Monday, July 21, 2014

Call To Arms: Chatty Carp Rescue

This spring a good number of carp managed to get themselves trapped in a small backwater slough at Chatfield Reservoir in CO.  They moved in for the spawn when the water was high and got trapped when the water dropped.  The slough is about the size of a family home and has somewhere between 20 and 60 carp in it. 

I have been keeping a close eye on those carp and so far they have been doing well.  I even caught one a while back.  

Unfortunately their luck has started to run out.  The high summer temperatures and dropping water table at Chatfield have resulted in a massive drop in depth.  Last weekend it was waste deep in most of the slough.  Now it is knee deep.  At that pace these carp probably only have a week to live. 

I have talked with the Park Manager and he has given us permission to move the carp across the 15 foot wide sandbar from the slough to the main lake.  He indicated that this is the same body of water so we will not be violating the rules against transporting between bodies of water.



So here is the deal.  We are going to save these fish at 6:30PM tomorrow July 22nd.  We are going to meet in the swim beach parking just inside the Wadsworth entrance starting at 6:00PM. The plan is to make a wall of people across the slough and herd the carp into shallow water where we can net them and move them to the main lake.  It could an idiotic plan - sure to result in lots of muddy fun but few saved carp.  I suspect that depends on how many people show up. 

I will supply beer, pop and pizza.  Please email me using my contact page if you would like to come help so that I can plan appropriately!


Friday, July 18, 2014

Carp Fly Colors: Black is the New Black

I have been using black flies here and there for many years, but over the past 6 months it has become a more and more important tool in my arsenal.  I recently realized that a really surprising percentage of the carp I have caught in 2014 have been on predominately black flies.  Like over half - and that got me thinking.  Has black been one of my most effective fly colors all along and I just never realized it?  In order to answer that question I went back through my records and estimated the percentage of total carp caught with a couple of basic color schemes.


The hybrid category is a combination of a red tail with an olive or black body.  The first thing that may surprise you - and certainly surprised me - is how few basic fly color schemes I really fish.  The second thing that may surprise you  - and definitely surprised me - is how may carp I have caught on black in my lifetime. I would have certainly guessed much less than 15 percent,  and when I look at this year the percentage seems to be increasing rapidly, mostly at the cost of rust.  

Almost the moment I finished putting that data together I got an email that was almost creepy in the level of coincidence.  Tim Cammisa wanted to let me know about a new fly tying video he had put up on YouTube - about a black variant of the Trouser Worm!  And THEN within 10 minutes of first publishing this post I ran into this fascinating article about a new material blacker than black.  The carp spirits have spoken and I would be foolish to ignore the message.  Black is the new black.    

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Presenting The Fly to Carp - The Calm Before The Storm

In Football I think they call it happy feet - when a quarterback in never comfortable enough to just settle down in the pocket, set his feet and let the ball fly.   Well, there is an equivalent in Fly Fishing for Carp and I used to have it.  I used to have it bad.  Lets call it the fly fidgets.

Well, over the past year I have finally beat the fly fidgets.  It started in October when I finally got glasses. My improved vision gave me a level of confidence in my presentation and take detecting I had never had before. Those new glasses took a little getting used to, but by December I was knocking it dead.  I couldn't necessarily tell you exactly why - just that the glasses had made some kind of difference.

Then in December John Montana put out a post on not moving your fly.  It was nothing new to me conceptually, but it had always been difficult for me in reality.  Well, at about the same time I got a Go-Pro and I started to get some footage of me hooking carp (video1, video2, video3).  Because of John's post, not moving the fly was central to my mind and upon reviewing that footage I often noticed where there was a moment when I would go completely motionless between presenting the fly and setting the hook. The cool thing was that the video would take me back to those moments and I could re-feel a moment of complete and total calm and confidence.  A moment where time would almost stand still and my fly would not move at all.   A moment that I could clearly recognize as new since I had gotten the glasses and the increased confidence in the presentation the take detection they brought.

Once I re-lived those moments and those feelings, suddenly I found I could capture them. Contain them. Accentuate them.  Now, six months later, not only do I almost never move the fly after presenting it, I have found that there is a whole new and different class of take that I never even knew existed.

A Carp Caught On a Delayed Reaction Take Of The Fly
Previously if a carp did not react to my fly in the first split second after it hit bottom I believed that the carp had not noticed it.  At that point I would try and twitch it or strip it in order to draw attention.  Now I have learned differently.  In the last six months I have learned that some carp - MANY carp - will ONLY take my fly after a delayed reaction of a second or even two without the fly moving!  As a matter of fact, I now think that many carp that I had previously thought unwilling to eat were just more patient than I was. 

Another Carp On A Delayed Reaction Take Of The Fly
It turns out that now we - and by we I mean the carp and I - both have a calm before the storm.  A moment between action and inaction.  A moment when the predator waits but then pounces.  Find that feeling, and your carpin will take a big step forward.  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Video: Standamaran On-The-Water - Day 3

Here is a new video of me fly fishing for carp from my DIY stand up paddleboard.  As a bonus you get to see a carp hand it to me at the end of the video.  They carp are way back up in the trees in this lake due to high water and this one made it into the trees before I could stop it.  That makes for tough landing percentages!


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Standamaran: Maiden Voyage

In my last post about the Standamaran DIY SUP project (Click here for the full history) I had declared it "good enough". After a good forty plus hours of work spread over 5 calendar months I was really anxious to try it out.  Unfortunately, I awoke on my day off to the sound of 15 MPH winds caressing the trees in my back yard.   




