Blue River Fly Classic

Blue River Fly Classic
A One Pattern Fly Event

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Conversations With Carp - A Rush To Talks

That one day off from the mercantile store didn't last long.  It seems the young man that was helping fell prey to the delights of summer vacation.  Most likely his friends bombarded him with grand tales of summer night fun and it simply became more than he could bear.  He went to lunch on Monday only to never return.  His decision has put me back to seven days a week. 

I'm an old dog.  Old dogs have to create ways or avenues that make it easier to obtain our goals - goals that once came easy when we were younger dogs.  Also, old dogs don't sleep as well as they once did and tend to rise early. 

This morning I arrived at the mercantile store at 5:30 and in a forty-five minute flurry got things presentable, or "acceptable" as the big boss likes to say.  At 6:15 I announced to the rest of the cast and crew of the mercantile store that I was headed for the creek and would return in one hour or little more.  Also, I told them it was my hope to return in the air of victory. As it ended up, only half that time would be needed to have a say-so with the carp.  Within thirty minutes two carp would be brought to hand for branding.

Armed with the red tail, black body Curiosity pattern the first carp was taken by sight.  This fish was a respectable fish and put up a rather worthy fight.

The second carp of the morning came on a blind roll cast.  No more than three or four seconds passed from the time the fly entered the plunge until this fish inhaled the fly and ran.  These kind of takes don't happen much on this creek and when they do they serve as a most pleasant surprise and experience.  This fish was a good bit larger than the first, but you can't tell from the picture.  Full of fight the fish took me past the backing and line knot for a length of fifteen or twenty feet.  Finally, I would recover some line and the tug-of-war would begin.

Oh how easy it would have been to stay longer this morning - my soul did not want to leave the creek.  However, never have I been one to totally shirk responsibility.  There on the creek bank I said a small prayer thanking my creator for the opportunity of this morning and then went to my prairie home where I washed off the carp, slipped on the khaki trousers, white shirt, and return to the mercantile store by 7:30. 

Hell'ava life huh?

Now, what about Charlie?  Charlie has had one complicated time in getting quality carp-by-fly time on our beloved little creek.  One thing is that he's still nursing that bum foot, and this has limited his once spry (for men our age) movement.  Then, there's the inn he owns and operates.  It seems to me that business at his inn has been much more this year compared to last and this dominates a lot of Charlie's time.  Now, there has been a new chapter opened addressing what is slowing Charlie's carp time down.

Last Saturday after spending about three hours on the creek I return to my prairie home and pick seven ticks off my person.  As soon as I discoved the ticks had attacked me I sent Charlie a message telling him ticks were thick as molasses - a fact Charlie already knew.  The intent of my message was to remind him that he and I owe to ourselves due dillegence when it comes to ticks. 

I think it was sometime Thursday that Charlie ended up at the emergency room with high fever and severe body aches.  The attending doctor informed Charlie he had tick fever.  Fortunately it can be treated with antibiotics and it's stay will be temporary. 

Ticks are nasty little critters that carry disease and can make us quite ill.  Lyme disease is something that nobody wants to deal with. 

So Charlie is off the water and out of the woods until he gets clear of this round of tick fever.  I think it's time we start thinking about some kind of tick defense strategy in our carp-by-fly life. I say this because I know Charlie... and I know of little that will keep him from his cherished carp.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Conversations With Carp - Code Talk

There was only about thirty minutes of light left last evening, but I decided to go to the creek anyhow.  For the first fifteen minutes I didn't see a single carp.  Working my way downstream it wasn't long until I discovered a treasure box of nice size carp.

I want you to imagine a stretch of water like an oblong box.  This box is about fifteen feet wide (upstream to downstream) and twenty-five feet across (from bank to bank).  In this box I describe, there are about fifteen carp - quality carp for this creek.  Two of the carp are fairly close to me so I target one and send out the fly.  As the fly falls in the column the fish sees it and spooks. 

In less than fifteen seconds every single carp in that treasure box - that oblong box of about 300 square feet have begun to make exodus.  Even the carp that are upstream and twenty to twenty-five feet away are in fast lane mode in less than fifteen seconds.

That's not pheromones.  Pheromones simply do not act that quickly, particularly on upstream fish.  The carp have some other amazing way of communicating with one another.  What it is I do not know.  Could it be something in the Weberian apparatus.  Possibly.  Could it be a signal sent out from a lateral line?  Again, possibly. 

