Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Moments on The Fly- Log Common

 On a winding Ohio creek shaded by lush trees just beginning to get touches of fall color, I found a school of perhaps 20 carp relating to a tree that had fallen in the river. I'd walked quite a lot of this creek already, finding some redhorse here an there, catching striped shiners and smallmouth bass. This was the only place I'd see carp, and there were a lot of them there. This wasn't an atypical thing in my experience- I fairly regularly encounter isolated schools of carp in a pool or perhaps two consecutive pools on a small river in low flows with none whatsoever to be seen above or below. Sometimes these schools have just temporarily taken up shop in a spot and will only be seen there for a season, perhaps having made there way there during high water conditions. Sometimes these locations prove to consistently hold fish at all times of year. Which of the two cases this was is not known to me, as it remains the only time I'd ever fished this river. I do hope to return of course.

When I spotted the carp it was because I disturbed them a little bit. Two of the fish noticed my movements and left the log. Their retreat to deeper water wasn't especially hastily and it didn't seem to disturb the other carp there much though they did begin to move around a bit. The moment I'd noticed these fish I stopped in my tracks, very literally. Once the pair that left were out of sight I slowly adjusted from my mid-stride position to a more comfortable stance and just waited and watched as the carp that had decided to shifted and adjusted into new positions as well, taking advantage of the new room. Even if some fish are spooked or disturb in a school, an immediate shift to being a still and quiet as possible can keep the ones that weren't from taking notice. Common carp are a particularly aware and weary species and it won't always work on them. This time everything went according to plan. The fish went about their business as though I wasn't there and in time I felt comfortable enough with their behavior to try to present a fly to them. The choice of target wasn't difficult when one fish sidled out of the shadow of the log and worked its way toward me parallel to it, shopping the river bottom for morsals. It wasn't the biggest fish there but none were that big nor were there any mirrors, ghosts or any other interesting morphs I might rather catch. I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth so I fed that little fish a green weenie. I'll often take a smaller feeding target over a non-feeding but bigger one so long as neither is actually that big, and none of these fish looked over 10 pounds to me. That active little common ate the weenie in textbook fashion and I lifted the rod to set the hook. Within the next few seconds there wasn't a carp in the lot that was left undisturbed. 

Though it wasn't an especially big fish, the circumstances made is a standout catch from that trip. Carp will always be a favorite of mine, big or small, and small midwestern creeks provide a backdrop to the pursuit of this species that I'm not as familiar with. Though I was looking for new species out there, the novelty of catching an old stand-by in a different setting withstood. 

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