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Part One hundred sixty-eight

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And a Side of Duckweed, Please

By Jason Tinling, Lancaster, PA

Sticky. Muggy. Step outside and melt weather. It isn't Missouri (pronounced Misery), but it isn't comfy, either. Still, the fishing bug is stronger than the self-preservation bug, and with a workload that will probably keep me buried for most of the upcoming week, I had to get out and fish.

I started out in the little pool by the upper spillway and fish ladder. I fished it yesterday evening to many willing sunfish and rock bass. The pumpkinseeds are lit up, both in color and aggression, shooting through the clear water to take a swing at the fly as it twitches past. I've put physics to work for me, casting from the top of the retaining wall beside the river rather than drop down to the rock shore. I can lay the line out to the far edge of the pool from up here, probably about 50 - 60 feet away. I start out with a little chartreuse bead-head fly that I had finished with yesterday afternoon. The bead gives enough weight to keep the fly down, and the short chartreuse marabou tail and the chartreuse rubber legs give a nice "life" to the fly. I land a few assorted sunnies and move down the shore.

I head down to the feeder at Deer Run, only to find a kid tossing worms with a can outfit. He's fishing one side of the pool there, so we can share without any difficulty. I toss the fly around and land a couple of small sunnies, when I notice a patch of mud blooming in the weeds before me. Closer inspection shows a scaled tail swinging slowly on the backside of the mud patch. Carp!

A look down the shoreline shows a patch of water on the outside of the weed bed that's far dirtier than any of the surrounding water. Sure enough, dark shapes can be discerned moving in the muddied water in several locations. These fish are working the weeds very methodically. They're sneaking, sidling through the weeds until they find whatever clue it is they're looking for. Then they bury their heads in and begin mudding about. Crawdads? I toss the bead head out and work it, with no reward. I eventually sacrifice it to the unknown underwater snag gods and tie on a crawdad pattern, reasoning that 'dads might be the preferred food for the day. Again, no success. I'm tempted to tie on the Neon Bitch Creek Nymph that I caught my first carp on. But that ostentatious fly had to be a fluke, right?

Nope. I miss a couple of cursory strikes, and the adrenaline level skyrockets. Finally, a good suctioning take, and I lean back on the rod. Pop! ^&$*#$^*$#(^%$(&^%! I do the masochistic fisherman thing and immediately inspect the line for the tell tale curl that says, "Crappy knot tying." Well, the break is clean, anyway. What now?

Well, the BC nymph was a bonus fly from a swap I ran last year, so I decide to give the tier another chance. I pull out a Collared Nymph and work it a bit to get it saturated and sinking. The fish like the fly, and I miss a couple of more takes. These carp are strange, I'm drawing strikes by putting the fly right on their nose, or even a bit up the head, occasionally even bumping them with the fly. One big carp comes up to the slowly sinking nymph and gives it a fairy kiss touch and then rolls away. It's getting time to wrap up and head back to work, but I've got to make a couple more casts.

A smaller fish is mudding the weeds near me, so I flip a short cast out and let it sink slowly. The fly disappears behind the weed edge. I play it by instinct, although being new at this, I'm not sure what instinct it is I'm playing. Sure enough, the fish noses over to where the fly should be, and I see his gills flare slightly. Set!

The last time I did this, the setting of the hook was followed immediately by an explosion of water and a freight train run down stream. This fish (considerably smaller than the last I caught) seems to lift his head with the set, and looks at me questioningly. "And what the heck do you want?" seems to be the expression. Then the reality of the hook sets in and he's off. Where my last fish was a sprinter, this one seems to be distance runner. He rolls out of the weeds strongly, and pulls off for some deeper water. He's not swimming hard enough that I can't hold him and maneuver him a bit, so it's a quick dance down the shoreline to more stable ground, letting him peel off enough line to get him outside the weed bed's edge.

I buckle down on him and turn him towards my direction. He comes paralleling the front of the pool, 3 - 4 other carp following him like a pack of dogs chasing down the "lucky" pack mate who's found a scrap bone. They track along with him, whether in moral support, or just hoping for a free handout, I don't know. This fish is a bulldog, never more than 20 - 30 feet away, but trading blows back and forth.

I gain, he takes. He gains, I take back. We dance this tango for a while until the fish begins to tire. I can feel each time he turns away and gets over the 4# leader, and I anticipate a loose line with each pop that accompanies the line untangling from the fish. He's at my feet by the rock and I grab the fly line, pulling him close, and grabbing the hemostats. Lock them on, twist the fly. Nothing. Twist. Nothing. I couldn't have forgotten to debarb the fly, right?

Wrong. I've got 5 - 6 pounds of recovering carp dangling from my hemostats as I try to maintain my balance while reaching into my back pocket for the needle nose pliers there. I manage to get them free with out panicking the fish, and lock on to the hook shank, dropping the hemostats to the rock. A quick turn and a shake and the fish drops back into the water. I crimp the barb for future reference.

Hmmm, 15 minutes over my lunch already. Definitely no time for another cast.

Collared Nymph
Fly and photo courtesy of George Church

Collared Nymph

    Hook:   #6 streamer Mustad #9575.

    Thread:   Danville-# 6/0 black.

    Body:   Orange chenille.

    Hackle:   Badger.

    Throat:  Pearl Flash-a-bou.

    Collar:   Brown furry foam.


    1. Wrap a thread base from just behind the hook eye to the hook point.

    2. Tie in the orange chenille and put into material clip or let hang.

    3. Hackle: Either fold hackle or strip one side. I like the stripped version. Tie in hackle by tip. Bring thread forward. Palmer hackle to waiting thread-tie in with three or four wraps.

    4. Gather hackle on bottom side of the hook. Just push the hackles down. Pull or push the feather. It doesn't have to be real neat but the hackles should be on the underside of the hook.

    5. Bring orange chenille forward. I normally give the chenille a couple of twists and tie in right on top of the hook shank. Now you have the hackle and the chenille tied in at the same point.

    6. Take some Flash-a-bou and tie this in front of the hackle on the underside of the hook. The length of the flash material should be to the hook point. Put a whip finish here and a drop of head cement or super glue to bind it all together.

    7. I use a 7/16 round collar. Brass cutting gauges work well for this. I just lay the furry foam on a cutting board and knock out however many collars I need.

    8. After the first drop of head cement has dried, I lay down a few more wraps of thread; these give the collar something to "grip." Put a little drop of cement on the wraps and tie on the collar. I generally put four or five wraps then I put just a touch of head cement on the thread and add four whip finishes.

    9. Clip thread. ~ Jason

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