These fish have some way of signaling one another in a language we don't or can't understand.  I look at it as code talk.  Of course, I'm always disappointed when I spook a fish, but on the same hand I'm always amazed at how they talk to one another and send out messages.

I leave the creek as the light falls.

This morning I get to the creek fairly early with Charlie's Biter Critter tied on.  One footnote please -I've been referring the Charlie's version of the Biter Critter as Charlie's Biter Critter.  However, he tells me he prefers to call it the Creek Critter.  Therefore I make a post saying that I stand corrected, as the fly formerly known as Charlie's Biter Critter is now known as the Creek Critter.  I don't care what the name of this fly is because it catches carp like crazy.

In less than five minutes, after arriving this morning, I have the first carp of the day to hand.  Fishing the upper shallows of the pasture known as Honey Hole, the carp sucked the Creek Critter on the first cast.

From the upper shallows I travel to the lower shallows of Honey Hole.  Here I find two carp gingerly feeding in the shallow and narrow run.  The Creek Critter goes out once again and an absolutely beautiful mirror carp comes to hand.

I wanted to get a decent picture of this amazing looking fish instead of one of the pictures I usually take with the fish in the grass, or on the bank, or at the edge of the creek.  Trying to hold the mirror in one hand and snap the picture with the other the mirror flops and goes back into the drink.  No picture.  (Mental note:  Dummy, get yourself a high quality, fish-friendly net.) 

Leaving Honey Hole I travel to Charlie's Pasture.  Here I see a carp about twenty-five feet out coming toward me head-on.  The Creek Critter goes out head-on also as the carp continues to come to the fly and purses those lips.  Rod tip up, hook-set good, and the talks are on.  With this fish I have to slide down the bank and try to walk him upstream to get him to hand.  He was a dandy scraper and the battle took a good while. 

After the third carp of the morning it's time to take a coffee and hot chocolate break.  Walking off the creek it was hard to keep from noticing how life was flourishing. I saw jay's and cardinals, squirrel and deer, grasshopper were abundant as the dragonflies and other winged and legged creatures were.

After a short break I return to the Honey Hole pasture.  At the creek's edge I decide to give the Creek Critter a rest.  Placed into employment is the black body with red stinger tail Curiosity pattern.  This fly sails on a blind thirty foot roll cast and it isn't long until I feel the pressure of the fish on the fly.  At first I was convinced this fish was a catfish, but then I got a glimpse of the orange tail. 

This fourth carp was a heavy carp and the fight was memorable.  He never made long runs, but simply bore down on the line and leader. 

By now it's almost ten o'clock and the high humidity is seeping into the body so I have to call it a day.  A good day though. 

And of course, and sadly I should say, there was trash to pick up this morning.  Here's some of the artifacts of modern man reclaimed this morning.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Conversations With Carp - Talks After Supper

Since last Saturday there has been little time to get to the creek in hopes of holding conversation with the carp.  Miss Carol flew to Virginia on Monday to see one of the boys and visit with two beautiful granddaughters.  Her departure put me in charge of extra bunkhouse duties and therefore little time on the water has been the result.

Yesterday, however, there was about an hour of daylight left after finishing supper so I decided to slip down to the creek.  The wind yesterday, and for the last several days, has been stiff to say the least.  There has been a constant riffle on the surface, and although this can make seeing the carp difficult it also can serve as a blessing because they have more difficulty in seeing us. 

Armed with the chartreuse Biter Critter a lone favorable carp is spotted and the fly goes sailing toward the creature.  He eats it without hesitation. 

This one carp would be the extent of my carp catching because I was losing light by the minute.  This fish seemed to be enough to satisfy though because he was one heck of a scraper. 

The carp of this creek should be on notice.  With the help of a fabulous Father's Day gift my carp-by-fly life has been enhanced I believe.

Over the last several years, each time I go to a fly shop I always look at the fly tier's magnifying glass offerings.  But, there is always something else that draws my attention more.  Even though I have been in dire need of visual aid in my tying life, that new pair of waders or boots, rod or reel has always won out.  While the rods, reels, waders, boots, and other fly fishing gear has come off the shelf, the magnifying glass has stayed on.

Those days are over now, because for Father's Day I received a Carson MagniFly.  Now, I can churn out carp flies like Hershey's turns out chocolate bars.

