Saturday, July 30, 2011

One In The Net and One That Got Away

A fisherman is known for tall tales of gigantic whales of fish in the pond and skewing the numbers a bit on the day's catch. I have to admit, I have been accused of such tales but things get blurry so it is hard to say. On to the fish tale. I have seen a grass carp the size of my leg cruising the shallows at my local pond. The first time I saw the thing I fell down because it was so unexpected. I thought it was a log until it moved. Of course I had the right fly on and launched a 100ft perfect cast right into it's mouth and hooked it. I held on for an epic 6 hour battle on 2lb test....wait a minute, that is the fisherman's tale. Here is the truth, I bounced a cast off of his head and then sent one into the shrubs on the shore. I tried to sneak-army-crawl/not look stupid into the shrub, but the fish saw me and swam off. This dismal failure to perform happend about a week ago.

Today, I had 2 hours to sneak in and I landed one 3.4lb mirror carp and I snapped off (instantly) on an unknown. The water boiled up into huge waves as that fish took off and my line wouldn't hold. I want to say it was the huge grass carp. Who's to know? I didn't even see a fin so it could have been anything. Heck, it was hot out, so I might have even been daydreaming! It was great to get out because I hadn't fished in about a week. I have been in Dallas, TX to a conference called Echo for media creatives in the church. I am glad to be home and hitting the local spots. Any luck at your local waters?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Finding The Rhythm

Every body of water has a rhythm. A schedule of sorts. This schedule is not broadcasted to the public like the evening news. The rhythm is much more subtle than that, almost felt. The observant fisherman picks up the beat and pulse of the watershed and it's creatures. Patience and consistent pursuit is the only way to figure it out. How has the rhythm changed with water levels? What effect does temperature and season have? Time of day.

I remember fishing a city pond where the bass were actively feeding. The bass crashed the banks, hard, going after tiny baitfish. A fisherman walks right up to a spot a bass just swirled seconds ago and launched a 7" top water about 80ft away. He had no clue what had just happened literally at his feet. He also didn't know that the bass would be a bit more shy with him hugging the bank. I watched this occur and I recalled a not so distant time when I did that. I just walked up to a spot and started chucking. Oblivious to my surroundings and the rhythm. I am not even that great of a fisherman, but I have learned to observe. This simple shift has allowed me to enjoy the outdoors in a much deeper way. Plus, I catch fish and it has to be a really bad day for me to be skunked.

I have had the opportunity to study a couple small ponds in my city. Obviously the smaller water is going to be learned much quicker. I feel like I can tell you, right now, where the fish will be at this point in the season. Sometimes it feels like I was invited to a party and they are just waiting there for me to show up. I think about how the fish have moved off a certain side of the lake to the other as my work day goes on. I know without a doubt I am going to encounter a few fish at a bend in that pond around dusk. You learn the rhythm and then fall in step. I can't imagine how many times I didn't catch fish because I just didn't pay attention. Maybe I scared them off by crashing onto the shoreline throwing the wrong thing into the water or maybe I spent hours of my life going for fish that were not even there because they were spending their time at a different part of the water.

The rhythm will pull you into step. If you will listen.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Weird Looks and Packing Light

I have never been the classic / traditional fly fisherman. I don't really wade, I don't fish in streams and I don't fish for trout. I live in an urban setting so you have to take what you can get. If I wear a fly fishing vest to the city pond people will fall over laughing and staring. The cops would arrest me for getting into most ponds and the bottoms are silty fisherman quicksand anyways. Therefore, I don't carry the traditional fly fishing gear or clothing. I pack light and efficient. Only the essentials for me. Here is what always goes with me:

My Pack - I scored this for $10 and it fits everything I need. I prefer the trays over a standard fly box. Not sure why but I do. My fly reel goes in one pocket and random supplies(pliers, line nipper, nail knot tool, etc.) in the other. I also have my leader / tippet material and scale in the pack. The pack has 3 trays for my flies and I bring an assortment for warmwater fish. Our friends just got me a cell phone dry box that is clipped on my pack. Love it.

Fly Rod - I carry a Martin 5/6 wt, slow action, rod that I picked up at Dick's Sporting Goods as a starter package. It has floating line on it and I have been using this rod for 2 seasons now and I have caught all my fish on it.

Sunglasses - I wear prescription glasses already so this sucks but I have fit overs and clip ons and what not. I look like a grandpa. Polarized lenses.

Net - This is new for me because I usually don't catch larger fish. The carp fly fishing is changing that for me. I wear my pack over my shoulder and this gets tucked behind me. The handle slides in to make it half the length and it slides out when I need it.

Water Bottle - It gets super hot in the summer and this is a must.

