Friday, June 20, 2014

Video: Standamaran On-The-Water - Day 3

Here is a new video of me fly fishing for carp from my DIY stand up paddleboard.  As a bonus you get to see a carp hand it to me at the end of the video.  They carp are way back up in the trees in this lake due to high water and this one made it into the trees before I could stop it.  That makes for tough landing percentages!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Standamaran: Maiden Voyage

In my last post about the Standamaran DIY SUP project (Click here for the full history) I had declared it "good enough". After a good forty plus hours of work spread over 5 calendar months I was really anxious to try it out.  Unfortunately, I awoke on my day off to the sound of 15 MPH winds caressing the trees in my back yard.   

I have never been on a surf-board.  I have never been on a stand-up paddleboard.  I have barely been on a kayak, and I tried standing up in that for about 3 seconds before heading to shore to change my underwear.  There was no way in hell I was going to try standing up on this thing the first time in 15mph winds.  Dammit.  I was just going to have to go carpin until the winds died down.  Dammit.  I hate carpin.  Dammit.  Sarcasm is sooooooo lost on the Internet. Dammit, I just recently watched the newest Star Trek Movie and it seems to have affected my vocabulary. Dammit Jim I'm a carper not a writer.

It was a heck of a good day to be hitting the water though.  Better for carpin than standamaran-ing, that is for sure.  In just a few short hours I was well on my way to a double digit day of catching carp on flies.  

That put me in a bit of a pickle. Double digit days are HARD to come by in Colorado.  Should I continue fishing or break out the SUP?   Fortunately the clouds rolled in and saved me the impossible decision.  Dark impenetrable thunder clouds.  The kind that turn the water into an impenetrable mirror and render fly fishing for carp virtually impossible.

I had to dodge or sit out the occasional thunder-storm but over the next couple of hours I put the standamaran through it's paces on increasingly bigger bodies of water.  

The first time I stood up on it I was a bit shaky.  The first though that came to mind was: "Am I really going to be able to fly fish standing up on this thing, or did I just waste a whole lot of time and money?"  It didn't take long though, and within the first 20 minutes I was worrying more about scanning the shallows for carp while paddling in the standing position than maintaining balance.  Within another half hour I was practicing my cast and was easily as accurate as normal.

I can only handle "practicing" for so long though.  Eventually I need real, so after a while I moved on to a small bay where I knew I had a decent chance of finding a few carp on the kind of medium depth flats I had in mind when I started this project.

As I entered the bay I switched to my push-pole.  So much to learn!!!  It turns out that rotating my little boat with a push pole is HARD.  Ridiculously hard.  It is really easy to go straight slower.  It is really really easy to go straight faster.  You want to change course? Hah!!!  Good luck.  So this was the first lesson of the day.  I am either going to need some new skills or add a skeg or rudder to use to pin the back end so that I can rotate around that while poling.

It took a while, but eventually I did manage to get myself lined up and slowly drifting into the bay at the desired depth (about waste deep) and orientation (looking shallow).  Shortly there-after I learned my second critical lesson - speed!  It felt like I was creeping into the bay but I was actually cruising along at a pretty good clip.  Much much faster than if I were wading.  

When a tailing carp suddenly appeared nearly directly in my path it was shocking how fast I was moving and as a result I blew the first presentation.  I blew it BAD.  I can't complain about the second and third presentation though, sometimes you do everything right and you just don't get the eat.   Which brings us to the third lesson - which is that  I am going to be able to get much much closer to tailing carp than I was expecting.  I made the third presentation at 12 feet and was within 8 feet before the carp finally noticed me and bolted for the depths.

Which brings us to the next lesson, and that is that this thing is going to work and it is going to work well.  The very next carp I saw was one I would have never seen on foot in the poor lighting.  It was in about 8" of water over a light sand flat at about 35 to 40 feet.  This fish was cruising slowly and erratically like a shark over a reef and was in total seek and destroy mode.  If I made the presentation I WAS going to get an eat.  Period.  Well, I nailed it.  Put push-pole in armpit.  Strip out 40 feet of line.  Cast to 37 feet, drag to 35 feet and drop it in front of the carp's trajectory.  One tiny twitch for good measure and then kill the fly completely dead.  Easy money,  and because of my elevated station I got to see the carp surge forward and eat the fly in such excruciatingly fine detail that I have barely slept since.  The sequence is burned into my soul.  

I think I learned allot about my new toy in the next couple of minutes.  I am sure I did, but I couldn't for the life of me tell you what because everything turned to chaos at that point.  Between getting dragged 50 feet, stowing the push-pole, getting out the net, fighting and landing the fish all while not falling in i don't remember much.  What a GAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Standamaran: Hot Coat

As you may know, I have a long-running project to build what I hope will be the ultimate carp on the fly floatation.  The Standamaran SUP.  Click here for the full history.  The last we left the project I had just completed the laminate coat.

After you put down the laminate coat, the next step in surf-board building is to apply something called the hot (or fill) coat.  This is a thin coat of resin (epoxy in this case) that fills in all the pits and voids in the fiberglass and smooths things out a little bit.  I used a squeegee spreader to lay down the epoxy and foam brushes to smooth it.  That worked OK, but between the oddly angled surfaces, out gassing issues with the foam blank and a distinct lack of patience when it came to sanding out imperfections in previous steps things got a little ugly.  I am not going to dwell on the details, but suffice it to say the final product is full of enough waves and imperfections to make a professional surf-board builder curl up in the corner and cry.  There are pinholes everywhere.  There are drips, there are blobs. Believe me, the picture doesn't do it justice.

I don't really care though because it seems to be on target functionally.  It seems structurally sound and at 26lb it came in on target for weight.  Although I could clean up the appearance allot by sanding it down and applying another coat of epoxy (called a gloss coat) I decided to save the time, energy and weight and let it ride.   I didn't even sand the fill coat, because ugly is, after all, a secondary concern to functionality.

Well now - that sounds done right?  Except for some rigging I agree, and I finally got it loaded up on the car yesterday ready to go on it's maiden voyage.  More to follow on that when I have time.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Color Map of State Records

The following is a color map of the weight ranges of the current (as of spring of 2014) state records for carp.
The trends are really interesting with all the 50+ lb state records concentrated in one region of the Country.  I live a tough road trip from the blue region.  Suddenly, the 50lb scale I carry around seems like much more of a delusion of grandeur.....

Seriously though, if you live in the Ohio river basin, the main Mississippi river basin, the Great Lakes drainage or the St Lawrence River basin you clearly have a distinct advantage in carp size over the rest of the country.  I am curious as to why Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa and Mississippi don't really have much of a voice in the fly fishing for carp revolution.  All the other blue states have a strong presence.  Or have I not been paying attention?