Sunday, June 21, 2015

Carp (!) Trip -Day 3

The proprietor of the Mexican restaurant said he saw us pull in and had fresh coffee brewing.
In his excellent English he asked, "the usual?"  It seems that we had made some good decisions this trip.

Breakfast completed, we towed the boat across to the "other side", our tents and sleeping bags now stuffed into their nylon bags and crammed into corners of our vehicles.

This was our last hurrah.

We poled the island bay making certain not to get distracted by the smallies and headed out to the carping grounds where we saw three wading anglers with long rods looking for the same.  The current at the point pulled like a tidal rip and I wondered at the cause as I stood on the platform ruddering the boat while being pushed along at 3 knots. We saw no carp.

We entered a small bay within the larger bay and spooked a big fish in 6 feet of time to take a shot at it.  We moved in toward shore and after a while found turbid water caused by wave action over a soft bottom.

We also found the carp.

It was decided that the slap of the waves on the hull and the density of fish near shore equaled anchoring up on a shell beach and having a go at it on foot.

Off the beach trough, filled with chuff and junk from the waves and wind, McSteel found his eater.
I was down the shore 50 yard when I heard him whistle.  I sprinted past him for my camera and snapped away as he landed, admired and released the only carp of our Carp Trip.

As the wave height built and the midday sun played hide and seek behind the clouds, we shoved off dodging the rocks and reefs, all the while trying too keep following seas from filling the Battle Skiff and ruining a perfect weekend.

Twenty minutes later, behind the protective breakwall of the marina, I looked at McSteel and said, "I'm good, you?" 
"Yep..." he said.

And that, was that.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Carp (?) Trip - Day 2

Mr. T was already into a Bloody Mary and beer chaser when I parked my truck and trailered boat across four parking spaces at the Mexican restaurant like I owned the place.  

McSteel and I sat down and sipped at our first cups of hot coffee in an effort to make the aftertaste of toothpaste and vodka go away.  Checking the radar for wind and precipitation, we ordered the same combinations of eggs, beans and rice, certain that what the coffee couldn't kill, the hot sauce would certainly mask.

The plan was to drive to the "other side" again and see what we could see and to double down on the carp.  Mr. T had some family obligations so he planned to follow us and then get dropped off at the dock after an hour or two of nosing around the shallows with us.

We pulled into the launch and I could tell right away that things weren't as we'd hoped.  A stiff breeze out of the south and cloud cover...not good for what we wanted to do.  Checking the map we reached consensus on a new destination that offered some cover from the wind.  In the game of sight fishing you can't control the clouds, but when you are dealing with bays and islands, there are ways to cheat the wind.

It was probably 10 AM before the Yamaha did it's best to push three guys and gear across the bay to the lee side of a point.  I'd never fished 2 guys in the Battleskiff, and I figured that one would sit on the cooler in the well while the other stood on the nose gunner's post and fire away.  Instead, McSteel and Mr. T each picked up rods and split the deck.  It takes two very good casters (both righties) to pull of what they did.  It looked like a "A River Run's Through It - The Ballet".

Though the skies were dim we were able to spot a few bass and exactly zero carp.

The wind kicked around and the chop picked up as Mr. T suggested that his allotted time was about up and asked if we'd take him back to the launch.

Though brief, it was good to have him on-board.

McSteel and tied up at the dock and watched the weather.  The front moved  through and the wind died enough for us to push back out.  The rain was feeble so we ignored it.  We motored out and began to pole and squint through the gray clouds reflecting off of the water.   Within an hour the wind kicked back up and we motored out to an island to wait for it to pass.

By 2 PM we were deep into the shelter of a bay picking smallmouth off the top on gurglers again.  The wind was down and the rain was essentially done.  The fish were everywhere and McSteel would only accept fish that would take a fly on top.  The water clarity allowed us to see everything within 70 yards of the boat, even with full cloud cover.  We were back in the game.

The front moved completely through late in the afternoon and though the clouds stayed on, we started poling a stretch of shoreline on the "outside" that gave us the added benefit of a high treeline silhouette on the water.  The view was incredible.  Spotting fish after fish, casting, twitching and then waiting to see if it would tilt up like a cutthroat or hard charge it like a pike.

 What started out as questionable day eventually turned into something quite memorable.

As evening edged toward night, I stepped down from the platform, stowed the push pole and fired up the motor.   The ride home was on water that can only be described as textured glass.  It's my favorite kind of water to run in.

