Friday, April 15, 2016

Thursday was Flyday

 I left the house yesterday morning determined to finally put a bend in my new fly rod which until now retained it's virginity. My destination was a series of drainage ponds in the neighborhood that I knew contained a variety of species, but my main target on this day would be carp. After a quick pot of coffee, downed at the tying bench, I loaded the bike with everything I'd need and pedaled off to the ponds.

  I'd fished the first location a few few times over the past 3 weeks where I'd found the fish milling about, just a few feet away from a bulrush lined shore, 6 inches under the surface. On arrival I found the area buffeted by gusting winds, stirring up the sediments and reducing water visibility to 8". Sight fishing was not going to be possible. I started casting the area with a wet hackle fly, slowly stripping line and keeping the fly in top foot of water. The cross wind was playing havoc with my casting and line control, sending my fly into a hungry tree on the back cast several times. Fishing sub surface wasn't getting any attention so I tied on a heavy weighted crayfish/damsel imitation and started dredging the bottom. After flogging the water for another 20 minutes with several more fly changes and no results I decided it was time for drastic measures... I assembled my ultra-light and put on a worm!

  It took no time at all for my float to submerge and a palm sized bluegill to came to hand. One after another they came in with the occasional chub mixed in and a 4' large mouth. It was comfortable sitting in a camp chair, reeling in panfish at will, but that wasn't what I'd come here for. I moved to the far end of the pond, where the previous year I'd had frequent success with bait. I wasn't finished with the fly rod yet and chose a rocky point as a casting platform that gave good access to the corner while sheltered from the wind and unobstructed room for the back cast. This wasn't a place for a heavy weighted fly as the water's  surface was dotted with the leftovers of a beaver's winter snacks. The skeletal remains of treetops, branches and shrubs poked out every few feet making casting risky business regardless of the fishing style.

  I tied on a bead head nymph with a bright green body and wound hackle and started picking apart the "pocket water". It was't long before I finally popped the cherry on the new rod. It wasn't what I'd hoped to be the first, but the palm sized gill was welcome just the same. Not long after I got a bite that put the good bend in the rod I'd been expecting all morning, only to be surprised to find it wasn't a carp but a scrappy 16' largemouth. A quick pic, live release (bass are not in season until the end of June) and back at it. After a few short strikes and a couple flies lost to the shrubbery I finally got a hook into the fish hiding in an particularly "woody" corner...a palm sized crappie! It's a good thing that when I tie a fly pattern, I usually tie at least 5 in a sitting, as it appeared I'd need all I'd brought.



  I'd disturbed the area too much by dragging snagged branches across the bottom, and instead of waiting for things to settle down, decided it was time to move on to the next pond a few blocks away. Like the first pond, I'd had multi species days there and the chance of hooking into a carp were good. I worked my usual access points with no luck and eventually ended up at the windswept end, casting into deeper water than usual. On the second cast I landed a small crappie. A few more casts and a couple more fish. This was the first time I'd ever found a school locally but after six fish the bite stopped. I moved farther down the shore, spending time picking apart likely areas but came up empty. By now it was mid afternoon and although I didn't catch my intended species, I was well satisfied with the results and was ready to call it a day.

  On my way back to the street I thought I'd give the crappie spot one last try with a heavier fly. That was the final piece to the puzzle. Every cast brought in a fish as long as the fly was allowed to sink for at least 15 seconds! After about 20 fish the line tightened and pulled drag, the rod bent over and as I saw the flash 5 feet below the surface I thought I'd hooked into a good sized bass. Nope. What a surprise to find a 14" crappie on the end of my line! If I'd been on a large northern lake I would have had nice fish dinner, but because this wonderful resource is literally in my backyard, conservation is key. I'm not going to destroy future enjoyment for the sake of a free meal, as I know many of you would agree. Anyways...I came for carp and got blanked, and walked away totally stoked.

The usual suspects.

8 comments:

  1. All I can say is wow! What a great way to spend the day even if you didn't hit a carp dinner. I'm also happy to report that here in Colorado we also have hungry trees! I find them often myself and I'm not bashful about picking up a couple of their dead relatives and using them to cook over. Nice post John and thanks for reminding me that we all have our obstacles.

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    1. Thanks Howard.
      I believe the species is related to that one in the Charlie Brown comic strip. RATS!!!

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  2. Nice workout for the new rod. I also tie several flies for an outing...lots of them adorn the foliage along the streams.
    Howard was kidding about a carp dinner.....right.

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    1. Thanks Alan.
      I'm never really sure about Howard.
      Half the world eats carp. Is it a cheap source of protein or do they really like it? I tried it once and it was horrible...but then... I was the chef.

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    2. Carp is delicious if you cook it in right way. :-)

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    3. Thanks Transformers
      One of the first fish I caught on a fly was a 2 kilo carp. I brought it home, marinated it for a day and then put it in the smoker for 6 hours. To be respectful I will say it was unpalatable. I gave one to a Jamaican friend who baked it with jerk sauce and she says she will take all I'm willing to bring her. To be fair, I don't like trout or salmon either.

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  3. Nice collection of different flies, and nice fish. Completely agree that you really have to take into consideration where exactly you're fishing from when thinking about retention. Some populations can handle a few fish taken out, but others not so much.

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    1. Thanks Ben
      I tied them specifically for panfish and they seem to work well in the murky water I've tossed them in so far. The ponds I'm fishing are surrounded by a ten year old subdivision that houses a couple people who mainly target and keep carp, but if they knew what else the water contained... well... who knows.

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