which will relieve the short supply dilemma helping to drop the price of crude, and at the same time explore long term alternatives which many of us favor, including me.

Of course none of us want to see another oil spill disaster like the one created by BP, particularly this enviro/conservationist trooper.  However, this is a risk we will have to run to keep from wrecking the American economy due to the rising price of oil. 

So, from a fly fishing point, I will be fishing closer to home, fly fishing for the carp, bream, and bass.  No trip to the Lower Mountain Fork  like I'd planned.

Maybe I'm being too tough on President Obama.  I mean... how much can I expect out of a guy that doesn't fish, doesn't hunt, probably has never camped in a tent or chopped wood.  

Sure wish a fly fishing, oil drilling, alternative fuel proponent type of guy or gal would run for president.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Carp Redux 2011 - Fifteen Minutes Of Fame?

A week from this Sunday, Charlie and I will have our fifteen minutes of fame courtesy of the Oklahoma Wildlife Department and their television show Outdoors Oklahoma. 

Actually, we will have eighteen minutes of fame because that's how the segment is formatted.  Fifteen, eighteen, it doesn't seem to matter, for once the show airs that fame will most certainly vaporize like a fart in the wind. 

Now, friend and family seem to think differently and are urging me to convince Charlie that we should go ahead and acquire an agent.  You know... one of those agents that deal day in and day out with Hollywood moguls and television executives. 

Although I appreciate the concern of friends and family, I haven't lost that much sleep or worried too much about any possible film career.  I doubt quite seriously that the lads and lassies from Costa or Drake will be burning any cell phone minutes in trying to get in touch with me or Charlie about joining the Fly Fishing Film Tour. 

And, by some chance if they do and they want to talk about future film projects I'll have to politely say, "Well boys, thanks just the same, but, all I want to do is fly fish."

The Fly Fishing For Carp segment will air on OETA on May 8th at 8 a.m., and May 14th at 6 p.m.

Charlie getting wired for filming wildlife department video.

Still photo from action during filming of Fly Fishing For Carp.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Carp Redux 2011 - Charlie's Triumphant Return

Charlie hasn't had much time on the water in the last week or so.  Well... that's not exactly the truth... he has had time on the water, but, it's been with cane pole, worms, and grandchildren.  That's beautifully wonderful in itself.

However, he hasn't been able to carp by fly in the last week or so.  Today, he returned to the pursuit of carp by the fur and feather and what a return it was.


Singling out a rather large carp, Charlie sent out an offering in the form of an olive and yellow Carpolo Charlie fly.  In his report, Charlie says this big chap took the fly on the fall, which is always a beautiful sight to behold.

During the Carp Crusades of 2010, and thus far in the Carp Redux, both Charlie and I have tried our best to attract the attention of the sucker fish in our local creek.  We both have met with great failure.  However, Charlie reports that today two Redhorse suckers turned on the Carpolo Charlie.  We have greater hope now and if I know Charlie Wright, he'll end up catching one of those suckers.

On The Prairie Ocean - Knives

Knives hold a certain fascination or appeal to many of us.  To the outdoor sportsman, the knife can be an invaluable tool.  For over two million years now, the knife has proven to be a wonderful tool that often meant the difference in surviving or not.

Personally I only had one incident in all my years in the outdoors that a knife actually saved my life, so it's easy to understand why knives are so dear to me. 

The first knife I come to own came courtesy of my grandfather - he presented me with a Schrade Walden.  Next came a Case and then it seemed to be one Barlow after another - Barlow's seemed to be quite the rage at that time in my life. 

When my grandson Tanner came along he also developed a fascination for knives and so we've been picking one or two up, now and then, here and there.  We probably have around 100 knives right now. 
This is one of my favorite knives.  I picked it up at a garage sale for a lark.  It has some problems in it, but still I love it.  My favorite kind of knife is one that can be used in the outdoors.  A knife that can cut, dig, chop, and is easy to sharpen.

These are what I call "show" knives.  They're the kind you usually get as a gift and they are more suited to "look at" than to use.  We probably have fifteen of these sets in our collection.

These little pen knives have been with me for probably close to fifty years now.  They were handed to me by my grandfather and mother.  They are quite sentimental.

Everyone loves a pocket knife.  Sure wish I would've held on to every pocket knife I ever owned. 

A hand crafted knife picked up at a mountain man rendezvous.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Conservation - Water Footprint Calculator


The good folk at National Geographic have put together a handy dandy water footprint calculator so we all can see just how much water we are using and just how much we might reduce our footprint.

Water Footprint Calculator

Take the pledge today.  Even 1% can make a difference.

Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer Protection Efforts

The effort to protect the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer continues and we received this message from Amy Ford, President of the Citizens For The Protection Of The Arbuckle Simpson Aquifer (CPASA).

URGENT Action Required!

In support of the Citizens for the Protection of the Arbuckle Simpson Aquifer, Friends of CPASA has been diligently working with the aggregate industry to draft mutually-agreeable statutory language that both sustains the Arbuckle Simpson Aquifer’s sensitive water resources and facilitates economic development. We believe that both these things can be accomplished by responsible management of the Aquifer.

S.B. 597, by Rep. Todd Thomsen and Senator Brian Bingman, passed the Senate and will be heard by the House of Representatives next week. S.B. 597 removes a special exemption held by the aggregates industry and places regulation of "pit water" infiltrating mining operations over sensitive sole-source aquifers under the jurisdiction of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. It also brings parity to the management of all major users in the Arbuckle Simpson Aquifer.

Passage of S.B. 597 is vital to the continued growth and development of the communities overlying the Arbuckle Simpson Aquifer (ASA), Oklahoma’s only sensitive sole-source aquifer. Over 40,000 Oklahoma citizens rely on the ASA for drinking water. Moreover, the ASA is the cornerstone of the region’s economy. Tourist destinations, such as Turner Falls and the Chickasaw National Recreational Area, among others, together supply millions of dollars to local revenues. Additionally, numerous organizations, such as the Slippery Falls Boy Scout Ranch and the Falls Creek Baptist Church Camp, utilize the ASA in furtherance of their altruistic missions.

On Monday (April 25th), we ask that you please contact your State Representative and ask them to support passage of S.B. 597. Friends of CPASA understand the value of outreach. Making phone calls, sending emails, and posting requests for support through your social media to all your friends asking them to do the same will help us see that this vital piece of legislation makes it to the Governor Fallin’s desk for her signature.

If we all work together, we can push S.B. 597 over the finish line!

If you need it, here's a link to find your legislator:


Amy Anne Ford, President

Friends of CPASA

Carp Redux 2011 - Dingy Water Mirror Carp

I had every intention of getting in a lot of carp by fly time today.  However, Mother Nature had a different idea it seems. 

We received more rain last night and that's a good thing.  It didn't seem like all that much rain however.  Once I got to the creek this morning I knew my fishing would be shortlived.  The creek was as dingy today as yesterday, but the flow was down some. 

Seeing a disturbance in the water downstream, I snuck every so slowly to that spot.  In the shallows was a lone carp mostly hidden from my vision.  Taking a chance I plopped the olive and orange Carpolo Charlie in on his front and watched him.  Within five seconds I lifted the rod tip and felt his presence.

Ten minutes later he was in my hand.  This fish would not give up.  I finally waded out into the creek and scooped him up before he gave himself out entirely.

Since I was on the creek and on foot it made sense to just go ahead and wade downstream in hopes of seeing more carp.  Leaving the pasture known as Honey Hole, I waded through the pastures of Worm Pool, Shipwreck, Well Springs Pool, Well Springs Shallows, the Bend and the Beach.  This is about a mile of water and only two carp were spotted. 

That's part of carping by fly I guess.  If the rain holds off today, the creek should be more fishable tomorrow.  Hopefully. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Carp Redux 2011 - The Day After "I Do!"

Charlie has told me a good number of times to seek out the shallows after a rain.  Of all the fly fishers I know, Charlie is one of the finest and the one that owns the keenest sense of observation - he studies these carp like a student prepping for a test.

Early this morning, about midway between the midnight hour and dawn, a thunderstorm tumbled across this prairie ocean.  It was loud with bright flashes and brought rain.  It didn't bring a tremendous amount of rain; a drought-buster my no means, however, it was a much needed rain and enough to turn the creek brown.

I decided to take Charlie up on his advice, and like I should have known, his advice was solid as a rock. With the creek being discolored, I dismissed the white Mysis Shrimp from duty and tied on an olive and orange Carpolo Charlie. Within thirty minutes I had battled and brought to submission three carp... including two of those fascinating looking Mirror carp.

It may be my imagination, but, Mirror carp seem to have more spunk than the Common carp does.  The Mirror just never quit and make run after run.  Sometimes I have to simply bulldog these Mirror carp and beach them.

Today the carping by fly was a mixture of sight fishing and blind fishing at the same time.  The creek wasn't dingy to the point the image of the carp couldn't be made, but, once the fly pierced the surface it was gone from sight.  I depended on the behavior of the carp to know when it was time to set the hook and if the creatures suddenly moved forward and stopped, or gills flared... I went for the hook-set.  This practice worked like a charm. 
First Mirror of the day.

