Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Carp-Slam V Recap - The Big Picture

As I posted Sunday my partner Clint Packo and I went out this weekend and won CarpSlamV.  I promised a full recap.  We hooked allot of fish and that was a ton of fun.  We eventually landed enough fish that it became pretty clear that we were coming out on top.  That was exhilarating.  We got to be big deals at the after-party and that was exiting and good for the old ego.

Off The Shnide?  (Picture by Darrin Ochsner)

Yes, Off The Shnide! (Picture By Darrin Ochsner)
Fly Be Free!  (Picture By Darrin Ochsner, Color Adjusted)
With a little time to digest the event I cannot really say catching fish or even winning was the most profound aspect of the event.  Catching this first fish to get off the shnide was a great feeling and winning was even better but with some luck I will catch more fish.  With a little more luck I may even win again.  Therefore I am going to skip the blow-by-blow and let some pictures do the talking.  Instead I want to talk about the big picture that really made this year’s event special. 

Team Work!  (Picture by Darrin Ochsner)
One of the best things about the day was fishing with Clint as a part of a team.  Not as a pro and an amateur but really and truly as a team.  No matter how obsessed or passionate, somebody who fishes as a hobby simply cannot have the same depth of knowledge and experience as a long time professional like Clint.  These guys have lived a significant amount of their life completely immersed in fly fishing and it shows.  Nevertheless, emotion does not always square with reality!  Clint recognized that on an emotional level I wanted to fish as equal partners and he completely and totally embraced the idea.  I am sure it helped that I really am a bit of a ringer but it still required that he swallow any ego he had coming into the event.  That does not seem to be a difficult thing for Clint to do at all.  What a great and humble guy.  I am extremely grate-full and it would have been a great experience regardless of the outcome.   

Clint's First Fish of The Day.  Whys Everybody Gotta Be Disrespecting The Sucker?

Undoubtedly the most profound aspect of the competition this year was what it is starting to mean to the fly fishing for carp community.  Everybody involved has worked hard to expand the social aspects of the Slam and as a result the event is really starting to become more than just a competition.  There were seminars.  There were pre-parties to the pre-party.  There were after-parties to the after-party.  There were carpers and photographers flown in from all across the country to participate in practice sessions and the competition.  There were countless spontaneous BS sessions for months ahead of time wherever two carpers might bump into each other.  I an sure that every fly-shop employee in the metro area is sick to death, and not just because of the stench.

Target Aquired! We Did Not Lack For Opportunity.

Finally the official after-party was so well done that there is no question that it was a perfect event to take your wife to.  My wife had as much fun as I did.  She is my best friend and having my best friend there to participate in the fun was priceless!
You Wanna Peice of This??? CarpSlamVI, Take It If You Can!
The revolution needs to stand up and take notice.  For now at least, the epicenter of fly fishing for carp culture is at the Slam.  Call it the Comicon or Burning-man for carpers.  Call it whatever you want but get your butt on a plane, a car, a bicycle or a pink bus.  Whatever it takes, get there.  This years amateur champion will be there, take my title if you can! 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

2011 DTU Pro-Am Carp-Slam Champions!

Yesterday Clint Packo and I won the DTU Pro-Am Carp-Slam championship with 5 carp totaling something around 110".  What a rush! 

After a long day fishing and quite a bit more alcohol than I have consumed in a long long time (years possibly) I am way too tired to give a full recap.  I will get around to it sometime this week but wanted to at least get the news out.  Here are some initial thoughts:
  • Clint caught 3 and I caught 2 which means it was a team effort and that made it all the sweeter!      
  • The Trouser Worm was very productive with something on the order of 10 hook-ups and was clearly the MVF (most valuable fly).   Saying it was the fly that won it would be silly because that is not how fly fishing for carp really works.   Nevertheless it is a great fly and definitely helped.  That felt good.   Really good!
  • Clint can present a fly like nobody I have ever fished with.  On one particular presentation he threw a 60 foot single handed spey cast to feed a tailing carp mid-river.  The placement, the drift, the action he put on the fly and the take were all absolutely picture perfect.  It was the most beautiful fishing moment I have ever witnessed.  We didn't even land that fish but I don't care.  It was art pure and simple. 
  • Our controller Darrin Ochsner was awesome.  We ran him absolutely ragged in 95F heat and the smile never once left his face. 
  • DTU and the sponsors have taken this whole tournament to a new level.  In case you are not aware, all of the proceeds go to benefit the South Platte.  What a great deal for the river that so many of us love, I am proud to have participated! 
  • Many thanks to my own supporters.  Our extended team was relatively small compared to some others but evidently supperior in Karma!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Some Carp Fly Ramblings

McTage's Trouser Worm
I wanted to mention that I have finally gotten around to deciding on a name for my head-stand worm carp fly.  Typing out head-stand worm or just calling it "the worm" for short was getting old.  If anybody cares, henceforth it will be dubbed "Trouser Worm".  It is kinda crass but has been stuck in my head so long that nothing else would do.  If you want to go calling it "McTage's Wee Little Trouser Worm" that is fine too, I am secure in my manhood.

