Wow, what a lunch...it almost makes up for the fact I
probably won't get out fishing this weekend.
As some of you may know, I set a few personal goals
related to flyfishing at the beginning of this year.
One was to increase my trout time, not too hard, as
I only made 3 or 4 trips for trout all of last year.
One of my other goals was to hook and land a carp on
the fly. I had visions of stalking them quietly in
warm August twilight, wet wading the confluence of the
Conestoga and Little C. I certainly didn't have visions
I got on the water about 12:30 p.m., trying to recover
from the boss being out all week (no big loss) and catching
up after 2 days of seminars at the start of the week. The
sunfish are up and beginning to get their bedding territory
picked out. They are aggressive against other sunnies in
their area, but fairly passÚ about flies...grrr. Walked
down to where Deer Run trickles into the river. Carp have
been splashing and surfacing for a couple of weeks now, and
when I got down to the rocks, there were a couple of dozen
fish staged at the backside of the lip of the pool. I'm not
sure if these fish are pre or post spawn, but they were tucked
in, with some grazers.
I was fishing a neon Bitch Creek nymph (red fiber tail, back
half chartreuse chenille, front half black chenille with white
hackle), about a #8-10. I had been teasing the sunnies and
small bass with it, when my curiosity got the best of me. I
had heard that pre-spawn carp were a real challenge to coax
to a fly, but I had to try. I let the first cast settle low
in the water, bouncing from rock to weeds with small twitches.
One carp moseyed over and poked around, but I don't know if
it was my fly he was interested in. More casts and I tried
to position the fly in front of a cruising fish, using small,
moderately fast strips about mid water. A dark colored carp
unblended from the weeds and took a swing at the nymph as it
twitched by. Hmmm...I dropped the fly about 4 feet in front
of a cruising/feeding fish and as the fly settled to mid water
began the same retrieve. Sure enough out come the lips, slurp,
set! Oh crap, the line's looped under the reel seat! A quick
bow towards the fish and pull the loop off as the fish screams
for the deep water of the river.
(Insert flyfishing naivetÚ) Never having hooked anything on
a flyrod that precipitated a need to accentuate the stopping
power of the reel, I got caught. I knew to palm the rim.
I'd seen other people palm the rim. Rim, meet palm. In
the midst of a freight train southbound, however, all those
things disappeared from my mind and were replaced with one
phrase...Stop that fish! And I grabbed the flyline...
I've occasionally smelled burning flesh, but usually not
that close up. The line continued to fly off the reel
unimpeded as I dropped to my knees and threw my hand
under the water.
I finally got the logical side of my brain in gear and got
my palm on the reel. I watched as the last of 80 plus feet
of flyline danced off into the water and the 40-pound backing
began a disappearing act that'd make Siegfried and Roy jealous.
It's about 100 yards from where I hooked up to the train
trestle and spillway below me. The fish was easily half
way there by the time I got him slowed and turning.
This began a good ten minutes of tug of war that was more
a matter of the carp going where he wanted to, than any
fair give and take. He made a run back up river at me
that had me give up winding the reel in favor of a two-handed
strip to get some tension in the line. The end game drew
in sight, but the geology of the pool at the mouth of the
feeder creek was not in my favor. The river pools deeply
directly in front of the feeder, then slopes up to within
6" or so of the surface, and then drops off into the river.
I had the carp in control, until he got near the skinny
water, and then he'd swing that tail and it was off again.
I finally got him over the hump, only to have him shoot
out a deeper section of water on the southern end of the
pool. At last, he was at the base of the rock I was
standing on, and I locked the hemostats onto the fly.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I confirmed the fly
was barbless as it slid out of the fish's mouth. A nice
yellow-metallic carp, about 15-20 pounds, slid off into
the deep water and shot off for the depths.
I think there's something wrong with my reel.
After I managed to rein in the adrenaline, I checked the
tippet and my watch, in that order.
"I really need to get back to work."
"There's a lot more carp out there."
"I don't think the 5x tippet will hold up."
"It held up on that one."
"There are bigger ones out there."
"There are smaller ones out there."
"But...but...but....ah hell, just cast"
So much for the dominance of the logical, responsible
side of my brain. I managed to elicit a couple of strikes,
which I think I subconsciously tried to prevent from hooking
up, for the sake of my job, arms, and gear. But, I am
I think my lunch-times just got a lot more interesting
for the next couple of weeks until the carp drift off
to the cool depths again.
I wonder if my arm will stop shaking... ~ Jason