I have never been on a surf-board.  I have never been on a stand-up paddleboard.  I have barely been on a kayak, and I tried standing up in that for about 3 seconds before heading to shore to change my underwear.  There was no way in hell I was going to try standing up on this thing the first time in 15mph winds.  Dammit.  I was just going to have to go carpin until the winds died down.  Dammit.  I hate carpin.  Dammit.  Sarcasm is sooooooo lost on the Internet. Dammit, I just recently watched the newest Star Trek Movie and it seems to have affected my vocabulary. Dammit Jim I'm a carper not a writer.

It was a heck of a good day to be hitting the water though.  Better for carpin than standamaran-ing, that is for sure.  In just a few short hours I was well on my way to a double digit day of catching carp on flies.  







That put me in a bit of a pickle. Double digit days are HARD to come by in Colorado.  Should I continue fishing or break out the SUP?   Fortunately the clouds rolled in and saved me the impossible decision.  Dark impenetrable thunder clouds.  The kind that turn the water into an impenetrable mirror and render fly fishing for carp virtually impossible.

I had to dodge or sit out the occasional thunder-storm but over the next couple of hours I put the standamaran through it's paces on increasingly bigger bodies of water.  



The first time I stood up on it I was a bit shaky.  The first though that came to mind was: "Am I really going to be able to fly fish standing up on this thing, or did I just waste a whole lot of time and money?"  It didn't take long though, and within the first 20 minutes I was worrying more about scanning the shallows for carp while paddling in the standing position than maintaining balance.  Within another half hour I was practicing my cast and was easily as accurate as normal.



I can only handle "practicing" for so long though.  Eventually I need real, so after a while I moved on to a small bay where I knew I had a decent chance of finding a few carp on the kind of medium depth flats I had in mind when I started this project.

As I entered the bay I switched to my push-pole.  So much to learn!!!  It turns out that rotating my little boat with a push pole is HARD.  Ridiculously hard.  It is really easy to go straight slower.  It is really really easy to go straight faster.  You want to change course? Hah!!!  Good luck.  So this was the first lesson of the day.  I am either going to need some new skills or add a skeg or rudder to use to pin the back end so that I can rotate around that while poling.

It took a while, but eventually I did manage to get myself lined up and slowly drifting into the bay at the desired depth (about waste deep) and orientation (looking shallow).  Shortly there-after I learned my second critical lesson - speed!  It felt like I was creeping into the bay but I was actually cruising along at a pretty good clip.  Much much faster than if I were wading.  

When a tailing carp suddenly appeared nearly directly in my path it was shocking how fast I was moving and as a result I blew the first presentation.  I blew it BAD.  I can't complain about the second and third presentation though, sometimes you do everything right and you just don't get the eat.   Which brings us to the third lesson - which is that  I am going to be able to get much much closer to tailing carp than I was expecting.  I made the third presentation at 12 feet and was within 8 feet before the carp finally noticed me and bolted for the depths.

Which brings us to the next lesson, and that is that this thing is going to work and it is going to work well.  The very next carp I saw was one I would have never seen on foot in the poor lighting.  It was in about 8" of water over a light sand flat at about 35 to 40 feet.  This fish was cruising slowly and erratically like a shark over a reef and was in total seek and destroy mode.  If I made the presentation I WAS going to get an eat.  Period.  Well, I nailed it.  Put push-pole in armpit.  Strip out 40 feet of line.  Cast to 37 feet, drag to 35 feet and drop it in front of the carp's trajectory.  One tiny twitch for good measure and then kill the fly completely dead.  Easy money,  and because of my elevated station I got to see the carp surge forward and eat the fly in such excruciatingly fine detail that I have barely slept since.  The sequence is burned into my soul.  

I think I learned allot about my new toy in the next couple of minutes.  I am sure I did, but I couldn't for the life of me tell you what because everything turned to chaos at that point.  Between getting dragged 50 feet, stowing the push-pole, getting out the net, fighting and landing the fish all while not falling in i don't remember much.  What a GAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!







Saturday, June 7, 2014

Standamaran: Hot Coat

As you may know, I have a long-running project to build what I hope will be the ultimate carp on the fly floatation.  The Standamaran SUP.  Click here for the full history.  The last we left the project I had just completed the laminate coat.

After you put down the laminate coat, the next step in surf-board building is to apply something called the hot (or fill) coat.  This is a thin coat of resin (epoxy in this case) that fills in all the pits and voids in the fiberglass and smooths things out a little bit.  I used a squeegee spreader to lay down the epoxy and foam brushes to smooth it.  That worked OK, but between the oddly angled surfaces, out gassing issues with the foam blank and a distinct lack of patience when it came to sanding out imperfections in previous steps things got a little ugly.  I am not going to dwell on the details, but suffice it to say the final product is full of enough waves and imperfections to make a professional surf-board builder curl up in the corner and cry.  There are pinholes everywhere.  There are drips, there are blobs. Believe me, the picture doesn't do it justice.


I don't really care though because it seems to be on target functionally.  It seems structurally sound and at 26lb it came in on target for weight.  Although I could clean up the appearance allot by sanding it down and applying another coat of epoxy (called a gloss coat) I decided to save the time, energy and weight and let it ride.   I didn't even sand the fill coat, because ugly is, after all, a secondary concern to functionality.

Well now - that sounds done right?  Except for some rigging I agree, and I finally got it loaded up on the car yesterday ready to go on it's maiden voyage.  More to follow on that when I have time.