Watch our carp, new flies coming your way soon. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Conversations With Carp - Sweating The Talks

Even though I got to the creek rather early this morning, by 7:30 it looked like I had fallen in the creek.  The humidity is so high here I was drenched in sweat. 

Starting out at the pasture we call the Honey Hole it was easy to tell the fishing would not be good here.  A brisk southern wind of the past several days has blown the debris into this stretch and it's completely scummed over.  So, off to the pasture we call the Courtyard.

At Courtyard the water was crystal.  Spotting several young carp upstream a stealthy approach is made their way.  The olive grizzled tan stinger tail is on the line and flipped out to one of the young ones.  The babe eats it right away.  Amazing how strong this young fish was.  I ended up having to jump off the high bank in order to find a place to land the fish.

The calamity I made in the water put the other carp down so it was time to move on.

From the Courtyard I travel to the creek that runs though federal park land.  Arriving at the pasture we call Charlie's Pasture I find big carp.  But, all the big boys and everyone else are suspended on the far side of the creek about thirty feet away.  I keep looking for a favorable carp - one on the graze, a tailing carp, but nary a one can be seen.

Tying on a F fly Charlie give me I cast it to a carp that looks like he is sucking mid-column.  The fish goes for the fly, but in my excitement I pull the fly away from the beeve.  Minutes later another fish goes for the F fly mid-column and again I screw up.  It's time to move on to another pasture.

With each outing I've been picking up trash I find, but have failed to document any of it for future reference.  Today it was a beer can some joker threw in the creek.  I'm in search of a grappling hook I can tie a rope on because so far I have found six tires in the creek and I want those nasty things gone.  A tire can stay intact for hundreds of years and have no place in a creek.

Leaving Charlie's pasture I head to the pastures known as the Beach and Bend.  While sitting on the back of the prairie schooner tying on a chartreuse Biter Critter, Charlie comes by.  He's taking a morning stroll on that monster motorcycle he drives.  Of course we have to talk fly fishing, water, tying more patterns and tourists.  Weekends are almost impossible for Charlie to fish because of the inn he owns and operates.  Charlie wishes me luck and off I am to the creek. 

With the Biter Critter two more carp would come to hand within twenty minutes.  The wind had picked up significantly and it was time to call it a day. 

Now, looking at this picture there will be some of you that accuse me of getting this fish drunk so I could catch it.  But, I assure you that empty liquor bottle is not mine.  I'm a clown at times, but not the kind of clown that throws crap in the creek.

As hot and good a pattern the Biter Critter is, this fly seems to have one fault - at least the ones I try to tie.  They are not durable at all.  After only two carp with this fly this morning the fly was showing a lot of wear and missing one leg. 

Wrapping the morning up I notice how dirty I am and truly carp-by-fly can be a messy affair at times.  I should give credit to my wife Miss Carol for putting up with my carp-by-fly life.  She rarely complains of the mess I carry home to our bunkhouse. 

Thank you Miss Carol. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Conversations With Carp - Hot Line

At 6:15 this afternoon the heat index was still at 104, but I decided to go to the creek anyhow.  Arriving at the pasture we call Courtyard fifteen minutes later, the humidty was so thick you could almost cut it. 

In the shallow part of this pasture were three young carp feeding and I wanted to fish them.  However coiled in the way was a cottonmouth.  This was the first cottonmouth I've seen on the creek this year - a short, blunt, nasty looking sucker.  I could tell he wasn't going to budge and I wasn't about to try and make it, so I passed on this water.

Upstream I stuck the first carp feeding at the upper end of a large pool.  Then upstream to another set of shallows and more young carp feeding.  Took a young fellow while he was grazing. 

I saw a lot of young carp today, which is good.  Young carp grow and become big carp and hopefully we will have a good crop of carp to fish for years. 

It didn't take long to begin to lose light and that would result in blind fishing.  I decided to leave the blind fishing to another day and leave the creek hot and sweaty... but, happy. 

Fly Fishing For Carp - Our Beloved Carp Apparel

There are a number of blogs I read each week, and one of my favorites is Trevor Tanner's Fly Carpin.  Last week, Trevor published a post entitled Ode To Stank - a ballad in honor of his well worn and beloved carp-by-fly cap. 

If we read Trevor's words and look at the picture of his Carpe Carpio cap, it's easily to tell this cap has reached can't-fish-without-it status.  Additionally, I would suggest Trevor's cap is quickly reaching, if not already there, gnarly status.