Fascinating looking Mirror.

Fishing today was a total muddy mess.  The usual structure of felled trees and root balls were certainly present and today there were additional tree limbs that had been washed down the creek.  How the fish and I came through all that without a break-off amazes me.  Although it was fun, it was a work-out and in the end my rod was dirty, the reel was dirty, I was dirty, and the Carpolo Charlie looked like it had been through a meat grinder.
Speaking of Charlie again, I think he come up with the perfect coinage about fly fishing for carp.  In a dispatch I received from Charlie last year in regards to fly fishing for carp, Charlie said, "This ain't pretty fishing."  Charlie my friend, you're absolutely correct - this is sometimes down and dirty in the trenches fishing. 
It's not pretty fishing.

While I was having fun battling the carp, I didn't realize the creek was on the rise.  It wasn't a threatening rise or anything like that.  However, within another thirty minutes the creek had become unfishable, discoloring even more with a significant increase in flow. 

I gave thanks and left the creek. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Marriage Vows And Carp

Yesterday afternoon, carp numbers eighteen and nineteen came to hand.  One fell for the Mysis Shrimp - the other for the Curvy Crazy Charlie in white and silver. 

Today, Carol and I are to marry at 11 o'clock.  At 8 o'clock this morning I had carp number twenty of this season on the reel.... courtesy of the Mysis Shrimp.  About thirty minutes later, number twenty-one and I said hello, and, yes it was the Mysis that did the dirty work. 

Carol and I have known each other for forty years and we are indeed best friends.  So, it is past time to make our relationship "official" and get hitched and stitched.

Now, for a honeymoon... it was Carol, not me, that suggested camping at our beloved Blue River.  I swear to you this is the absolute truth - it was Carol's idea.  Of course I hopped on that suggestion like a duck on a June bug. 

But, we had nearby storms last night and the sky is threatening today.  Our camp-out honeymoon trip will be delayed.  Sunday and Monday also looks stormy, but we both have a week off and we'll get to Blue sometime this week.

I am so very thankful that both of us share a lifetime love for the outdoors.

Since we can't get to the river Blue and start the honeymoon, we made other plans.  Carol loves Red Lobster and I like Bass Pro, so a trip to Oklahoma City, leaving our rural settlement behind, will be made after the ceremony.

I do need to get some more material to tie more Crazy Charlie's and Mysis Shrimp. 

Preacher just called and he's getting ready.  Guess I better get out of these waders.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Earth Day 201

April 22nd is Earth Day 2011.  Celebrate by using less, recycling, driving one less mile, and planting a tree. 

Earth Day. 

Feathercraft Easter Offer

The guys and gals in St. Louis don't rest when it comes to promotions for the fly fishing crowd.

Check out their latest offer to all of us who prescribe to the fur and feather. 
Feathercraft Save Big Easter Weekend.

Coleman Camping Gear And Lodge Cast Iron

Here on the prairie ocean Coleman camping gear and Lodge Cast Iron have been my favorite camping and cookware for many years now.

Over the years I've slowly collected Coleman lanterns and Lodge Dutch cast iron and wouldn't take love nor money for any of my pieces.

Coleman is offering a promotion in celebration of Earth Day and it's good for 10% off of purchases from  So if you've been thinking about some new camping or backpacking gear then now is a good time to have a look at this promotion. 

Lodge is running a promotion for spring savings and it's just in time for graduation and Mother's Day.  This promotion is good for 20% off of selected items.  Visit Lodge for more details.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Going Dutch On The Prairie Ocean

"Fly fishing has led to a greater enjoyment of the outdoor life."


To prepare this wonderful "other white meat" dish you will need:

4 boneless pork chops
1 jar Lawry's Caribbean Jerk 30 minute marinade
1 lb. fresh spring asparagus
12 "B" size new potatoes
1 pkg. Christopher Ranch Peeled Pearl Onions
Olive oil
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Lawry's Seasoned Salt
Worcestershire Sauce


Cut asparagus to spears about four inches long.  Place enough olive oil and a healthy dash of Worcestershire sauce in shallow dish to coat asparagus.  Roll asparagus in olive oil then sprinkle with Lawry's seasoned salt and Parmesan cheese.  Set aside.
Thirty minutes before cooking time, submerge chops in Lawry's Caribbean Jerk Marinade and place in refrigerator.

In a two quart, or better, sauce pan place new potatoes and cover with water.  You will par-boil potatoes until first sign of tenderness (usually about 10 minutes after they come to boil).  Once par-boiled, remove, drain, and set aside.

