Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Carp of Darkness

How many times can you mess up before you start to get really frustrated? I'm pretty patient, but I have a limit. I haven't broken gear over lost fish but I have gotten pretty upset over a few particularly exceptional missed or blown opportunities. If seems petty to get worked up over fish missed or lost, well, you probably aren't as engrossed in this sport as some of us.

Carp have been giving me the slip lately, big time. It's not them either, it's me. It's usually blamable on their neurotic behavior. Not this time. And today I got all pissed off.

Last night presented great conditions. It was the calm after the storm, the remnants of Florence had passed through with a little tiny bit of wind and a fair amount of rain and thunderstorms. Things were primed for a good backwater bite. I got to my spot, saw a bubbler, made a less then optimal cast in its vicinity, and was taken aback when the fish actually ate. It's important to note that I had left home with the rod already rigged. I had no clue what shape my tippet was in from the last time I had used it, but I was happy with the fly that was already on there so I wasted no time and just took it off the hook keeper and made the cast at that fish.


Do not follow my lead! That fish broke me off with minimal pressure and I was left standing on the bank cursing my own stupidity. I went over to the other side of the bridge and found a big tailing fish, a perfect target. My first presentation was much too far ahead of her. I overcompensated for the next one and lined her, spooking her hard. a little further up the creek another fish was working. I tried to be more careful this time, worked out what I thought would be a good angle. I didn't give it enough time and cast over the fish's back, something I know not to do. When the fish tailed up I though it had eaten and set the hook. Two chaotic seconds later I was standing there staring at a big golden scale on my hook point, a clear sign that the fish was foul hooked and hadn't actually eaten. Strike three. I was out. Realistically I should have gotten all three of those fish, they were practically begging to be caught. 

I hoped to redeem my game this morning. Given how beautiful it was out last night I expected near perfect conditions. When I stepped outside just before sunrise I discovered the I uttered an unfortunate question: "what the ____ happened?"
There was a persistent northerly wind. My options were going to be very, very limited. When I got to the first of two places I'd have a realistic shot in, I found a big girl feeding with most of her back out of the water. I was pretty gun shy from the previous night's calamities, and that was my downfall with this prime target. I didn't want to line her like I did the two fish before, so I erred too far outside her dinner plate. I snagged up on a branch after 10 casts that were really sheepish, stand offish, and lame. The fish spooked and I didn't get another shot there or anywhere else.
I used to be really good at this. Not to toot my own horn, but up until last summer I think I could go head to head with some of the best fly carpers out there and at least come up even.What happened? I lost the touch. I stopped exercising the muscle.  I haven't fished for the like I used to, and I'm the worse for it. Am I being hard on myself? I don't think so. I know a catch-able carp when I see it, and I know 2016 Rowan would have just torn it up last night and caught three, maybe four big carp. Fall 2018 Rowan just isn't as good at this anymore and needs some practice. 

So you know to expect some more funny titles soon. I've got a bunch of music and literature carp puns running through my head that need to be seen. 


  1. Have to have challenges to have strengths. You will be a better carper, and fisherman overall for this. Enjoy "fixing" things :)


  2. Older now, I used to get frustrated at times, RM, now if I connect I figure I have accomplished the goal. In late May I connected on a life time brown that I nearly had to net, but somehow got loose right at the end before I netted it. In my younger days I would have been hugely disappointed the trout wasn't landed. I found myself laughing with joy that I had hooked a trout that felt like I had hooked bottom, yet the bottom was moving. I did stand in stunned disbelief though for a minute or so taking what had just happened.

    1. The event you describe wouldn't sway me. My biggest wild brown trout was one I barely touched and certainly couldn't have photographed, a spectacular 26 inch male on a size 18 sulfur. I hardly batted an eyelash when it came unbuttoned, I just continued fishing. I was disappointed, sure, but not much. Had I reefed on that fish on the hookset, or put to much heat on it while it ran, or not bowed for a jump... any obvious mistake that I know I shouldn't have done; different stoty. That is when I get frustrated. With small, common fish, it's still no big deal. These were all big carp, the feed that was going on was an uncommon event in that spot, and not only did I only connect with one fish but every blown shot was clearly a result of silly errors that I thought I could avoid with little effort. One, whatever. Two, something's wrong. Three, I'm showing that I'm not learning from my mistakes and to me that's unacceptable.

  3. Rowan, turn the page, your mojo is still there. We all have those days.
    Tie, fish, write, conserve and photo on...

    1. Mojo doesn't go away. Intrinsic reflex and skill does if it isn't used. The only thing that makes me as good as I am is my drive and the amount that I exercise my skillset. With carp, my game has weakened considerably. Just because this is the first time I've written about it doesn't mean its a one time thing.

  4. I'm looking forward to the literature and music carp puns . . . and to hearing about when you hook some again, because I know you will.