Saturday, June 30, 2012

Road Trip!

June has been my worst carpin month not named November, December or January in several years and I am pretty pleased to see it gone.  I have honestly gotten a little frustrated and felt stagnant and burned out with my fishing this month and when Mike proposed a half day road trip to Greeley to visit fellow carper Mikey I was all-in.  The change of scenery was just what I needed.

There looks to be some great carp water in Greeley.  There are allot of small bodies of water scattered through town.  We checked out two small lakes and two ponds.  Two of the three were busts, one had serious big-fish potential and one was flat-out sweet.  This lake had a good variety of bottom structure with some really nice flats and decent clarity.  The fish seemed to be on the smaller size but there was a steady stream of singles moving up and onto a 100 yard stretch of flat and tailing in inches of water.  Each time I would walk up and down that stretch I was rewarded with 1 to 3 good shots.

I was getting great shots but these fish were ultra-spooky.  I was hitting my spots really well (pumped about that) and the fish were feeding hard but almost every single one of these fish ran from the fly in sheer terror as soon as they saw it.  I suspect they get quite a bit of pressure!

I don't care.  I haven't been getting many days with lots of shots this month.  I had a blast and felt quite satisfied to finally find a fly (drab brown egan's headstand) that at least one fish didn't spook on.  Of course Mike and Mikey both did a fish or two better than I did chucking small un-weighted egg patterns.  This has been a trend lately and if it continues I am going to have to give in and take the egg pattern more seriously.            

Thanks for showing us some new water Mikey! 
This week we are headed up to our Cabin in the Mountains.  If I can find my trout gear I might go kikin some babies.  We will see, it is a family vacation and I seriously don't know where my trout gear is.  Another nice change of pace / scenery regardless.  The week after that I head to Oregon to visit John Montana for a serious hard core fly-carpin change of pace!  Yeah baby!     

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I feel like there is a hole in the on-line fly-carpin community.  We need a forum to call home.  The revolution needs a safe-house and I think I know the place. 

General forums are fun and important but all it takes is one troll who has made up his mind against carp to give you a bad taste in your mouth. 

The blog-sphere is so full of great carp content that I can't keep up but blogs are a bit of a one-way conversation.  Without the comments bloggers treasure so dearly a blog could really be considered mental masturbation.

A couple of months ago I considered starting my own fly fishing for carp forum on Fly-Carpin.  I also considered starting a facebook group.  Then I realized, why bother?!  USCARPPRO has a great online forum dedicated to fly fishing for carp.  We just need to get it rolling a little bit. 

There are many attractive things about the USCARPPRO forum:
  1. Dave Smith from USCARPPRO has shown the fly fishing for carp community a ton of love over the past year.  I have no idea if he is infected with it or not, but it is obvious that he truly respects our particular form of madness.
  2. Although you do need to set up an account, the forum is free.  Beyond free really because when you sign up for the forum you automatically get a subscription to their on-line magazine.  Which is also free.
  3. If you ask good quality questions you will not just get responses from fly-guys.  You will often get some good feedback from Euro-style experts as well.  Lets repeat that: EXPERTS.  Some of them fly-fish on the side, some of them don't.  They will not always understand your perspective and you will not always understand theirs but these guys really know their carp.
So I am proposing that the revolution moves in.  I will start.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sporting New Threads

Can't say as I am a carp catching machine lately but at least I am sporting some sweet new threads.

Thanks To Kevin Morlock and Indigo Guide Service at Third Coast Fly my wardrobe is now nearly as obsessive as I am.  Maybe someday me and my new threads will get to visit the promised land...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fly-Carpin's Believe it Or Not

Yesterday my friend Mike Medina fair hooked and landed this 34lb Asian Bighead Carp on an olive Marabou Leach in a local pond.

Mike Medina with a 34lb Asian Bighead carp caught on a fly

You didn't know we had them in Colorado?  Well neither did DOW until Mike alerted them to this population.  Not that they are particularly interested since after all Bighead Carp "can't breed in ponds".  What, haven't they ever seen Jurassic Park?

From Wikipedia:
Bighead carp are considered a highly destructive invasive species in the United States. Bighead carp and the closely related silver carp (H. molitrix) were imported to the United States to remove excess or undesirable plankton and thus improve water quality in sewage treatment plants and aquaculture facilities. However, some fish escaped into the Mississippi River basin, where they are now firmly established. 

Never mind that these fish are threatening to cause a national disaster in the mid-west.  Never mind that this fish had pounds and pounds of eggs in her belly.  Never mind that Mike has captured babies there.  Never mind that there are literally dozens of them which would seem to defy bucket biology.  Never mind that Mike has seen them in the next pond down which is one step closer to the Denver South Platte!  Anybody for a nice quality session of head in the sand?  It's quite pleasant, everybody is doing it.

Hypocrisy!  Foul!  Well yeah, I do happen to be quite fond of another "invasive" species the Common Carp, but well, you see, they are prime targets on the fly while Bighead Carp are primarily filter feeders..  One man's masterpiece is another man's trash-fish I guess.  Or so I think the saying goes.  