Ten minutes after beginning to marinade chops begin your charcoal.  You will need 22 briquet's.

Five minutes before your 30 minute marinading time is up, place 8 coals on bottom and 14 on top of your Dutch oven to preheat oven.

When marinading time is up, place chops in Dutch in a shingled fashion.  Between each chop place five or six asparagus spears.  On each side of the chops place the new potatoes and pearl onions in a mixed style.

You will cook this recipe for 45 minutes*.

*Most certainly we want pork to be cooked thoroughly, however we must be careful not to overcook pork... it's a rather tender meat.

Everything in this dish is rather tasty, but the centerpiece of flavor rests in the Caribbean Jerk Chops... and they are surprisingly tender.

Caribbean Jerk Chops ready to be cooked.

Caribbean Jerk Chops done.

With the correct temperature distribution the asparagus will reach that perfect point of firmness and tenderness. 

Carp Redux 2011 - Curvy Crazy Charlie Strikes Again

This weather is friggin' crazy.  Monday it was 94 degrees here on the prairie ocean, and this morning it was forty-five.  Today there wasn't a hint of sun, but I did get on the creek a couple of hours earlier than yesterday.

With the same Curvy Crazy Charlie in white and silver I hooked up with the first carp of the day, but the hook point didn't hold.  Going upstream I come to the pasture we call the Courtyard.  The bank at the Courtyard is a good ten or twelve feet above the water.  Here in the creek was one lone carp feeding.  In order to get my offering to him I had to make a side arm forward cast and luckily the fly landed about a foot in front of him.  He slowly came to the fly and the hook-set held this time.

My regular six weight carp rod is out of action so I've been using a five weight.  You wouldn't think there would be much difference in the two, but it's been a chore getting some of these beasts to hand.

Charlie and I will begin exploring another possible carp fishery soon and we have high hopes for this new adventure. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Carp Redux 2011 - Timing For Carp

Opportunities to get on the local carp creek have been few here of late.  It seems there have been a number of distractions, besides the wind, that have kept me from the water.

Yes, the wind was still howling today, but, I had it in my mind to go anyway.  Almost blew my opportunity today by taking a siesta and not getting on the creek until 5 p.m.  During the month of April here on the prairie ocean, time of day is crucial to improving chances of capturing a carp.  At five this afternoon the sun already started to shade the creek because of the canopy of trees along both banks.  Trying to see carp in shaded water is difficult on it's own.  Then if you take off-colored water within the shade... you really have a challenge in front of you. 

I was able to find one lone carp feeding in shallow, clear, and somewhat fast water.  Showed the fellow the Curved Charlie in white and silver and he gobbled it.

I know everyone is tired of hearing me belly-ache about the wind, and I'm darn tired of hearing myself belly-ached about the wind, but... this is ridiculous!  We are going on thirty days of strong winds and I'm not dramatizing this wind we have.

Look what simple straight line winds did to the trees last Friday.  

Granted this old cottonwood had seen better days, but still it would take a pretty good gust to bring it down.  The wind didn't just pick on old trees but young ones too, like the fully leafed tree below that was broken at it's base. 
Our carp creek continues to struggle and we are currently five inches below normal in rain.  Hopefully the rain will come soon. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Korker's Limited Edition Darkness Chrome Boots From Feathercraft

Received notice today from those purveyors of fine fur, feather, and gear - Feathercraft, of a special offer on the highly sought after Darkness Chrome wading boot from Korkers.

This boot was originally intended only for professional guides and industry people but due to the popularity of the Chrome boot and short supplies, Korkers has release 400 pair of the Darkness.  Feathercraft has a limited supply so if you just have to own a pair of these beauties you better act fast.

Get on the details from Feathercraft on the "Limited Edition Darkness".

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Going Dutch On The Prairie Ocean

"Fly fishing has led to a greater enjoyment of the outdoor life."

Roasted Potatoes, Red Onion And Sweet Mini Peppers

As a side tonight we decided to prepare a roasted potato dish in the Dutch oven.  Very simple to do and here is what you will need.

For a serving of four you will need:

3 medium sized Russet potatoes quartered.
1 medium sweet red onion wedged.
12 sweet mini peppers with stem end removed.

Combine ingredients in mixing bowl with 1/4 cup of olive oil and a healthy portion of Worcestershire sauce.  Toss well.

Place in preheated Dutch and place 8 coals on bottom and 14 on top.  Total baking time is one hour, however ten minutes before dish is done lift lid and sprinkle with pepper, garlic salt, parsley, thyme, and oregano. 


