Blue River Fly Classic

Blue River Fly Classic
A One Pattern Fly Event

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Personal Trails - A Dog Named Drift

It's been over seven years since I lost my good friend and trout scout Smokey.  All this time I have resisted the idea of taking another furry friend as a companion dog and perhaps it's been out of the fear of another potential loss.  However, we must continue on and take what life gives us and recently life gave me another opportunity to share my everyday with a sweet little pooch.

I named him Drift.  Drift seemed to fit for a couple of reasons.  One reason is that drift is a well known, and used, fly fishing term and without doubt fly fishing is a large part of my life.  Also, drift seemed to fit what I knew about this little dog. 

He is a vagabond type of dog and through his travels he came to take up temporary residence at the home of my young boss.  Drift seemed to be just fine staying outside my bosses home, but with the harshness of winter coming about, the boss was concerned that this small breed and short-haired dog would not fare well. 

So Drift has now traded his free-ranging ways to a warm place on the living room sofa or love seat.  It's been a hard adjustment for him and I can tell he longs for the hobo life.

I will have to admit he is a dedicated dog and when I am home he's not more than two feet from me.  It's been not only an adjustment for him but yours truly also, because morning, noon, and night now I find myself dedicating a good amount of time taking Drift to the outdoors that he so loves.  An outdoors that I share a love for.

Of course all good things are worth working for and it will take some time for Drift to learn to respect the command of my voice.  I noticed right away that Drift owns what I call a running bone and therefore a leash will be necessary until we build up time and trust together.  I think the biggest obstacle to achieving this goal is the fact that Drift didn't come to me as a young dog - he has a few years on him and is set in his ways.  The trust factor will be vital.
Of course it's my hope that the day will come that Drift and I can explore the Blue River together and for me not to worry about him going Houdini. 
He's a smart dog - extremely smart.  I think he's going to make a wonderful fly-fishing friend. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Conversations With Carp - A December To Remember

An Arctic front was scheduled to hit this part of the prairie ocean at nine o'clock this morning.  This frigid train was being pushed by thirty-five mile per hour winds and promised to make it's presence known. 

At 8:30 I decided to take my dog Drift for a walk along Rock Creek.  We could feel the edge of the front already announcing itself.  As Drift made notes of every tree along the creek, I looked down and to my amazement saw two carp actively feeding. 

I let Drift finish his walk and then we hurried home where I slapped on the waders and grabbed the rod and one Creek Critter - nothing else would be required because this was going to be a short trip.  I arrived at the pasture known as the upper shallows of Honey Hole about five minutes before nine.  The temperature had already dropped another five or ten degrees in just thirty minutes. 

The water was crystal clear at this carp pasture and as I let my eyes adjust I saw a really nice carp - one of the nicest I've seen this year.  I rolled the Creek Critter out to the fish, but my first cast was off mark going downstream and beyond the fish.  The second try was an on-the-money shot landing about four inches in front of this large carp.  The carp slowly inched to the fly and sucked.

I planted the hook hard, but there was no reaction from the carp - no panic, no run, no turn, nothing.  This carp acted like it didn't know it was hooked.  Then I put pressure on the fish and instead of blowing up the carp started a methodical, and extremely heavy tug headed downstream. 

The best way I can describe this fish is that it felt like someone had tied a 15 lb. bag of potatoes on the end of my leader.  It took me a long time to land the creature, but to my delight this fish turned out to be the largest carp I've caught this season.  It seems rather ironic that my largest carp of 2012 would come in the month of December as an Arctic front was arriving. The fish came to hand at 9:03 a.m.

After releasing this dandy fish, I headed back to the prairie schooner thinking I would go back to the bunkhouse.  However, I decided to check one more pasture - the one known as Lower Well Springs. 
At Lower Well Springs there was a solitude carp feeding in shallow water.  The Creek Critter found his upper lip also.  The second, and also last, carp of 2012 came to hand.
As I was spooling and lining up my rod, I notice a funny looking black mark on my fly line.  Guess the carp of 2012 have put some burn on the ol' fly line. 
Lovin' it.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Conversations With Carp - Scraped, Bloodied, No Camera

That dang Charlie.  Charlie gets me all excited with his scouting reports and then I get myself into predicaments like today.

