Sunday, July 24, 2011

My New Backyard

  I woke up before the sun this morning with nothing more planned than to suck back a pot of coffee and catch up on what my blogger friends had been up to lately. After several hours of interesting reading, I found that all too familiar itch that needed a good scratching... the need to find some fishy water in my new backyard.

  A quick search on Google Earth showed me several promising areas to explore. Just a few blocks to the west is a small creek with a channeled river bed, but just a mile downstream it opens up into a wild urban ravine whose pools and runs could possibly hold some bass or panfish, and for future consideration...salmon and steelhead! Under two miles away to the northeast I found a series of small flood control ponds that looked promising from 300 miles in space but require a more up close and personal scrutiny, and of course there's the Rouge River 5 miles east with it's healthy population of bass, pike, brook trout in the north end of the city and carp liberally scattered throughout.

  With a pot of coffee under my belt, my bike loaded up with gear and a planned route for local exploration, I set off just before 9am in 90degee temperatures towards the ponds in the northeast. After a few wrong turns and having to backtrack, (I didn't print out a map of the area) I'd arrived at my destination in less than 15 minutes without realizing it! One thing a satellite image doesn't show you is tall grass obscuring the lower lying areas, and this was the case at hand. Let me tell you... breaking trail with a mountain bike loaded down with fishing gear through several hundred yards of chest high scrub isn't getting any easier on me but the potential payoff was worth it. As I broke through the brush at the waters edge it became clear that these bodies of water are rarely fished because of their visibility and difficult access. The only place to set up was on a narrow rocky saddle separating two adjacent ponds, and as I approached I could see a large school of good sized carp frolicking in the shallows.
south pond
north pond
  I immediately assembled my fly rod, tied on a coachman and on the second cast retrieved a palm sized bluegill. As I released the sunfish a nearby voice asked me if there were any fish in that "ditch". Unknown to me a resident had been curiously observing my actions from a balcony overlooking the water without ever putting together the pieces of the puzzle (like all the 10lb carp splashing about!). It's always been amazing to me how many people are unaware of the opportunities in their own back yards. I patiently explained to him what I'd already figured out about his backyard, what I believed could be there, and how to go about catching them. Minutes after our conversation my line quickly straightened out, pulled like a freight train for 3 seconds, and then came limply flying back towards my head so that I had to duck in order to avoid impalement.


  The brief commotion had scattered the remainder of the school so sight casting was no longer an option. In no time at all I'd exhausted all my known patterns for carp with not so much as a bump to show for it, so... rather than tying on ridiculous choices and getting frustrated, I decided drastic measures were in store if I was to even the score. BAIT. There...I said it. Just don't tell Tackle Shop, he'd never let me live it down.

  Jolly Green Giant to the rescue! Four nibblets of corn on a #8 trout hook a foot below a quarter oz sliding egg weight, cast into an area heavily chummed with handfuls of corn, sit back and wait. Honestly...this is not my preferred method of fishing, I'd rather be fluff chucking or heaving heavy metal on the run. Perhaps 20 years down the road when I'm back in diapers a can of worms or corn will be a constant companion, but for now I resist the obvious benefits of bait in all but the most difficult of situations. hour later, several repositionings, and a serious case of distraction was all that was needed for my rod to suddenly make a break for the waters edge. I'd like to say my lightning quick reflexes saved the day but the truth is that the reel hung up on a rock allowing me to keep my equipment AND even the score!
20" "Golden Boy"

  Knowing what the previous fight had done to the bite, I decided to call it a day rather than wait another hour for some action. All things considered I'm fairly pleased with the day, I'd gotten into some decent fish and found a nearby fix for my addiction. On my return ride home I came across this beautiful little gem, but it will have to wait until my inevitable return.


  1. Nice carp, I'm moving house soon to somewhere right next to a canal and a river.

  2. Thats a very nice spot you have there John, And if your pulling out 20" gold bars like the one in the picture, Then thats just what the doctor ordered,
    Well in mate,

  3. exploring the new area, right on. cant wait to see what else you got in the back year. glad to have you back posting john!

  4. Great post. Nice fish! And it's fun getting to know your home waters, eh?