Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bringin Home The Digital Bacon

How much of our passion for fishing stems from primordial instincts to bring home some food? For the bulk of man-kinds existence grubbing up some grub took most of our daily energy.  Nowadays we bring home digital bacon.  Ones and zeros that equal spending power in the form of dollars.  Ones and zeroes that capture moments in the form of pictures.  Friday was a great day for bringing home memories in the form of digital bacon. It was a beautifully warm November day in the 60s and the carp were feeding. 

Low light and a slight tannin stain in the section where I started made sight fishing difficult.  At best I could fish to shadows and impressions of fish.  At the worst I had to resort to blind casting with down and across actively swimming presentations.  Seeing the take is great, but the sudden and unexpected feeling of a good sized carp jerking the rod out of your hands has it's own appeal.

Some serious digital bacon

By 11:00 I had hooked three fish in the mid to high teens and all three rate among the hardest, most thunderous takes I have had all year.  They also rate as some of the hardest fighting fish I have faced in months and I was only able to land the 16 pounder above.  In November.  It is amazing how quickly carp can spunk up with some nice weather in the winter.

Backing.  In November?!
Eventually clouds rolled in and stole the remainder of the weak winter sun.  I moved several miles upriver to find some clearer water and started working a section from ambush on the outside of a bend.  I could easily see the carp react to the fly as I plunked it within inches of their head and after a while they made it perfectly clear that neither a dropping nor a swimming presentation was going to draw interest.  As an experiment I switched to a dead-drifting foam trouser worm under an indicator.  Watching an indicator suddenly plunge under the thrust of a 12lb carp also brings a certain thrill.  I have gone 8 years without watching a carp pull down an indicator.  Why?
Thingamabobber?  Whatever works right? 
Two?  Have you no pride man?   No, not really.
 So, this would all seem to indicate that catching carp in the winter is easy.  I guess sometimes it even is.  On the other hand I went back out for a couple of hours today.  I did not fish well, I did not smell a take, I certainly didn't bring home the digital bacon.  I guess it is a good thing that our dinner is brought to us through money and the bounty that is King Soopers because a thousand years ago I would be sleeping on the other side of the lean-to tonight. 


  1. Hello McTage,

    Yours is the first serious indication of someone other than myself and my sons and our group that use them for carp. We use them ALOT. I of course much prefer to see the fish's reaction to your fly, but, here anyway, bad glare, chop, algea stained H20, debris on the water or all of the above is more common than not in the ponds we fish. May I modestly say that this method performs very well, so much it is 90% of the way I try for carp. If the water is as I say it can be, a go to set up is a Cormel "Little Brother Float", a walleye float that makes a superb fly rod bobber, with a #6 Peach Marbled with Salmon Egg tie suspended just at eye level to the fish. Or, a hook up tie I can manipulate, I have many as I know you do. Often, bubbles are all we see, these are of the carp disturbing the bottom, they also dictate the travel direction. It IS exciting to see that float go under! As an aside, I tried at a spring fed pond near my home in Boise, Id., that can be fished for carp year round last Friday, and though it was a 22F morning, and did not warm all that much, I had fish in sight, tough upper water column cruisers that obstinately refused me. As well, I have added your "trouser worm" (too cool!) and soft hackles to my arsenal.

    Best, Gregg

  2. So what happened was he had his trouser worm on a thingamabobber, see, and then...

    Sorry man, random thought as I was reading this post. Beauty of a carp in that first pic. Stellar trip report.

  3. Ty - Congradulations you win the prize for first trouser worm joke! It was only a matter of time, I have been looking forward to it.

    Gregg - There are quite a few guys who use indicators allot on the Denver South Platte with deadly effect. There is also a small but die-hard clan of guys in golden colorado that fish for carp with indicators on stillwater. Thier rigs are fascinating with 2 or even three flies set to different heights between top and bottom of the water column. Nice to hear from you, I would love to learn more about your methods. As a matter of fact, if it sounds like fun drop me an email and we could talk about a guest post. Many carpers parralel evolve to fairly similar methods, it would be good to highlight something very different. That and also it is winter and all fly fishing bloggers are desperate for content :)

  4. Hello McTage,
    Yes I would enjoy discussing techniques, tactics, waters, flies, and pictures possibly with you, thanks for the offer. I am going to try to catch up on your threads as well. I have tried more than one fly, but end up foul hooking fish more than I like, but perhaps I'm not as sophisticated as those you mention. My Trouser Worms differ a bit from yours, I add a 1/8"x3/16" piece of like colred closed cell foam supper glued to the end. It holds the wet rabbit srip up well to better than not having it on at least. We've a pond where people feed bread to ducks, the visibility is crummy usually, but a SUNK wool bread fly cast next to the birds being fed only scant inches under an indicator makes for easy fishing, as far as car go anyway. I don't like to chum myself but I'll let others do it for me. I don't catch those silly ducks to put anyone at ease. It doesn't last long, with my friends and boys fishing this little water hard they become jaded after a bit, but we have caught carp, suckers, pikeminnows and an odd 3lb. trout or two every year on bread flies fished this way.
    Thanks again, Gregg

  5. Yeah, been working up to it. Kinda proud of myself.

    And all this talk about indicators has got me thinking. Definitely going to do some experimenting. Good stuff.

  6. Sweet!

    Wendy Berrell and I have slayed carp under indicators using double rigs of rubber legged hares ears...deadly in the rivers of the Midwest.

  7. Gregg - I too won't chum although I don't have an ethos against it or anything. Just dont sound like as much fun. Will get back with you with questions.

    Ty - I am too jealous of your striper post to talk to you right now :)

    John - I am thinking a tandem rig trouser worm, soft-hackle next time. Not sure which to put on point for drifting though. Used to hammer carp back in the day in a MI river on indicators but my skills are rusty.

  8. Hard takes from a Carp under an indicator--very interesting McTage. I have done a lot of indicator fishing for Trout so I am very familiar with how to do it. I have done a small amount of indicator fishing for Steelhead too. That's all BC though. (BC is Before Carp) I have tried all kinds of indicators (WAY more than the nets) Several years ago I settled on one I particularly like. Hmmm... I believe I will be taking a look at this next spring.

  9. Yeah, it was kinda fun for a change. A little change-up to spice it up ya know?

  10. It worked yet again. The 23rd. I went to pond spring influenced in tough conditions, thick overcast, Columbia Gorge wind surfer paradise breeze all day, steel grey glare. My only access happened to be the only place the carp concentrate in range for me, and it was in the lee of a dike. Fished all day, new soft hackles, others, etc., blind, where I tought they'd be. Just trout. Finally prospected likely places with a marbled white #6 egg tie. Somehow, in a line of wind blown leafs, I saw bubbles erupt through them. Took my cast already made and tossed it there, the egg 4' under my float. A minute later the unseen fish was simply on, landing the big fellow, he had my fly so far down the his mouth I couldn't see it, so he has it now. When conditions are poor, this just works. Fish hook themselves with egg ties often. The indicator, a bait float, did not help this time, but for unseen fish it is a neccessity for me. My only fish of the day.

  11. hah! "Just trout". My feelings exactly. Way to get some in Nov Gregg!

  12. McTage,
    Trout are stocked here for the people of this small community. Some are large, but never holdovers. So, they don't interest me. Yes, my new soft hackles were tried under the worst of circumstances, so I actually expected them. Can't wait to try them when visibility is prime. But, for these cold water unseen fish, my techniques work often enough.


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