Last night, Charlie sent me a report of how he could stand high on a bank above the shallows at the pasture that bears his name.  He could stand there totally undetected by the carp below foraging in the shallow drink.  And... he reported that there was some carp activity taking place.

On my lunch hour today I had to go see for myself.  Upon looking over the bank I see two rather good-size carp about fifteen feet upstream and they are indeed foraging.  In the prairie schooner is the rod already assembled with a Creek Critter tied on.  I trot back to the schooner and fetch the rod and sunglasses. 

In order to cast to the carp I could see best I would have to lean out and up against a tree that was about 40 to 50 inches in circumference.  Shaking line out of the end of the rod I threw out the amount I thought it would take to roll cast the Critter to the carp. 

I made the roll cast and the fly landed about a foot directly in front of the carp.  I watched the fly fall quickly in the column and it turns out I wasn't the only one watching.  The carp rushed to the fly and I planted the hook firmly in his upper lip. 

The carp took off like a rocket straight upstream and this is when I realized I was in a heck of a predicament.  I hooked the carp with the rod being on the left side of the tree I was propped up against.  In order to land the carp I would have to try and pass the rod to my right hand by passing the rod in front of the tree that was in front of me.  Being 40 to 50 inches in circumference it was going to be a stretch under perfect conditions.  The problem was the fish was on a hard run and I couldn't bend the rod enough to grab it with my right hand.

Three different times I almost had the rod when the carp would make another run.  When the carp got into the backing I didn't know what to do except hold on.  Finally, I felt some slack and I once again tried to pass the rod.  I got enough bend in the rod to grab the rod at it's mid-length, (which is probably a terrible idea - if the carp would have run then I would have carried a broken rod home), and now had the rod in my right hand.

Now, I could step down the tree root staircase to the edge of the creek.  The last step of this tree root system puts the angler about six inches above the creek.  I didn't want to get in the creek because I had work shoes, khaki work pants and white shirt on.  But, it worked out well.  I simply spooled up enough line and got the leader inside the guides and then gently reached down and backed the fly out of the mouth of the carp.  He quickly left the scene.

When I gathered myself I saw blood dripping and what I didn't know was all that reaching around the tree had scraped the skin off my hands and I was now bleeding from both hands.

Sad part of today was I was on my lunch hour and the camera was back at the bunkhouse... so no picture.  It was a very nice carp though - one of the largest for me this year at about 12 pounds or so. 

I left the creek to go the house and wash up before returning to work.  At the house I decided to take a picture of my scraped hands and bloody khaki pants just to document what some of us who fly fish for carp will do to land a fish. 

At least I didn't get the Khakis wet.  Hope the blood comes out.
I have no idea of what a passerby must have thought when they seen me with my arms wrapped around that tree.  Probably thought I was some kind of weirdo tree hugger or worse.
The lengths we who fly fish for carp will go to in order to land a carp.  We are a sad and hopeless lot. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Conversations With Carp - Instinct

I guess after today, December 1st, 2012 will forever be etched in my memory.  After catching my first ever carp by fly in the month of December this morning, I went back to the creek this afternoon and introduced myself to two more December carp. 

Who amongst us can explain instinct?  It's an ability to have capacity or know when to act.  That's what it was all about this afternoon on the creek.

Conditions as far as wind, riffling, and glare could not have been more demanding.  There was a southerly wind clipping at 25 miles per hour and I was fishing east to west across the creek.  About twenty-five feet out, near the far side of the bank, I could see the shadow of a good size carp.  Thank goodness I brought the six weight with the Rio line this afternoon because I would be roll casting across the current of the wind. 

Somehow, I managed a good roll and the fly landed slightly to the left of the carp.  I watched the carp slowly turn to his right and then somehow I just knew she was on the fly.  It was time to go for a hook-set and as I did I felt a solid connection followed by a sudden burst of power.

The carp of this morning had no fight, but this carp did because it was a decent sized beeve.  It took me a long time to bring it to hand.  The Creek Critter was the candy.

It was time to visit another pasture and at the pasture known as Big Well Springs, I fixed a target on another nice sized carp. 
The Creek Critter came through once more.
How's that for a crotch shot?  Well... the fish was near my crotch, but kind of.... slid down you know. 
With carp slime all over my waders I carried the fish upstream about fifteen feet to clear water to let the creature return to life. 
The fish said goodbye with one big swirl.  Carp by fly in December in Oklahoma.  There's something quite right about that, but something quite wrong.

