Noah and I had once theorized it, but I never thought I'd see it in reality. And then, on Tuesday morning, it happened.
I had been on the trout stream from 7:30 until false dawn (4:15ish) and it was a pretty good bite, but I wasn't tired enough to want to miss out on a potential morning carp bite. So, I went searching. And I found wind. That was no good. And then I found a sheltered place with one carp that didn't hang around long enough for me to present to. Also no good. After searching a bunch more water, I found both good sight fishing conditions and a feeding carp. It wasn't an especially large carp, but I wasn't going to be picky as this was my first chance to present a fly to a tailing fish this year. I missed my first chance. The fish moved out of range. But I stuck around and waited for it to show back up. I knew that carp in this spot tended to make a circuit of the cove and it would eventually come back around. It did, and I presented a dark grey Woolly Bugger to it a few times before it took. The initial fight was very lethargic. The fish lulled me into a false sense of security... I was pretty confident I was going to land it without issue. And then it threw me the curve ball of all curve balls... it nosed down, start pumping it's tail violently, a buried itself entirely in the bottom. There was an eruption of bubbles and mud and then nothing but my line going down into the bottom.
It happened so damn fast I thought the fish must have just done what I've had many carp do before and quickly rubbed it's head and flank against the bottom (a behavior designed to shake parasites but sometimes done while hooked as well), dislodge the fly or tangled the leader and broke off, and left enough of a smoke scene of mud and bubbles that I didn't see it leave the scene of the crime. I hopped up on the guardrail behind me to see if I could see it somewhere... no sign. It must still be on, I thought. I started to pull, putting as much strain on my 5wt and 4x tippet that I was comfortable. Sure enough, very suddenly, bubbles and mud erupted from the bottom again and the carp emerged from its subterranean hiding spot, somehow having turned completely around and remained hooked. This was one of those wild moments that I live for as an angler, and I can honestly say, no photos could do the job, not even a video could. Even if you were there seeing it with me, your experience would be inherently different from mine. From my perspective, that carp couldn't possibly have done anything cooler. Added to that, it was a gorgeous bi-color.
That made my morning. I caught the elusive burrowing carp. I went home, had a second breakfast, and then took a quick nap.
Just after dark, there was a good heavy downpour. I knew something out there would be likely to bite. It turned out to be carp, and I got to see some more fun carp behavior. Where a small drainage ditch emptied into the pond and an overhanging streetlight illuminated the bottom, I could see the shadows of ravenously feeding carp. I've found carp to be incredibly easy to deceive in these circumstances. Sure enough, it only took five minutes. White woolly bugger. Slurp.
Fish that burrow into the ground when hooked. Sight casting at 11:30pm under the light of streetlights. I am a really lucky guy, getting to see and do these kinds of things.
I can't think of anything in my life that engages me and challenges me as much as fly fishing. And were I not so willing to fish for any and all species in any and all water bodies possible, it wouldn't be even one tenth of one percent as challenging and rewarding as it is.