Back at camp we toasted another successful day and headed out to see what kind of trouble we could get into.  The trouble came in the form of Norwegian Festival happening in one of the nearby towns.  We sampled some traditional fare and then sought out the beer tent only to find out from the local Lions Club folks that this was a "dry town".  (I didn't even know that was a "thing" outside of the Bible Belt).   We found a perch on one of the town docks and took in most of the fireworks display before beating a fast retreat ahead of the masses attending the light show.

It was determined only 15 minutes later back at the tents that our camp was decidedly NOT dry.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Carp Trip - Day one

The plan was loosely devised last winter and only inked in late May.  In the past, McSteel and I had tried fishing a certain Great Lakes area for carp in August and early June.  Both were unsuccessful.  "They're not here yet" and, "they're long gone", were the reports we got from both of those trips.  This year we decided to shoot for Mid-Late June.  With the blessings from home to spend Father's Day Weekend fishing, we both pulled a Friday off and hit the road Thursday night.

You can always tell that the need to take a trip is long past due when a four hour drive seems to take 90 minutes and every song (on shuffle) sounds good.

I beat him to the campsite by an hour but had only taken my first pull off an icy beer when his headlights lit up my freshly set tent and camp chair, which, comprised the sum total of my "making camp" plans on this trip.  Within a few minute his chair and tent completed the symmetry of our base and he cracked a cold one and had a seat.

At 4:30 the birds announced the start of a new day, but being the savvy anglers were are, we knew that sunlight and visibility were critical so we temporarily shut out the very nature we came to enjoy in favor of a few more hours of sleep.

I rolled out at 7.  By 8 we were seated at the only occupied table in the Mexican restaurant, ordering beans and rice and eggs and hot stuff to put on beans and rice and eggs.

At 9 were were launching the Battle Skiff into one of our great lakes, the Yeti was freshly iced and carried enough calories to keep us on the water all day.  We had between us, 4 or 5 rods, spools of tippet and enough flies to throw a confetti party if the need for such a celebration should present itself.

It was probably 9:30 before the first carp swam by.  A big, dark, moving contrast from the brightly lit flats we were poling.  The fish made its way to a back bay and we, with no plans and full day in which to complete them, followed.

In terms of a carp mission this was a HUGE mistake.

We found the carp and even a few more.  The tragedy was that they were mixed in among so many smallmouth bass willing to take a topwater gurgler sputtering across the surface, we lost our focus and the day morphed into what can only be described as spectacular smallmouth fishing.

When the first fish cast to inhales your fly, raises hell and then tapes out at just shy of 20 is forced to do some soul searching.  What is the reason of life?  Why are we here?

As it turns out, we are here to take full advantage of whatever opportunities present themselves.

Today it was smallmouth.  And so the morning went...

Though we spent a few hours in the afternoon taking shots at carp (of which there were many), we only had a handful of fish track the fly and nobody seemed too hungry.  Recounting the vicious grabs from the smallmouth, we abandoned our initial mission for the second time and turned back to the eager smallies.

Later, around the campfire with most all of a bottle of Grey Goose dispatched, I yawned the yawn of the good tired, and noticed a stitch in my side and concluded it was most likely the side effects from giggling like a school boy all day.

I'd love to write you a post with a moral, a tidbit of wisdom or even a punchline, something witty to leave you with.  But, when the assignment is to write a descriptive essay on perfection, words fail... You'll just have to try and understand the alignment of stars that allow for two friends to have a day on the water like you've only read about.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Vertigo OR The Art of Poling After Dark

KZ was kind enough to make the 45 minute drive to my hood for a guaranteed night of fishing for I don't know what.  The largemouth were in spawn funk and the big gills never showed.  We had about 10 minutes of solid dryfly carping and then we rolled into the darkness.

Standing on a poling platform in a skinny Mod V jon after the light is gone with the first hatch of mosquitoes buzzing and dive bombing flesh is a new thing for me.  Thankfully I never fell off as that would have been (A.) humiliating and (B.) mostly painful.

KZ teased up a smallish pike which was nice because it gave us a name for whatever the hell it was we were doing.  After he took the pliers to force the hook out of the skull of that feisty (but smallish) dawned on us that we were night fishing for pike.

We did this until the mosquito blood drain caused enough dizziness in my head that I was fearful I might lose balance and fall of my perch.

Luckily, KZ approved of my decision to return to the launch and get gone....

Mama mallard and her lil'uns

KZ on the pole.  Quick study.

Nice evening on the water

Carp...taunting us.

KZ in the nose gunners position

Airing it out

Evidence of a hatch 1

Evidence of a hatch II