Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Big C 2011: Invasion Of The Carp

I spent the past four days fly fishing the Columbia river for carp with John Montana.  It is difficult, if not impossible for me to give a full blow-by-blow of my visit.  There is too much.  To many visions of fish ghosting into view through waving flooded grass, brambles, tree trunks and even barbed wire fences.

Only fair to release it to it's side of the fence.  Looks awkward? You should have seen us land it.
Dreamy slow motion images of fish gently sucking in the fly amidst total chaos run non-stop through my weary head.

At times it was kind of creepy, but it was also beautiful
There were at least 20 carp in front of me.  What, can't you see them?
The most remarkable aspect of the trip was the situation we faced due to the high water in the Columbia River.  If, like me, you have never been there things looked fairly normal from the road.  A really big river looks like a really big river.   Evidently for those that know it the river defied recognition with the main river flooded to the point where scuba fishing with a spear was more realistic than fly fishing. 

The grass carp are soooooo jealous
Once you got down to the level of the river the extremity of the situation became more clear.  Any and all low-lying planes of vegetation near the river were hiding a dirty little secret.  Two dirty little secrets.  First, they were all flooded.  In many areas the flood plane ran at least a quarter mile from the river.  Second, carp had marshaled the stinking hordes and performed a massive invasion of this low lying flooded vegetation. 
John Deep Deep In The Shit - And Yes, He Hooked Up!

For now and the foresee-able future any nearby parks, grass fields, shrub-land and farm pastures are no longer the purveyance of man.  This is now carp country folks.

The carp were totally game for a picnic

Turtle grass in Oregon?  Nah, just good old park lawn

I remember as a child having dreams of how bizarre and interesting it would be to live through a flood.  I am sure that most kids have had these visions at some point.  Pictures of floating a canoe down main-street and fishing from your front porch.  The reality is no dream of course.  Floods ruin many lives and livelihoods every year.  Nevertheless, I could feel that childlike fascination creeping in many times over the trip and it truly was amazing to not only fish, but have significant success in these conditions.  Thank you so much John, I will never forget this experience!

How significant was the success?  We will get to that eventually, but if you just can't stand cliff-hangers take a jaunt over to Carp on the fly for the skinny.
Obligatory one-hander.  Eat your heart out WFF, I found a 6lber!


  1. "scuba fishing with a spear was more realistic than fly fishing" -- awesome post!

  2. Wish i was along for the ride with you two guys, that is some epic flood stage carping...

  3. Awesome opportunities and efforts. Wish you guys could send some of that excess water down this way... along with a few of those massive carp.

  4. @emb: Ever read that one book about spear-fishing the oil rigs? Forget the name but it was the most riveting fishing book I have ever read.
    @Mark: We did do some verbal daydreaming while driving around about getting a big group of the carp-bloggers together somehow somewhere. Since I can't even organize my own sock drawer I am not sure how we would go about it though.
    @Barry: I am sure John (and the core of engineers) would give over the water in a heartbeat if they could. Good luck on the massive carp though...John is pretty fond of those.

  5. No, I have not read it...although now I am very intrigued. I'm a librarian...I'll find it!

  6. Thanks again for making the treck out here Mctage...I appreciate the effort that took. Thanks for being a good sport about the river conditions too man...I know this wasn't what we had in mind during the planning stages but we made it work!

  7. i love how dark that carp is. you boys really tore it up out there!

  8. Great report and glad to hear you were able to get into a few despite the flooding!

  9. Dang, I would love to fish in conditions like that one of these days. Looks like a lot of fun. You guys caught some beasts out there. Great report!

  10. @John - it was pretty easy to be a good sport...we were dragging them in hand over fist compared to what I am used to :)
    @TroutDawg - I was pretty surprised to get back and not have at least a little flooding of our own. Not sure how in the heck the water can still be below average. Makes no sense.

  11. Fantastic Outing!!!! I am still in amazement that some flyfishers just simply refuse to pursue and pitch flies to Carp..(?!?!?!?!?????).. but on the plus side, it means less competition and more carp for those us who Know better... ;)

  12. Dean - John and I talked about that non-stop on the trip. Baffling, but to each there own just like a poker tournament, dead money aint such a bad thing.

  13. I have seen a lot of guys out west try the carp thing...once. Fish out here are not aggressive and it isn't easy to catch them until you figure out what a take looks like. I think a lot of guys get frustrated casting at tons of fish that won't chase their clouser swimming nymph.

  14. Jealous, sort of. Wish I had the time to do it right when the flats fishing was red-hot here. I have a feeling there's fish to be had all summer, so I'll go back. Looks like a very memorable trip. Keep chasing the dragon...


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