Hat, Long Sleeves and Pants - I get a sunburn thinking about the sun and I hate sunscreen. Therefore, I either burn or wear full sun protection. I always show up to work with bright red hands. People laugh at me a bit.

When it is all said and done, I have one pack I sling over my shoulder, a fly rod ready to go and a net on my back and a water bottle clipped to my belt loop.

What do you pack? What are your essentials when you go fishing?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Carp In The Rain

I just had to fish today. It was one of those got to go moments - a long couple days at work, no time to rest and lack of sleep and high stress. I had one hour to spend gaining some balance and calm back into life. One problem, it was raining a bit. That would stop most fisherman, but not me. My friend told me I go fishing like most people go to the grocery store. Other folks have to make a weekend or day out of fishing. I feel you should go when you can and as often as you can.

My gear always stays in the car, so I headed to my new carp lake right after work. People gave me funny looks through windshield wipers as they drove by in the safety of their cars. I didn't care because I was hunting carp. A few commons were rooting around in real close to the shore and I dropped a carp carrot right in the pack. The big one shot after it and I set the hook and held on! It took me a long time to land this thing and it only weighed in at 3.77lbs. This carp was my first common and the largest carp I have caught on the fly. My arm was worn down after the fight, but I pressed on and landed another mirror carp. Then it was time to head home for dinner. What a great day.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Landing A Carp and Sinking Myself

Have you ever heard the term, "sure footed?" Try that one on for size when you are sinking into the silty bottoms of a lake that has never felt the soles of a fisherman. As an urban angler, you are only in the water if something went terribly wrong. No one wades or swims in these murky and somewhat smelly waters. Well, I guess that social que doesn't apply to me. I busted out my hip waders and slugged to the out of place and hard to reach spots at the local pond. There is a no swimming sign posted, but I didn't see a no walking in the water sign. I quickly learned that balance is key in the foot sucking mud. I also learned one final lesson, make sure you can move your feet when you take a step! I got both of my feet stuck deep in the sludge and I fought to free them. As I pulled, I went a bit too far backwards and I fell like a tree in the forest. I plunged backwards and remembered my baptism in the murky urban pond scum water. Everything on me got submerged. I was immediately thankful for two things. One, my friends got me a cell phone dry box (they really know me) and two, no one else was around to see me being an idiot. I shot up out of the depths and raced to the shoreline. I threw my gear on the ground and hauled myself onto dry land. This gave me time to compose myself and remember that I was actually out to catch some carp on the fly rod and not to take a quick dip.

I hunted the banks and shallows for feeding carp. I crept,
as quietly as one can with soggy socks, up to a few carp and a couple actually took the fly! Despite my crazy water aerobics, I landed 2 mirror carp for the day on a fly called the Carp Carrot.

The Carp Carrot was developed by a guy named Jim Pankiewicz, otherwise known as Mr. P. Check out his blog and how to tie the Carp Carrot at:

Mr. P has a great blog with a ton of good information on flyfishing for carp. I really appreciate all the people out there sharing their knowledge on fly fishing. I wouldn't be half the fisherman I am today without the incredible people who care to tell their stories and share what works for them. Thanks to everyone who shares and I hope to be a resource someday as soon as I stop falling into the lake!

P.S. Does anyone have any tips on wading in stillwater with silty/muddy bottoms?

Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 1, 2011

When You Know You Love It

I have been fortunate enough to fish just about everyday for the last 2 weeks. I might have missed a couple in there, but I did fish 2 times in one day every once in a while too! Being out has taken it's toll on me. I have been staying up late into the night tying flies and spending time with my wife and getting up with the sun to sneak in a couple hours of fishing before work. Chores at home have slacked off and I am a tad zoned out at work from the sleep deprivation and thoughts of the water and another fish to catch. Does that stop me. Nope. I keep at it, hoping to bring in another fish.

Currently, I am hunting carp with the fly rod and the carp are winning. I still have only managed to land one, but I have had a few take my flies and snap off. I have had more botched casts then I care to remember and I have had some perfect casts to stubborn and uninterested fish. The challenge of fly fishing for carp is amazingly addicting. My casting has undergone a major overhaul just to keep up. I feel like you have to be in the right spot with the right fly and make the best cast or it just isn't going to happen. I am pushed to find the right spot by learning about carp and I am forced to hone my casting skills to present the fly.

I know I love this sport because in the middle of being run down exhausted, I still set my alarm to get up with with the sun. I still fall out of bed to try it all again even though I didn't catch a single thing the day before. I do all this because I connect with fishing at some deep level that I am not sure how to explain. I don't know where it came from and I am not sure why, but I have to fish. I am not even that good at fishing, but I still go. I will keep going until I can't manage to haul myself to a water's edge. That's how I know I love to fish.