Here on the prairie ocean, along with the south and southwest part of our country, we are experiencing what is known as "exceptional drought".
Now, we're not exactly a stranger to drought. Probably, most people when thinking of Oklahoma, automatically draw pictures of tumbleweeds and the stark images of the Great Dust Bowl era. Although, we have been associated with being an arid land, a large part of Oklahoma is truly an oasis. Even though drought is nothing new here, this year is particularly discouraging for this fly fisher along with my fellow carp by fly friend Charlie.
Our precious creek has grown threadbare with virtually no flow. Day by day, the situation seems to worsen and the creek seems to diminish. Last year, we didn't hit 100 degrees until July 31st. This year, we hit 100 degrees in a row the last thirteen days of June. There is no rain, and no relief from the tormenting heat in sight.
What is most disturbing to Charlie and me is not the effect the drought is having on our carp by fly activity. The discouraging part of this years weather is what effect it is going to have on the dramatic comeback of the bass and pan-fish population. For years, five, six, or maybe seven years, the pan-fish and bass communities were seemingly non-existent, but, this year they have bounced back in what would seem record numbers. But now, with the drought, low flow, diminishing water, these fish are in a battle to stay healthy. It saddens both Charlie and me.
As far as carp by fly, yes, it has had an effect on our efforts. Charlie feels like he's in a slump, but, I would argue he's not in a slump at all. It's simply the situation - the conditions. There are a half-a- dozen places on the creek we found carp regularly last year and this year we have found none. The beeves have migrated to the wider, deeper and shaded water. When the beeves go on the feed, they muddy the water as they graze. Since there is little streamflow the pastures become muddy and cloudy and turn into constant darkness. Here, the carp are beyond the sight of the angler and leaves the angler to blind fishing, which, is nowhere near as effective, or fun, as sight-fishing.
Saturday on the creek, the locust were in concert performing their raspy music for the inhabitants of the creek. Normally, the locust don't make music until mid or late July. Two prolific springs appear to be near stopping their flow. One appears to have already done so, the other is discharging at three gallons a second. Three gallons a second is scarce in itself and then there is the processes of evaporation and absorption. Three gallons a second discharge into a struggling creek during drought is like fighting a three alarm fire with a single fire hose. Things here on our creek are not looking good.
Fish are a lot like us - they feel stress. Even the durable carp has a point that conditions will start to take a toll on the creature.
Think I'll take a summer sabbatical of sorts and let the carp be until the rain comes.
|Some branches have ceased to flow.|
|Creek running thin during drought.|
|Despite the absence of rain, shaded areas remain green and wildflowers are battling to stay bright.|