I now realize that Trevor and I have something in common besides our love to chase carp by way of fur, feather, and fly rod.  We both seem to have a tendency to not easily let go of some of our carp apparel. 

Now I don't know if he has ever been offered money for his cap, but when it comes to the cowboy hat that I always wear when chasing carp there have many several offers of money from people who say they collect cowboy hats. 

Of course, their offers were turned down because there truly are some things in this world that money can't buy. 

Anyhow, since Trevor made his post and it seems we have something in common when it comes to hanging on to sacred carp apparel... I begin to wonder how many more, like us, are out there with their grimy gear.

In order to determine how many more may be hanging on to long-owned, well-used, gritty, grimy, nasty-status carp apparel, I decided to post a picture of my hat. 

Trevor tells us his cap is eight years old and that is certainly a respectable age.  However, my cowboy hat is seventeen years old.  Yes... for seventeen years this low grade felt (X-factor like 1) has somehow survived me.  For almost two decades this hat has held every stitch when gear like waders, boots, and rods have failed to live through my onslaught of fly fishing insanity. 

Not taking anything away from Trevor's fine cap, I have to argue that my hat is just a bit more gnarly this his cap.  Not only is it gnarly it has become completely socially unacceptable.  I know this fact because I have worn it to social functions just to see the response on the faces of the fine people attending said social functions. 

Does it smell as badly as it looks?  Oh my god... this time of year it can make the olfactory curl and rollover dead.  All I can say is thank goodness for the man or woman that invented Frebreeze. 

So with all this said and done now, I hope that others out there - like Trevor and myself, will offer pictures of their cherished and can't-let-go-of carp apparel.  Let us see who is the king of gnarly carp apparel.   

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Conversations With Carp - Talks Cut Short... but,

Being in fine fettle yesterday morning, I planned to make it a day of extended talks with carp.  At five minutes after six, while dawn was still announcing itself, I was standing on the creek bank.  Within fifteen minutes two carp would come to hand.  At that point I was telling myself it could possibly be an outstanding carp-by-fly day. 

The fly yesterdays carp fell for.

But, an outstanding carp-by-fly day it would not turn out to be.  It seems one of the young hands at the mercantile store didn't make it to work, and this old man went in to take up the slack.  I should say this old grumbling man went in to take up the slack.

However, since I was giving time to the mercantile store I was deserving of a lunch hour and I quickly returned to the creek for a short hour reprieve.  In that hour one more carp would come to hand and this would be the extent of my carp-by-fly day. 

Even though my planned extended talks with carp was cut short on Saturday, I have nothing to complain about.  Last week was one of the more enjoyable weeks I can recall. 

A week ago Saturday, my youngest daughter Kempy married an outstanding man in Van Stacey.  As her father I could not be more pleased or proud of the happiness Kempy has found with Van.  Besides, Van likes to spend a lot of time in the outdoors fishing and hunting, so we will get along just fine.

On Monday I watched the Oklahoma City Thunder take one step closer to winning the NBA Western Conference by beating the Spurs for the third straight game.

On Tuesday, I had one of the best carp experiences of my carp-by-fly life in capturing five carp in less than an hours time on the water.  It was efficiency at it's best.

On Wednesday, I watched the OKC Thunder slowly dismantle the Spurs and win the Western Conference.  Now, these young talented men are on their way to the NBA finals.

The Thunder will face the Miami Heat for the NBA title.
On Thursday, the UPS driver delivered the replacement rod for my broken Temple Fork six-weight.  This rod has been missing in action for a good while and I've truly missed the rod.  How can we not love lifetime warranties on our fly rods?

On Friday, our friend Charlie waltzes into the mercantile store and hands me a Carp On The Fly window decal.  I love this thing!  Having a window decal like this makes a guy feel kind of official.  I wasted little time in slapping the decal on the prairie schooner along with other decals such as Fly Fish, Aztec Anglers, and The Fiberglass Manifesto.

Of course there was yesterday and I've already reported about Saturday.  Let me add that even though the outing was much shorter than I hoped for, any time spent on the creek chasing carp-by-fly is good time. 

And then there was this morning.  This Sunday morning, as most, the mercantile store owned my being.  Around 8:30 this morning the call of the creek was simply too much.  I inform the girls in the office I would be taking a break and would return within an hour.  Actually, I would be back at the store some forty-five minutes later.  So, it was out the door and to the creek, white shirt and all.

