A 60 degree day, I was definitely heading out
for lunch at the industrial park pond where I
first met Spike.
I left the gear in the car, taking a wander
around the pond to see if anyone was active. A
young girl and her mom were throwing bread to
the ducks (and the seagulls), and I thought I
might have seen a couple of heavy underwater
swirls in the vicinity.
The koi weren't stacked up in their winter staging
area, so signs looked good. Unfortunately, I covered
half the small pond without sight of a fish. I
popped up to the higher pond, but it was
overflowing with geese, and no fish to be seen.
As I dropped down to the lower pond, I saw a white
koi working in the depths, and life was good. I
hightailed back to the car for my gear.
I started out with an olive wooly bugger, as it
had worked for me in the past. I worked around
the pond, casting to a couple of mud blooms that
might have been fish, might have been residual
disturbance from departing geese. I finally spied
the white koi and flipped a couple of casts to it,
leading it down the line as it cruised the shore.
I was studiously ignored.
The fish settled in to work an area, so things
were looking up. I made a few more casts, but
was getting no love from the import. At the end
of one retrieve, I noticed a good sized mirror
working up the shallows and tried to flip a cast
in front of it. I threw too long and put the line
and fly across the fish's back and it spooked out
of the shallows in a swath of mud and water,
taking the koi with it.
I moved further down shore and saw an orange
koi patrolling out deep. I sent the bugger out
towards it time and again, with no luck. It
finally settled in to work the bottom near
where the bread was being tossed earlier, so
I quickly snipped the wooly bugger free and
tied on a bread fly I had received from a
friend. I soaked it in the water and rubbed
it in some mud along the shore both to help
it sink and to cover any scent.
I worked a couple more casts to the deeper water,
waiting for the fly to sink down to where the
carp was working. Out of the corner of my eye
I spotted her working. Spike! I stripped in
quickly, letting the fly settle towards the
bottom, no luck as she was well past the fly
before it was down deep enough.
Finally, on the third cast, the fly worked down
to eye level just as the fish passed by. She
turned on it and quickly tipped down to inhale
the bait. I lifted the rod and got that heavy,
satisfying bend to the rod. The fish rolled out
and swirled around in the shallows.
For 10 minutes, she was content to play tug-o-war,
a bit of a sparring match. Unfortunately, I was
throwing my hard 1-2, and she was still shadow
boxing. About 10 minutes into it, the line went
slack. My heart sank, but the fish was still out
there swimming around, the line following her.
I looked down, and the spool had popped off the
reel. I slapped it back in place, trying to get
it to catch and it finally clicked in.
The fish had had enough of this and barreled out
to the middle of the pond. I'd wrestle her back
in, and off she'd shoot again. I checked the watch
after the first run. 12:35. My reel was now a bit
of a shambles, and every time I flipped the rod
over to pull to the left, the spool would drop
out unless I held it in place. *^%&^!
We moved into the end game, me muscling the fish
toward the shallows, the fish bustling off five
or ten feet from shore. Repeat. I finally had her
near shore enough that I got the rod back over my
head and got down to the water's edge. I grabbed
the leader, slid down to the fly, and just as I
got a grip, she shook her head and POP! went the
8# tippet. I tossed the rod behind me back on the
grass and waded in. Thankfully work clothes are
jeans and a t-shirt; going back to work with half
a leg on my Dockers soaked might have drawn some
I went for a tail wrap and got more of a tail clutch.
Halfway around. Barely. I tried to slide my right
hand under her head, but she was having none of
that. I slid the fish out to a bit deeper water,
got my hand in on the underside behind the gills
and slid around the pectorals, my thumb up under
the head. A deep heft and a couple of uncertain
steps on the loose rock and I laid her down in
the grass. Holy hell, she's bigger than I realized.
I laid the rod beside her and snapped a quick
photo with the digital. A guy walking by stopped
and stared. "I didn't know there were fish that
big in here!" he told me. I asked if he'd take
a pic of me holding the fish and he agreed.
I hefted her off the grass and to my chest as the
guy took the camera. He stepped back. And then back
again. And one more time.
"Ok, I just push the button, right?"
And the guy pulls the camera up close, focuses in...and
the guy hits the off/on slide and turns the camera off!
A silent *)&)(*&%^%^^)*&)_(*)+(*)&(&^(*^%*)& echoed
through my brain pan. I wasn't keeping the fish out
any longer, so I headed back to the water, waded back
in and slipped her into the depths. A couple of
powerful tail swings and Spike was gone again.
I didn't realize how cold the water was until I
washed my arms and hands off. Funny how adrenaline
does that to you. ~ Jason