Without Color Adjustment!
Secondly, being relatively new to things I had no idea that you could so easily improve the color of digital pictures.  I just figured out that the software I use (IrfanView) has something called "auto adjust colors".  It is like black magic.  You push that button and on every single picture the color is more vibrant and real.  I have no idea how the software knows, it just knows, but expect my pictures to improve!

Finally I put a new under-water fly video of a commercially tied Egan's Head-Stand on you-tube.  The original head-stand has a much subtler action than the flies I have been working on recently and uses significantly less weight.  The lack of weight combined with a decent amount of drag means that this fly has a pretty slow drop which is a little limiting when I am fishing current.  I usually only break it out when I really need less splash-down and a milder action. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Kickin Babies (AKA Trout Fishing)

Yes that's right.  I actually caught a couple of 7-8" Trout in about an hour this weekend.  Back to my roots and all that since this one was caught within 20 feet of where an eager 12 year old caught his first trout 24 years ago!

Sometimes it is clear why I like Carp fishing so much.  There are so many parallels with the small high country stream fishing I grew up with.  In both cases you have no chance of catching a fish until you can sneak up on a fish.  In both cases it is frequently (but not always!) the case that the less fly line you have out the better.  And there is no doubt that both kinds of fishing are very visual in nature.  Of course the connection falls apart if you inspect it TOO closely since I have never even seen a 7" Carp.  They exist only in rumor and legend.

Mostly this weekend wasn't about fishing though.  Mostly it was about this:

The View Of Town From Our Family Cabin

The top of our big family walk.  Of course there were fish. "Chinese Dad Torture"

Miners Were Tougher Than We Are!
The mine-shaft.  Very old.  Very intimidating.

In Search Of Butterflies.

The family lap dog would repeatedly collapse in some shade and wouldn't move until she received luvin.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Last Carp Slam Practice Day

There have been some subtle examples of pre-slam intimidation and "rod rattling" (B. Reynolds turn of phrase not mine) going around.  Well, I too can play that game.

Game On!

This was a pretty small fish and I didn't exactly slay them on my last practice day, and I don't bear much resemblance to a scary and hairy gangsta type but it is the best I can do. 

Overall my practice sessions went great.  I am going in with a fair amount of confidence and the new beats setup (awesome, great job DTU!) got me motivated to fish at least 5 miles of new water in July/August.

As a bonus I hooked a fish on the drop today on prototype #3 and it was an absolutely massive take! 

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Moment

A recurring vision of futility kept jumping in and echoing through my skull at random times all day yesterday and on into the night.

 Part of the vision is painless or even pleasurable.  I see my hastily attached olive ostrich-hearl fly plummeting for the bottom.  The grass carp is casually tailing in some moss when the falling fly catches her eye.  She goes oddly still until just before the fly hits bottom and then she explodes in a blurred shape across a foot and a half of mossy bottom. 

For a take over such a distance you must pause.  You must control the urge to set the hook immediately and endure the moment.  The moment lasts a split second but it seems longer.  The moment is full of suspense and slightly disjointed as a compartment of your mind steps back and coolly watches the action in slow motion while holding another more predatory and instinctual part frozen like a cat just before it pounces.  Eventually an alarm goes off in your head, the predator part of your brain is freed into jolting motion and you set the hook.   

This time my vision of the moment is haunting.  As the scene progresses the part of my mind watching the action seems to go blurry and hazy.  I can still see the carp in motion but there is no recognition or meaning to the scene.  The moment flows over into eternity.  No alarms, no bells and no transition.  I feel repeatedly impotent and powerless as over and over again I watch my suppressed predator give nothing but a feeble and belated hook-set.  With just the barest sensation of fly bumping mouth the fish reverses direction and thrusts for deeper water.

