Sunday, July 23, 2017

Reverted to Toddlerism

Sometimes when a big fish eats your fly things go in slow motion. This time things were extra slow and the fish was not just big; It was something that seemed out of place in a muddy pit of a park pond, almost tarpon like in stature and even appearance and behavior. Just a massive, massive fish. Almost certainly bigger than any fish I had ever caught in fresh or salt water on any kind of tackle. To make the anticipation that more intense it was a species I had never caught and have been yearning to for years. I had made an uncharacteristically perfect cast, and the fish had not changed its course. It slowly turned upwards, clearly intent on eyeing my foam bread fly. It was such a low rise. I had time to remark about the fish's movements



Ben and I have been on a mission. A mission to catch carp in two unique situations, on the surface and at night. After the first day and getting our butts packaged, wrapped, and delivered to us with a hateful letter taped on the top, I went out for a near full night session that was really focused on observing the behavior of the fish. I think I left with more questions than answers. I saw carp doing things I had just never seen before in all these years. I saw them exhibit what could only have been complex social behaviors, seemingly even grooming or communicating by touching each other. I saw fish do something that was bizarrely like kissing. I watched common carp over 10lbs seemingly filter feed on zooplankton at mid water-column. I saw both flippant ignorance of my presence and seemingly intuitive spooking when I made a regular schedule of coming and going. I could see fish at a distance abruptly turn and leave from where they could not possibly have seen, heard, or felt my presence. The biggest question this all left me with... why are people so enamored with brown trout and willing to pass up such a dynamic and intriguing fish that came here from the same part of the world? I mean these animals are just incredible. I watched them from 9:00 until 2:15 and it was one of the coolest nights on the water I've ever had.

I didn't make a whole lot of casts that night, but when I did I made sure they were to fish that were feeding on the bottom and I made sure the cast was pretty much perfect. I got five takes in total, hooked two, and landed one.

Really, really cool night. I got a few hours of sleep and Ben and I were off to look for surface feeders again. Once again, they whooped us. But we were starting to get some good ideas. We came back the next day for vengeance, and fish were caught on flies made from a foam mattress pad... yup. We had learned quite a bit here. We figured out just how much we needed to conceal ourselves, how important cloud cover is, and that no matter what we do grass carp will never be easy here. 

This pond is loaded with beautiful little commons, and that was the fish most likely to munch down our bread flies. Ben finally got the monkey off his back and I got a pair of beauties as well. 

Somewhere in the middle was the episode the reverted me to toddlerism. That huge grass carp came gliding along, I made a cast, and as though it had been waiting for this moment all day the fish came up to eat my fly with authority....

And I ripped it right out of it's mouth. I swore loudly and turned from my seated position to lay on my stomach and beat the ground with my fists. Ben just sat is his spot and laughed. Eventually I went back to being a 20 year old instead of a 3 year old and I was laughing too. The absurdity of all that had just gone down, when I thought about it, was both hilarious and wildly frustrating. I had just blown that one shot at what could have ended up being the biggest fish of my life, a fish that had shown no signs of even considering taking one of our flies prior to that on this particular day.

The outing got really weird after we met up with Kirk and tried to find a night bite. That night bite never materialized in the street lights, where fish had been so frequent in previous nights. So we went ahead with Plan-B, using a drill battery powered spotlight to sight fish in the dark. We saw a bunch of odd stuff using that light, including odd carp behavior and some sizable eels, but oddest of all, it seems spot lighted smallmouth will not shy away from a black bugger right on their nose!


  1. What was the massive critter that you first hooked up with?
    Tie, fish, write and photo on...

    1. Well I thought I made it clear that it was the big grass carp and that I missed it entirely... maybe I didn't do a good job of that.