Roasted Potato side ready to go.
Roasted potato side ready to serve.

Oklahoma Trout River Faces Trouble

There are only two year round trout fisheries in Oklahoma and currently one is fighting for survival. 

As it usually goes, nature, wildlife, and the outdoor enthusiast are taking a back seat to the interest of others, but in this case there are those that are taking up the fight.

As Scott Hood, president of both the Oklahoma Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Tulsa Flyfishers, states, "No one should be allowed to de-water a river."  Hood is talking about the Lower Illinois river near Gore, Oklahoma.  The Lower Illinois serves as a year round trout fishery and is also a popular striper designation.

The Lower Illinois is home to the Oklahoma state record striper bass and Rainbow trout.  What a shame it would be to loose this scenic river.  

Read the full article on the Ed Godfrey's Outdoor section in the Sunday Oklahoman.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Carp Redux 2011 - Panfish Pandemic

Just as I sit down to record this journal entry, the tornado sirens begin screaming here on the prairie ocean.  This is Oklahoma, and during the spring tornado activity is common... so I've never concerned myself with the warnings.  However, the sirens are relentless and Miss Carol is growing nutso, quite concerned I should say, so I abandon this scrawling for a short while.  Besides, there are two elderly ladies across the street and I learn the man of the house is away and attention is needed there.  Miss Carol grabs her companion dog Sadie, and along with my son Kemper we get the heavy cellar door open and get the three ladies in the hole.  Lanterns are lit, flashlights are tested, and Kemper decides to stand guard over the door.  I come back to the laptop.

Right now, the wind-wrapped rain is falling heavily and there is hail within the sheets.  The only reason I am mentioning this spring storm is to illustrate the strong winds my friend and fellow fly fisher for carp, Charlie, and I have had to endure. 

This afternoon on the creek, the wind was gusting twenty to thirty miles per hour creating blurring riffles.  The wind, however, wasn't the only obstacle today.  The tremendous algae buildup is still present, and then there is the panfish pandemic of this season.  They're everywhere, everywhere!

This spring there is a tremendous presence of new birth in the panfish community on the local creek.  For the last four, five, or maybe six years, the panfish community has struggled, but, now they are back in good numbers.  That's a good thing though - everyone loves the panfish with their gusto in giving as good as they get, along with their attached attitude as they spit at you while you're trying to remove the hook from their lip.

Panfish are the pirates of the prairie ocean when it comes to fly fishing for carp.  As soon as the fly penetrates the drink, an angler can almost hear the collective swoosh of the panfish rushing to the fly, which I might add scares the carp... particularly targeted carp.

I caught two carp today by going blind.  Both carp were taken on the Mysis Shrimp pattern in white while blind fishing.  The battles of today prove to me that when conditions such as off-colored, blurred, heavy riffled water prevent an angler from sight fishing... you simply toss the fly.

As bad as conditions were today, I could still make out the images of carp in the water.  So the strategy was to cast the fly above and near the carp and then do nothing but watch the tippet.  When fishing blind the attention has to be on the tippet.  The movement of the tippet is usually rather significant, and in both cases today... it was.

The storm just passed and we received a good rain.  I doubt it was enough, however, to give the local creek a good flushing, which would tremendously improve carp via fly.    

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Carp Redux 2011 - Crazy Charlie Reincarnated

Since my favorite Crazy Charlie fly gave his life at sea yesterday, a little vise time was dedicated last night and a new white holographic with peacock underbody Charlie came to life.

At 7:59 this morning I clocked out at work telling my co-workers I'd be on the creek for a short while.  I am extremely fortunate to have an employer that tolerates my fly fishing addiction.  The boss doesn't understand it, but he's been quite charitable in allowing me to get my fixes.

By 8:10 I was on the water with the new Crazy Charlie ready to go and a lone carp was targeted.  The cast went well and the carp sucked ol' Charlie straight up. 

I take my usual crappy picture (all my pictures are crap), slip the beast back into the drink, and return to work...wet socks and all. 

Pretty sweet.
I was only required to stay at the workplace until ten this morning and decided to make a second run at the creek before the winds gathered. 

Going back to the same pasture the first carp of the day was secured, the Crazy Charlie quickly found carp number two.  
Carp number three was a dan, dan, dandy, but, the hookset was a little iffy barely catching the fringe of the creatures top lip.  The hook pulled out after a minute or so.  The big ones always get away don't they?

After losing the leviathan, it's time to explore another pasture upstream.

Once at the next pasture it's time to give the Crazy Charlie a rest and tie on a Mysis Shrimp.  I know... there aren't any Mysis shrimp in this local water.  So?  Maybe that's why the next carp liked it so much - something new on the menu.

