Saturday, March 21, 2015

Carp Patrol (with backup)

I headed back out to the flats under high sun and more wind that I wanted.  MK joined me which was nice since it's way easier to fish with two guys in the boat, the boat poles cleaner and the another set of eyes on the water is worth it's weight in gold.

We poked around the upwind side of the flat and then gradually dropped into the wind whipped side where expansive muds were in evidence and we unknowingly blew up fish everywhere.  In places we were in less than 2' of water but still we couldn't spot them. 

We tried fishing blind for a few half hearted minutes and then circled around to the clear water where we spotted a fish, gave chase and MK got off a couple of shots before it vanished.

We learned a few things during our daylong tour of the mudflats...
1. There are a ton of carp on this flat in late march.
2. They are schooled and making mud which makes them really tough to see.
3. There are some smaller fish in the muds, drum perhaps?
4. we have a ways to go before we have this dialed in.

More to come.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Carp Patrol

I was thinking about trout, then thinking about carp.  I went back to trout and then right back to carp.  I pulled the Battle Skiff out of the garage, threw in my 8 wt and headed to the river.  I was all alone at the launch.  The river was looking cold and the ice caked in the shaded parts indicated that it probably was not a great day to get wet.

It felt good to be afloat again.  I fired up the Yamaha and stood straddling the rear seat holding the extended tiller handle I just built.  I gave the grip a twist and damning all the torpedoes...blasted upstream.  It's been awhile since I've been up here and I was watching the water close for new wood or shallow spots.  I thought I remembered the channel, but soon found myself on a giant mud flat in scarcely a foot of water.  I carved "S" turns keeping the prop as high as possible before dropping into a trough and straightening out the plane.

I dropped into a slow idle upstream, scanning the shallow sand bottom for signs of carp.  I ran about 1/2 of a mile up one bank and then down the other.  Nothing.  Back-tracking downstream I went the other way around the island down to where a spring dumps into the widening in the river.

I found the carp.

The downwind side of this section of the river was teaming with fish.  They were possibly feeding but certainly moving, as the water went from gin clear to chocolate milk.  I estimate there were perhaps hundreds of fish in here.  I backtracked and got upwind of the pod (easily a 100 yards wide, this pod of fish).  I dropped the anchor and slowly worked my way down wind into the school, trying to find the edge between clear and stained water, hoping to anchor upwind of the edge and cast to heads moving out of the mud into clear water.  I

It was a nice theory but it didn't work.  I saw mud boils when I got to close but I never saw a fish move through clear water.

I eventually gave up and motored down river, where, after poling around, I found another pod of fish on the downwind side, making the same kind of mess.  I tried to pull my stunt off here too, but again I was foiled.

It looks like I need a new idea.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Early Season Day 2 - less bushwhacking

One half of a mile.  That was all that was left of the little stream.  We could say we fished it from the source to the confluence...all on opening weekend.  It seemed a shame to leave it undone.

I've determined that part of the reason that fish exist in this creek is that you CANNOT get to them.  The bottom is treacherous and the banks are impossible and the stream is a jumble of downed wood.

But still, we tried.

On a positive note, we saw fish.  There was one in particular that I spotted before it spooked.  It held in little over 12" of water and I would have missed it if its shadow didn't offer a mirrored shape of the fish.  It reminded me of bonefishing when the fish are so well camouflaged that the easiest thing to spot is their shadow.  Instead of attempting a cast (which would have invariably been cut short by the bank side brush) I opted for my camera.  I screwed on my polarizing filter and blasted away.  A few minutes went by before JP showed up on the opposite bank and I suggested that he try to get a picture too.

He was almost in position when the fish and the shadow evaporated into a puff of silt.

The story of our day...

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The 2015 Opener - Bushwhacked

January over, February gone.  Many look to the robin or the groundhog for news of spring, I look to the trout.

JP and I spoke a few times over the past couple of days and decided to hit the small trout stream nearest our homes for the opener of the trout season.  It might have been fine to just hot spot from known holes and take what was given, but instead we opted for a full length tour.  We drove two vehicles and dropped one at a bridge access before taking the second to the headwaters, a section neither of us had ever seen.

For the first time in months I was overdressed and ended up stuffing gloves in my pack and leaving an extra layer or two behind in the car. 

It ended up being 2 miles of hiking.  The first mile crunching through the snow next to a mostly iced over trickle surrounded with gnarly undergrowth.  I know that no small part of that mile was spent on my knees trying to steer a 9' fly rod down a rabbit path. 

In retrospect, I think that finding the source of things is a good idea.  On the lower reaches of this spring creek, the water flows crystal clear through prairie land.  The channels, undercuts and watercress offer safe haven for more trout than you would expect.  The culmination of these upper end trickles and rivulets, seepages and springs form a sweet little creek.  But, to come away with the "knowledge of the source" we paid dearly in what a friend of mine recently called "Brush Rage".
The first thing my wife said to be when I got home was, "Are those scratches on your neck?", followed by, "Is that blood on your ear?"

So we came and we saw and we soaked up the sun and cursed and bled, we let our hands hold cork instead of shovels and we almost got skunked.

We were 100 yards from my truck at the end of our long slog, when my line came tight and I landed a 12-13" brown. 

There was no small amount of irony in all of that. 

But then again, perhaps that fish needed to be earned and maybe it was attracted to the blood and elbow grease on my fly.

ways and means


Spring movement

Lunch yesterday (for somebody), Muddler today.


Don't forget to look around

This one held still for the shot...


upper reaches

The end.