On the creek I would miss the first two carp sucks from simply not paying attention.  The third carp, a rather prodigious fellow, would snap my line like it was nothing.  This is the second time this week I've had my line broke by one of the larger carp that make Rock Creek home. 

Finally, I would capture a young carp using the same red tail stinger fly used yesterday.  The fly that attracted the two missed opportunities along with the broken line was Charlie's Biter Critter.  It was a fly I had just tied to replace the last one that was lost due to a carp breaking the line.

It's been a good week. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Conversations With Carp - Hot Topic

It is certainly heating up here on the prairie ocean and late in the afternoon around four or five is just too hot to fish.  Being somewhat beyond myself in wanting to hold discussions with the carp I decided to take a lunch hour today because the heat is still tolerable around the noon hour.

At the creek I decide to put Charlie's Biter Critter back in action.  Upstream from my position is a feeding carp and the Biter Critter goes sailing about twenty feet out and landing eight inches in front of the fish.  The carp sucks the fly right away and the conversation begins.

This one carp seem to satisfy my itch and not wanting to be off the clock anymore than I had to, I returned to work figuring this would be a one carp day.

However, around five this afternoon I received a carp hunter's blessing.  The sky darkened and became completely overcast hiding the sun.  The temperature dropped a good five degrees or more.  Within fifteen minutes I was on the creek.

The overcast sky created low-light conditions and most of us that hunt carp do not particularly like low-light situations. But, on the creek everything seemed perfect.  It was remarkable how clearly I could see and within thirty minutes I would bring four more carp to hand using the Biter Critter.

The carp were feeding in a shallow pasture of water we call the Bend.  Gently rolling the Critter out in front of the carp I would watch with a smile on my face as I could see the carp eat the fly.  Fishing the first four carp encountered, each one would swim to the fly and flare the gills.  It was almost too easy.

Wanting to go for carp number six of the day was squashed when the lightning started flashing, so I left the creek a happy, giddy carp hunter. 

Charlie's Biter Critter was today's hot topic of discussion.

Charlies Biter Critter quickly becoming unraveled.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Conversations With Carp - Nature Call

My heart was set on fishing early Saturday morning.  So much set, that I had everything ready Friday night.  On the floor of the den the waders were laid flat.  Next to the waders were the boots, followed by the cowboy hat, and finally the camera.  In the prairie schooner, the fly rod, flies, and lanyard were already stowed. 

The plan was to be dressed by 5:45 a.m., and out the door.  I would arrive at the coffee-getting store about ten minutes prior to six and the morning-shift girls would be good to let me in early... as they usually do.  I would be on the creek by the six o' clock morning hour.

However, as I pulled up hard on the prairie ponies and hitched at the convenience store, a bolt of lighting found ground followed by a tremendous clap of thunder and then the rain came down.  My hope of having conversations with carp was being interrupted by a nature call.

Thinking the rain would stop I would find myself sitting in front of the convenience store some thirty minutes later drinking my second cup of coffee and hot chocolate - a jacking mixture I tell you. 

Finally, I give in to the fact this day would be a wash and belonged to the carp... not the angler. 

These days on Rock Creek, it doesn't take much rain to dirty the creek.  The good news, however, is that it clears almost as quickly as it darkens.  Upon checking later in the day, it was easy to tell the creek would be fish-able on Sunday. 

And... Sunday it would be.

On Sunday, I owed some servitude to the mercantile store first and wouldn't get to the creek until high noon.  Here, where Charlie and I live and fish, I don't particularly like to fish mid-day.  This is June and this is Oklahoma - it's already getting hot with lots of humidity to go with it.  Heat and humidity do a number on the body and therefore I almost have to fish early or late.  But, after being so disappointed yesterday, Sunday would not let me escape without getting on the creek. 

And... Sunday's results would wipe away the wet and stormy disappointment that Saturday brought. 

Using the same pattern that's been used for the last eight or ten carp - the one with the stinger on it - the one I call the Curiosity, I would hold conversations with three carp.

Today's carp came from three different pastures.  The first two came on casting to a carp and going into blind-fishing mode, and the third came on a sight hook-set. 

Today's fishing was terribly muddy, messy, and sloppy - most likely due to yesterday's rain.  I left the creek mud-splattered and wearing carp slick like a badge of honor. 

Loving every moment of it I remembered what my buddy Charlie says.  Fly fishing for carp - "It's not pretty fishing."