I have not yet caught a grass carp, or at least not one that counts.  At 20+ pounds this particular grass carp is the only fish in my favorite pond that is over 8lb and I have only seen her 6 times.  I have only had three shots.  I have now botched two incredibly aggressive and visually stimulating takes from this supposedly vegetarian carp.  Sometimes in life we only get a couple of chances at something special, here is hoping for another.

In case anybody is curious here are the two flies that this particular grass carp has attacked.  They couldn't be more different.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

When Something Getting Broken is Just Cool

I just noticed that Will Rice has actually broken the dial on his Carp Slam competitor page donation meter!  That is very impressive and a heck of a good deed by him and all his supporters to benefit the Denver South Platte!

I find this fascinating because the organizers essentially decided they were going to empower all the competitors to be little mini fund-raisers for the cause.  I can't imagine they figured it would work out as well as it has but it is a great (and very creative) idea that similar organizations should take note of.  Power to the people!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

CARPTORIOUS: Dazed and Confused

Towards the end of a very successful day stalking carp I decided to try an odd technique I was shown a couple of years ago.  First you casually stalk out onto a bridge, lean over the edge and sight some carp.  Pretty easy so far right?  Now perch yourself on the edge of the bridge and try getting a fly into the zone 30 to 40 feet directly below you while fighting current, wind and gravity.  Try detecting the take and setting the hook.  Somehow figure out how to keep a peeved carp on your hook and out of the pilings while you scramble desperately for the end of the bridge and claw your way down to shore.  All in all it is not the thing for me but it was kind of interesting!

This is far from routine but the oddest part was that while carefully orchestrating a picture of my first bridge carp I realized I had not removed my fly.  Except I was somewhat sure I had removed my fly and absolutely sure that my fly was not huge and olive.  I was momentarily dazed and confused.  Anybody missing a NearNuff Crayfish?  Partially used, but still in good condition! 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Proto-Flies: Working on New Head-Stand(s)

I have been thinking for some time that I need another version or two of my head-stand carp flies.  My head-stand worm is very interesting in that I often get takes on the strip.  That was the intention of the design - to have a worm pattern that was more flexible in the presentation.  Still, I am a little surprised.  After all, how often does a carp see a red worm swimming along in a rocking, bouncing motion?  Obviously this is more of an attractor / strike trigger response and I attribute it to the action rather than the overall worminess of the fly.  Perhaps I can get even more takes on the strip if I combine that action with a little more body and a crayfishy color scheme.

I will publish recipes if / when the design(s) get finalized and catch carp but at first glance what do people think?  Any winners?  Any ideas?  I am thinking of some combination from #1 and #3.   

Off-topic, I am really digging what I can do with my underwater camera now that I am getting the hang of it.  Keep tuned, I am going to try and make under-water videos of the drop and strip behavior of a bunch of carp flies.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


The river is finally back in play and I have been itching to get after it.  Really nutso crazy itching to get after it.  Saturday afternoon I couldn't stand it any more, gave my wife the puppy-dog eyes and scored three hours on the river.

It seems that I have miles and miles of river to learn and no time to learn it so I hit a new section.  The first hour I worked upstream as fast as possible.  I took the occasional shot but was mostly moving and shaking. 

On the way down it was a whole new me.  On the hunt, focused and moving slow.  If it looks like this carp has a sparrow attached to it's lip that's because the fly is large (size 4 Primordial Crust) and the fish is SMALL (4lb wet).  It exciting though because I got this fish on a blind active swing through impenetrable shadow with just enough upstream mend to slow it down and small slow strips to give it some life.  I have been working on that presentation and it has payed off several times over the past year.

Monday, August 1, 2011

We Have A Winner

The winner of the Carp Slam Donation Contest is John Montana from the blog Carp On the Fly.  The loot (15 Carp flies in a Days Worth fly box) will be in the mail any day now.  I even put myself on lock down and only threw in one unproven prototype.   

The Loot
In the NBA he would have had no chance.   Due to a generous donation he had a 1 in 3 chance and the numbers fell his way.  Eat your heart out David Stearn.  We at Fly-Carpin are neither subject to your lottery fixing shenanigans nor important enough that anybody would care otherwise.

This worked out pretty well and we earned $160 to benefit the South Platte.  I will leave out the names in case anybody cares about privacy but both the river and I are extremely grateful to:

John Montana (From Carp On The Fly)
Ty (From Finewater)
My Uncle
A friend at DTU
My Wife
My Mother-In-Law

Look carefully and it looks allot like grandma buying a bunch of nasty cookies she cant even eat on her diet just because she loves her grandkids.  Grandmas are the best and so are these people!