There was a brief moment of indecision. Nothing much,
really. Just a short pause as I headed out the door
towards my truck.
"Do I really want to go out in that muggy heat, just to
fish for an hour or less?"
Yeah, I know. Stupid question.
I pulled my pickup onto the grass beside the pond. The
water was an ugly, milky brown, courtesy of the series
of thunderstorms and downpours that moved through the
area in the past few days. The wind riffled the surface.
Definitely 6wt weather. I strung the rod together, and
tied on a #10 brown woolly bugger. Something to move a
little water, maybe find a bass or two interested in eating,
as the usual pods of carp cruising the surface were nowhere
to be seen.
I strain my eyes into the vegetation and see the dark scaled
back of a good-sized carp. It lifts its head, kissing up
against the underside of the packed vegetation, obviously
eating something from the bottom. I drop the bugger on
top of the weeds, lifting and dropping it, trying to break
through. Lifted too high into the air, the fly falls onto
the surface with a splat, and the fish bolts.
I work down towards the inflow to the pond, searching the
shallows and weeds for signs of fish. I see the telltale
bubble clouds of sub-surface carp, and toss the fly out
towards the effervescing surface. I try to lead the path
of the bubbles, but the fish are moving in erratic lines,
maybe feeding, maybe not. With the midday sun high in the
sky above me, the few bits of shade to be found are beneath
the weed pads. I explore the holes and pockets, hoping for
the boiling rush of water that comes when a bass ambushes
the unfortunate thing that just fell into view. My trip
down the shoreline remains decidedly uneventful, however.
As I round the corner to head down the far shore, I hear
that soft sucking sound again. I scan across the mass of
weeds gathered here by the wind. There! And there! Small
patches of weed rise and fall, as if carried on an invisible
swell. Various carp push up against the bottom of the mats,
feeding on something mixed in the salad, or perhaps on the
weeds themselves. Last time I came across a carp doing this,
I managed to take it on a small, iridescent fry pattern.
The line slides determinedly out of my hands at first. I
tighten down, and as the pressure reaches the fish, the line
begins to fly. In a blink, the fish is on the reel, and
screaming down the shoreline. A mat of weeds, at least
as heavy as the fish, drags slowly across the surface of
the water, as the flyline shoots through it. 20 yards away,
the carp is rapidly running out of shoreline and heads for
deeper water. I see weed mats in the distance begin to course
out towards the center of the pond. I dip the rod tip to the
water, hoping to pull the line loose from some of the accumulated
vegetation. As I palm the reel, pressuring the fish to turn,
the line goes slack. I retrieve a weed coated fly, checking
it carefully. The hook didn't bend out, it just came loose.
The fish has thrown this end of the pond into disarray, so
I walk down the shore, resting the water. I work down the
bank, trying to peer over chest high shrubbery that is
flourishing in the recent combination of warm days and
rainy afternoons. I see one carp working a weed pad, but
can't get the fly out quickly enough. The fish cruises off,
headed away from me up the shore.
I work down to the drain outlet and back up to the corner,
and don't see anything except for several dead sunfish,
baking on top of the weed pads.
Back in the corner, and no activity. I couldn't have
spooked them that badly. I work around the corner and
see a couple of mirror carp swimming slowly, working the
surface film. I lay a cast out, too far ahead and to
the side. A hurried pick up and recast puts fly and
leader over the back of the smaller carp, and I lift
it quickly, trying not to spook the fish. The line
passes over the fish's back, and I wait for the swirl
of water as it bolts. Instead, it turns, charging my
fly, in a rage at this small thing that has had the
audacity to attack it. The fish sucks in the dead
drifting fly and turns. I come back hard, and after
only a brief moment's pressure, fly and fish swirl
apart, moving in opposite directions.
I work back to my spot on the other side of the corner,
and do my best impression of a heron. Patience is the
weapon of choice, and although I should have already
gotten on the road and back to work, I wait. Then I
see it. A mass of black edged diamonds that is the back
of a mirror carp. He sips gently on the underside of the
weed mat, in patches too thick to place the fly with any
chance of a take. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a
5 pounder hovering in a 3-foot hole of open water between
two weed patches. I flip the fly out, and it lands with
a soft splash, about 7-8" away from the fish. I go to
pick up the line and recast. The carp turns to where
the fly entered the water, and with a swing of a scaled
tail, swims over and pulls it out of the water with a sip.
I come up fast on the rod, and the fish rolls once, powering
towards the deeper water, right towards some submerged
branches. I pull up short on the rod, and the carp swerves
away, driving though another patch of weeds. I drop the tip
parallel to the water, trying to free the mass of weeds from
the line. The reel is chattering away as the fish runs, and
then I feel it. That same, sickening slack that I felt earlier.
Again, I retrieve nothing but a weed coated fly. The point
is sharp, the bend good.
Carp 3, Jason 0. Rematch scheduled for after work.
~ Jason Tinling