The Mysis dropped about six inches in front of this carp and he sucked it up right away.  Another crappy picture and the beast returned to his watery den. 

At 11 o'clock, the wind was blowing me off the creek so I go to the bunkhouse. 

The last carp of this morning took fancy to a simple tie Mysis Shrimp pattern. 


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Carp Redux 2011 - The Wind And The Spawn

Oklahoma is most certainly the place where the wind comes sweeping down the plains. For the last ten… maybe fifteen days, the strong breath of this prairie ocean has been more howling-like rather than just sweeping.

Daily wind of twenty-five to thirty-five miles per hour has, for the most part, put fly fishing for carp on the skids. The wind not only riffles already compromised off-color water, it also launches the air assaults of blossoms, tassels, and tender young leaves that fall toward the surface. Once on the water, nature takes the leafy material and quilts a blanket of cover across the surface, further shielding the golden ones from the sight of the pursuer of carp by fly.

Pursuing the carp by fur and feather is close to impossible on the local carp creek at this time.

It has been a long while since Charlie or I have held good conversation with the good carp. Said dialogue with these creatures is our ever demanding need, and we are quickly becoming desperate for conditions to improve so we can exchange once again with the gentle creatures that lumber in the drink.

Saturday, the wind was predicted to be as strong as it has been for the last ten days, and Sunday's prediction was for even stronger wind.  However, Saturday morning was as calm as a mill pond, so I decide to check the pasture known as Well Springs.  Arriving at Well Springs, the carp are out in good numbers having a morning feast.  I turn the prairie schooner in the direction of the bunkhouse and once there the carp gear is quickly gathered.  I grab the rod, the fur, the feather... and head back to the creek.

As a gris-gris for the tippet, and as a charm to the carp, the Crazy Charlie goes on with high hopes this fly will be the fool's gold for the carp and serve as a good enough trickery so we can do battle. 

The majority of the carp are downstream to the east.  At a quarter to eight in the morning the sun is blinding to the fly angler for carp.  I kept trying to get position where a tree trunk would block the sun's beams... but, that proved fruitless.  Finally, I simply turned my back to the sun and looked upstream.

Upstream there were only a half dozen or so carp across a vast span of creek.  Targeting two carp in a shallow and narrow channel, the Crazy Charlie is sent with a twelve foot flip cast.  The fly disappears from sight almost as soon as it enters the water, but watching the behaviour of the near side carp it looks as if the fish in on the fly and has sucked.  A slow lift of the rod tip, pressure sensed, snap of the wrist and the tie is bound - man and carp are connected.

With so much of the creek being compromised, the intended pasture today is Charlie's Pasture.  This pasture remains clear with great visibility due to an inflow of water from little sister creek Travertine. 

Upon arriving at Charlie's Pasture it doesn't take long to realize that something special is taking place today.  The carp of this pasture are in the spawn.  It's a frantic, frenzied, passionate and lustful event to watch.  Knowing that this is their time, not the anglers, I simply sit on the bank and watch the events take place. 

There is tremendous thrashing along the deep cut bank across the creek.  Whether this is a result of the chase or the females trying to dislodge eggs... I do not know.  

I carried a single beer with me today. It takes a solid hour to sip that beer while I take in the spectacle of nature's call in this carp community - a call that ensures the community will continue. 

Watching this event made me realize how little I know about living life in the water and on one hand I wish I understood more.  However, on the other hand... I'm glad it is a mystery to me, because it's the mystery of life in the water that continues to draw me.

The male carp are dogged in their pursuit trying to win the favor of the fruitful and fair females. After watching these creatures for a good long while I decide to see what the bass and pan fish have on their minds.  

The only fly used today was the Crazy Charlie.  Both bass and pan fish favored this pattern and it seems like the presence of both bass and pan fish is healthier this year compared to last year. 

Encouraging, delightfully encouraging.

Last night I enjoyed reading one of Tom Chandler's recent posts on Trout Underground.  It seems that recently Tom was contacted by a writer doing an article and Tom was asked the question, "What is Trout Underground?', which basically asks "What is fly fishing?" 

Of course, like most of us would, Tom struggled to find the correct or sensible answer and perhaps that's because there is no right answer.  Fly fishing... is perhaps... impossible to define. 

There was a time in my fly fishing life I had to catch fish.  If I went fly fishing and didn't catch a fish, regardless if it was conditions, my inability, not minding my P's and Q's, or the sun being in my eyes, I would become quite ill from getting skunked.  Ill to the point of being generally pissy, down-in-the-mouth, severely depressed.