Trout, Carp, Addiction And Simplicity

They say the heroine addict continues to use in  flawed and failing attempts to duplicate that magical moment in the addicts life when he or she used heroine for the first time.  That initial high, to the addict, must be pure euphoria - a feeling unlike any other. 

So, the addict uses again in hopes of achieving the same feeling the first use brought them, but that feeling falls short on the second attempt, and the third, fourth, and forever thereafter.

Impossible to duplicate that initial high, each high afterwards results in disappointment so the addict begins to increase the dose and the frequency of using.  It's called the chase and it's futile.

I think the fly fisher can be like the heroine addict.  I very well remember the joy and jubilation I felt when I caught my first Rainbow trout on a fly.  It was cold November morning and I was standing thigh deep in that sweet pool on Blue river we call Seventeen.  Someone had give me a size 14 cone head olive mini-leech and I was fishing it down and across when I seen the fly line surge forward.  When that trout came to my hand I felt total happiness. 

Like the heroine addict, I have continued to try and duplicate that feeling that came on that cold November morning many years ago.  And, just like the heroine addict I continue to fall short.  Also, just like the heroine addict I found myself increasing the dosages of outings, the frequency in my trips, hoping to achieve once found euphoria.  I continue to fail.

It seems like each trout season, as the crowds at Blue river continue to grow, I find myself migrating further and further north in hopes of more solitude.  But, the truth is the crowds are growing and the river is not.  I continue to go north however.

Two weeks ago, up north, it was all buggers.  Only changed color on the buggers once.  Buggers seemed to be the favor of the trout that day.  Big numbers of trout didn't come to hand, but a dozen or so did and that seemed to be enough.

Last week, I decided to go north again and on this outing I wanted to concentrate on simplicity.  There is something about simplicity that appeals to me.  I do not own a cell phone - have never had an Ipod, Ipad, Nook, Kindle or one of those devices that lets you record television programs.  I do have a laptop - a streamlined laptop that does allow me to record my fishing memories via this journal.  I thrive on simplicity.
I think at times fish like simplicity also.  And, I think those of us who tie flies tend to over-tie much of the time. 

On this outing I took a fly that screams simplicity.  This fly consists of two body materials.  The tailing is sparse rabbit strip fur and the body is chenille.  That's it - no hackle, no collar, no flash, no wing, nothing else. 
This simple fly found the favor of trout also.  All I had to do is drop it in pockets or pull it off a ledge and let it fall.  The trout would come out from their lies and eat it. 
Yesterday up north, it was all nymphs.  Size 18 Hare's Ear and Pheasant Tails were the favored children of the trout.  The action was agonizingly slow and the drift had to be long with the angler patient. 
Only seven trout would come to hand in two hours.  The wind out of the south continued to rise and numbness set in the legs and hands.  When I got to this stretch of water yesterday morning I was the only soul there, but within fifteen minutes of my arrival eight other anglers had also showed eagerly wanting trout.  Few of them caught any.  Just one of those days I guess.
I speak of my addiction to trout that came over me many years ago.  But now, I have a even more severe addiction.  I brought this addiction on myself when Charlie and I agreed to fly fish for carp and on a late in day in March of 2010, I caught my first carp using a Backstabber.  My addiction to trout pales in comparison to the addiction I have for carp.
Yesterday, I was talking to Charlie and pointed to out that if we catch a carp in December we will have caught carp by fly every month of 2012. 
Today is December and this morning I went to the carp creek and this morning a Mirror carp smiled favorably on the Creek Critter pattern. 
I look at this morning's carp as an early Christmas present.  Charlie and me can now say that we have a creek that carp can be caught every month of year by way of fly.  Now I don't know exactly how Charlie how feels about that, but I'm not sure I real happy about it because I think it speaks of the unusual weather we are having.  Weather unseasonably warm that is prolonging the continuing severe drought we are having.  Of course, Charlie and me both are more interested in the long term health of this creek and the fish that live there. 
However, if I am truthful to you all, my addiction to these fish makes me want to catch carp every month of the year.  Fly fishing for carp is nourishing to me - like the teat to a baby calf.