This fall has been pretty ridiculously good around these parts, but over the last several days we have had a cold spell. I sense that the weather seems to have finally turned a corner of sorts towards the cold depths.
I think the carp can sense a difference as well. The fish behavior yesterday had shifted noticeably in the two weeks I have been absent from the river. They were hiding deep whenever possible and I really only saw 4 or 5 fish all day and only two were positive. The cover has finally disappeared, and the leaves are gone along with the grass. At one point the wind decided to get serious and for the first time this season I was mildly under-dressed all day.
I was far from optimistic and quite lazy about the whole expedition. I didn't make it to the river until 10:30 and when my wife asked me nicely to leave early at 2:30 to pick up my son at school I was game.
Somehow, someway I still managed two fish. Looking back on the day I am shocked but very pleased. The first fish I caught blind casting very early. I was very slowly working (small 2" slow strips with long pauses) a modification to the foam trouser worm that I have been working on. It turns out that if I replace the final foam plug with a plastic bead it improves the action a little bit and the take on this carp was like getting hit by a 10lb smallmouth bass. I don't always blind cast but when I do I want a take like that!
For quite a while after that the day lived up to my expectations with few fish sighted and no viable shots. Then late in the day I spotted two lonely bubbles pop to the surface a fair distance up the bank where no bubbles should be. After a careful stalk I was in position to take a peak and there it was. A dust cloud filled the space between two large boulders with a large tail waving lazily just outside of the blind canyon those boulders created. I only had a 2x2 foot window through the brush to work with for view and access. I had to draw my fly (A McLuvin) nearly all the way to the end of the rod, stick it through the window and then wiggle enough tippet out to get it to the fish. The first two "dunks" drew no reaction of any kind and it was clear that the carp could not see the fly in it's own dust cloud. On the third "dunk" I suspended the fly just forward and above the leading edge of the dust cloud and jigged it lightly. The carp did that cool little 2" back-track that they occasionally do, lifted it's head and charged.
Winter has taken it's toll. When I saw that tail waving and first saw the shoulders on this fish I was sure it was over 15 pounds. We are a long way down the path from the fall beer-belly season though and it ended up weighing just under 13.