Fortunately, this stage would only last several years as I grew in fly fishing and the day would come that catching fish each time wasn't necessary.  No sense in lying about it though, I always want to catch fish when fly fishing.

Over the last couple of years I've come to look at fly fishing as not something I do, but rather a place I go.  I now call fly fishing the workshop for the soul.

Approaching sixty years old, rather soon, I am most thankful I can still get on the water as easily as I do. 

This morning I recognized the smell of spring grass, blossoms, and flowers.  This morning... I found the footprints of wildlife bound - wildlife that live along the banks of the creek and share their home with the angler. 

This morning... it took me an hour to drink a beer while watching the carp make love. 

It was a special morning... this morning. 

Unfortunately, the wind did come up and a gust took the Crazy Charlie into the clutches of a far bank tree.  The Crazy Charlie gave his life at sea this morning.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Oh Those Achin' Elbows - Fly Fishing Elbow

Through my own pain - the pain in my elbows that seems to be with me each day, I decided to look for answers to what I've come to call "Fly-fishing elbow". 

With my fly fishing life keeping me in the outdoors and on the water around 200 days a year, I have developed the theory that it is indeed the repetitive motion of fly casting that has by elbows in greatly compromised condition and therefore a need to research for at least a remedy.  The carp by fly part of my life has seem to do the most damage to the joints, because these creatures can put the tugboat tug on the ol' elbow... not to mention the wrist, shoulder, and back. 

In searching I found this article from the folk at Duke Health and the article makes a lot of sense... at least to me.  Figuring there are others out there just like me and suffer from constantly sore, stiff, and tender elbow joints... I pass this article on in hopes that all of you can also find a little ease from this affliction.

By Duke Medicine News and Communications

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- The sport of fly fishing conjures up images of a solitary angler, wading in a cool, pristine wilderness stream, using guile to entice an unsuspecting fish to bite on his hand-crafted fly.

While that image may seem idyllic and serene, a new study by a Duke University Medical Center orthopedic surgeon reveals a more pedestrian truth -- this Zen-like experience with nature often leads to the same maladies experienced by much more competitive sportsmen such as golfers and tennis and baseball players.

While the nature of these sporting pursuits is quite different, common to all is that participants use repetitive arm motions and spend the bulk of their time standing. And just as interestingly, the remedies for the fly fishermen are the same -- staying in good general shape, paying attention to technique and using the right equipment.

The study, which was conducted by avid fly fisherman Dr. Keith Berend, chief orthopedic resident at Duke, looked at the health and fishing habits of 131 fly fishermen and found that 69 percent reported lower back pain, up to a quarter reported pain in their hands and wrist, shoulders and knees, and 18 percent reported elbow pain.

"The sport of fly fishing is growing in popularity, and this study was an attempt to get a better handle on the types of maladies we are seeing more often in orthopedic clinics," Berend said. "The results demonstrate that these maladies seem to mirror those seen in other, more studied recreational activities."

Berend prepared the results of his analysis for presentation Thursday (July 19) at the annual meeting of the Southern Orthopedic Association.

Not only is this study believed to be the first to look at the aches and pains specific to fly fishermen, the results substantiate the use of the Internet as a valid tool for gathering data for analysis, Berend said.

For his study, Berend posted a notice on the top 10 Web sites frequented by fly fishing enthusiasts that he was conducting a study of physical ailments of fly fishers. During the one-month period of the study, 89 anglers requested and completed the detailed questionnaire about their health status and fishing habits.

As a control, Berend went to a monthly meeting of the North Carolina chapter of Trout Unlimited, and asked those fishermen in attendance to complete the same questionnaire. Forty-two members did so. Statistically, there was little difference between the two groups in terms of age or prevalence of the different ailments, leading Berend to conclude that the information collected via the Internet and e-mail was indeed a representative sampling of fly fishermen.

"I was surprised to learn that there was no correlation between the numbers of days per year the people fished and the pain they suffered," Berend said in an interview. "Also, there didn't seem to be a correlation between age and physical complaints."

For shoulder, elbow and wrist pain, the repetitive motion involved in maintaining the fly far from the fisherman and keeping it active to mimic a live insect or bait, leads to complaints that are similar to ailments experienced by tennis and baseball players.

"Simply put, repetitive motions in general can cause problems," Berend said. "It is even worse if this repetitive motion -- whether during fishing or tennis -- occurs intensely and sporadically, much like the typical weekend warrior who is only active on weekends. Staying in shape on a continual basis should help reduce the level of these pains."