At any rate off the soap box and back on the story because it is interesting.  Mike has been targeting these for a couple of years now with a wide variety of flies and has been progressively been getting smaller and smaller.  Evidently they have amazing eye-sight because they always drop below or around flies as small as size 18 with their mouths happily wide open the whole way.  Yesterday he was blind casting an un-weighted olive marabou leach and for some reason that did the trick.  Of course, Bighead carp swim around filter feeding with their ridiculously huge mouths wide open so Mike figures there is a distinct possibility that this time the fly just happened to flush down the toilet so to speak.  Lets just ignore that possibility though OK?  After all 20 years ago anybody would have told you that Common Carp won't eat flies.  Besides, it is a much better story that after hundreds of hours of effort one very stubborn angler just won.  Of course I could have saved him some time.  It turns out that the best fly for filter feeders is called the "scuba diver"

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Weather and Fishing and Carp

 The weather is honestly irrelevant for most fisherman.  We pretend to obsess and worry about it but most real people living real lives don't really get to pick and choose when they get to fish.  Really. 

This weekend I had the pass for a full day chasing carp on the fly on Sunday with my friend Mike.  As early as Thursday it was clear that a 15 to 20 degree cold front was moving in Saturday night.  I should have bailed and I knew I should have bailed.  But, well, you know.  Obsession and all that. 

When I do have the flexibility to pick and choose my time on the water there are really only three and a half things that I pay attention to when it comes to weather and catching carp on fies. 

1)  Yesterday:  Unless the temperature is going to be relatively cold (<50deg) or really really hot (>100) I don't actually care much what the daily high is going to be but really care about how it compares to yesterday.  Carp seem to prefer stability above all else and it seems like the best days happen when the weather is just like it was yesterday and preferably the day before.

2)  Sun:  Sun is a paradox in Colorado.  For sight-fishing you want pure blue skies and mid-day sun but in Colorado the high altitude makes the sun very harsh and it turns out that carp are fairly light sensitive.  In Colorado it seems like the best sun for sight-fishing is often the worst sun for sight-catching.  While too much cloud cover can be a disaster the best days are just barely ever so slightly over-cast.  Those seem to come around about 3 to 4 times a year in Colorado and weather reports don't tell you when they are coming so they are barely even worth hoping for.

3)  Wind:  Carp can demand extremely precise presentations and nothing hurts your presentation like the wind.  For bass and Pike I used to set the limit where I knew I was going to have a tough day somewhere around 20mph.  For carp my threshold seems to be somewhere around 15 or even 10mph.  I may still manage to catch carp at 15 but I am going to be one frazzled SOB by the end of the day.

3.5)  The night before Christmas:  As you may know I fly fish for carp all Winter.  People are always curious about what weather I look for in the Winter.  This time of year I am very concerned about the trends but also pay particular attention to the overnight low.  A stable or warming trend of above average temperatures gets my attention but combine that with an overnight low above 50deg and you are talking vacation day.

So how did we do Sunday?  I would rather not talk about it but the month of the mirror seems to be going strong since the only fish we landed in 13 man-hours of fishing was this cool little mirror Mike suckered into taking an egg pattern.  Weather.  Sucks.    

Mike's Small Mirror

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Ultimate Flotation for Carp On The Fly?

Flats boat?  Kayak?  Pontoon?  That's not how hard-core rolls.  Introducing the ultimate flotation for carp on the fly. 

The hillbilly flats boat.
With a 6" draft, factory installed safety foam and seating capacity that increases proportionally to your level of intoxication this is going to change everything.

Available soon at the local illegal dumping grounds near you.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


The yellow version of the Carp-Stew finally came out of the box to play today and fairly quickly into a short lunch outing I hooked and landed this beautiful mirror carp.

The water was crystal clear today and the first thing I noticed was that the yellow color scheme has remarkable visibility in clear water.  It really stands out and I was able to track the fly much better than usual.  Judging the location of your fly is extremely helpful in recognizing and timing takes but can sometimes be difficult, particularly in current.  In the case of this mirror carp the increased visibility of the yellow color combo was critical and made for a very memorable take.

This was a straight-on shot where the fish was swimming very slowly straight towards me after leaving a rubble pile that it had been aggressively scouring for several minutes while I waited patiently for a clear shot.  I was incredibly lucky that it emerged on my side and I wasted no time casting the fly behind the fish and drawing it slowly down the side of the fish and letting it dive forward past it's eye and several inches in front of it's mouth.  As the fly dropped forward and down through the field of view the fish pulsed it's lips and flared it's gills without accelerating.  If you cannot see your fly your immediate reaction HAS to be to set the hook and hope the fish managed to get the fly or you will miss many takes.  In this case however I could clearly see the fly and knew that due to the tension I had on the line the carp had not managed to actually suck in the fly.  

This happens sometimes, particularly with head-on shots with vacuum takes where the carp does not accelerate.  You are effectively taking the fly away from the carp unless you relieve tension at the right time which is really hard to do since that first pulse of the lips is always a surprise.  Since I knew that the carp had missed the fly I knew to give one short slow strip and hope for a re-take.  The carp accelerated slightly for the fly and once again pulsed but not before I had finished the strip and once again I could clearly see that the carp had missed.  On the second strip I changed the timing ever so slightly and was able to put the fly into free-fall prior to the third and final pulse and I could clearly see the fly go backwards prior to setting the hook.  Like I said, a memorable take.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ode To Stank

Thy name be Stank,
your odor is rank,
my wife will never get you.

You've have suffered my noggin, 
all the years I've been floggin
the verdant brown waters of carp.

Carpe Carpio Fishing Hat

A treasured gift from a carper, 
though your look has been sharper,
so too has mine.

While some find you horrific, 
The carp know your terrific, 
And someday I may even wash you.