Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Carped between the legs

This past Sunday I had a chance to go out to some secret carp flats with my buddy Justin.  The water level had dropped about two feet since my last trip out there, and this might be our last trip to these flats for the year unless there is a good rain.  The most productive section of the flats that we found was right next to a small channel that connects the flats to a deeper slough.  Within the first 30 minutes, Justin had his first fish hooked, and after a good long fight on his 5 wt. he netted a 4 lb common.

We were both wet wading and shortly after his catch, Justin's sandal came apart, so he went back to the car to get his hip waders.  Meanwhile, I stood heron-like still in the knee deep water, my eyes fixed toward the slough as three fat tails swaggered through the channel towards me.  As they entered the flats they separated and cruised the opening of the channel.  I made a leading cast to one fish with no acknowledgement.  Then another fish started cruising directly at me.  There was no way I would have time to set up for another cast to this fish, and my fly was about 6 feet behind the fish at that time, so I slowly swept the rod tip out to my side as if setting up for a roll cast.  As the fly drifted past the fish I let it settle and the fish casually turned its head down and toward the fly telegraphing the take.  I then made the roll cast to set the hook and the water churned about 4 feet in front of me as the fish bolted, fly in mouth.

The fish made several good runs before tiring within an arm's reach. Not having a net on me, I reached out precariously with my bogas to catch the lip and that's when it got a second wind and took off through my legs, brutally jerking my rod tip down into the mud as I stood peering between my legs as the fish made wake behind me.  In that split second I thought the fish has broken off, or worse, broken my rod.  After an awkward leg over the line maneuver I discovered that the fish was still connected and so was my rod.  The next time it was close enough to lip, I kept my legs close together and pulled this beautiful golden bone out of the water (my first common carp, 2.5 lb, caught on a #6 olive backstabber).

After Justin got back from getting his waders, I told him about my misadventure to much amusement.  The rest of the day was spent sight casting to the carp as they cruised all around us.  I had a nice follow from one other cruiser, but didn't catch any more fish that day.  As the sun set, we trudged back to the car, covered in slime and mud, fly rods in hand and memories of time on the water etched in our minds.

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