The back and leg pains experienced by the fishermen stem from a number of factors, Berend explained. Many fly fishermen stand on rocky and uneven surfaces in fast-moving waters while they fish, which can cause stresses on the leg and lower back over long periods of time. Also, since the fishermen typically stand in the middle of a stream, they carry much of their gear in or on vests for easy access.

"Some fishermen load their vests with too much weight to save trips back to the shore, while others wear vests that do not equally distribute the weight across the body," he said. "In these cases, I would recommend switching to the newer, better designed vests and not carrying so much weight."

The method used for casting, or presenting, the bait to the fish can also create pains in the shoulder, he continued. The fisherman typically uses the pole to gather the energy necessary to propel the bait a great distance. Just as in pitching a baseball, improper technique can lead to shoulder pain, Berend said.

The study found that saltwater fishermen, who typically use heavier equipment, had much higher rates of shoulder and elbow pain, than their freshwater counterparts.

While he plans further studies to look at the actual mechanics of casting, Berend believes that improper casting technique, possibly coupled with the actual properties of the rod itself, can lead to the shoulder pain.

"We are planning to conduct detailed electromyographic studies of the shoulder muscles, as well as three-dimensional biomedical analysis of technique, to better understand the actual mechanics of the cast," Berend said. "With that knowledge, we hope to be able to come up with strategies to prevent or reduce pain and increase performance, like we have done for other sports."

These studies will be conducted in the Michael W. Krzyzewski Human Performance Lab at Duke.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Carp Redux 2011 - Fixated On Carp By Elk Hair Caddis

I've never considered myself much of a dry fly fisherman even though I have caught trout, bass, pan-fish and now carp on dry patterns.  Since catching my first carp on an Elk Hair, I seem to have become fixated on doing nothing else in the pursuit of carp. The window of opportunity in capturing carp on the surface is short, and therefore my fixation has become compounded. 

The gloomy weather of last week has given way to bright sunlit days and today the temperature was close to eighty degrees.  Going to the pasture we called the Shallows, I carried great hope of capturing and battling a carp today.  Very well did I know that my best chances would be using a subsurface pattern such as a Carpola Charlie, San Juan Worm, Crazy Charlie or Zimmerman's Backstabber, but, upon getting to the local water there were a few sipping carp - the beeves of this pasture feeding on blossoms.

So, the Elk Hair went on.  As it always seems, getting the fly to the carp was going to be a chore.  Today, they were sipping the blossoms that were directly underneath a low hanging tree limb.  The beeves, being where they were grazing would require a side-arm cast from said fly angler and therefore a side-arm was employed. 

I'll have to say I was pretty darn proud of the side-arm casting today with the first attempt landing directly above the grazing carp.  My blood pressure probably rose a good ten or twenty points as the fly drifted into the thick of the five or six carp.  But... one of those prairie ocean banditos - the thieves of a fly angler for carp dreams, intercepted the Elk Hair and spooked the carp. 

Attempt number two would play out the same with a perch stealing the fly and sending the carp back downstream.   Each time the carp would spook they would return five or ten minutes later.

Love these little creatures, but they can be pesky.
Also likes the Elk Hair.

The third attempt was another good cast and with great anticipation I watched as once again the fly drift into the carp when one opened his mouth and sucked the Elk Hair in.  I went for the hook-set and the carp promptly scattered.  Evidently, I wasn't patient enough on the hook-set, and thus my reasoning that I'm not a good dry fly fisherman.

Ten minutes later the carp were back and another attempt was made.  This time the carp spooked for no apparent reason except one of them sensed my tippet.  This wasn't the first time I've seen this happen and I simply don't know what to do about it.  To hold these Longhorns of the water, we must rope them with 2X and 2X is certainly not conducive to floating a size 12 dry pattern. In an attempt to help the Elk Hair, I went as far as greasing the last two foot of the 2X.   Any suggestions on how to keep from spooking the carp with the tippet will be greatly appreciated.  Just leave your comments in the comment section... please.

Long story short is that I would have two more sucks on the Elk Hair Caddis and I would go for the hook-set too early each time.  Three great opportunities today, and I blew each one.

The main reason as to why I go for the hook-set when I do, is the fear of letting the fly get too deep in the throat of the carp and possibly cause damage to the creature. 

After missing the third carp on the Elk Hair, the beasts went to mudding and grazing on the bottom.  Guess I could have switched gears and tied on a counter-weighted fly, but somehow I just couldn't take the Elk Hair out of action.

If tomorrow proves to be a fishing day, and I see just a few sipping carp... the Elk Hair is going back on. 

If anyone has suggestions about my hook-set and tippet problems I will appreciate your comments.