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October 1, 2011 / flogginwater

Carp, on the fly!

This afternoon I had some downtime at work, so I took the chance to bust out the new fly rods and stop at a little urban pond for some casting practice. This is one of my favorite carp fishing ponds – with bait that is. Usually the water is too nasty to sight fish by early May. Today wasn’t really any different, but I wasn’t going fishing per se, I was going casting.

I spent at least a good two hours wringing out the new rods, and seeing how much I suck at casting. These rods are definitely stiffer than I’m used to – I’ve been a slow to medium action guy forever – the new LSi and the Echo Ion are both fast action (the LSi I would say is a Very Fast action). My casting stroke is both too slow, and too long for this rod for getting good distance. I was good to about 50 feet before my cast would pile upon itself at the end. I could shoot a LOT of line – at one point I only had 10′ of line left after one cast, and my backing knot was off the spool hanging just below the reel. THe problem was that my leader collapsed and the tip section of the line just wouldn’t turn over at that range.

I really need to work on my casting stroke if I’m going to fish this rod much beyond 40-50 feet (and even that, I’ve got to consciously put some effort into the cast to get it right). I still love this rod though – it’s so light, and it’s got so much potential. I just need to break myself of my slow action casting habits.

Casting the Ion and getting distance was easier, most likely because I was tossing a 9 weight line vs. the 6 on the LSi. At first I tied on a small foam bass bug for the casting practice. I cut that one off because it was causing too much drag on the lift-off stage. I replaced it with a deer hair popper that was a bit better, then finally I went with a woolly worm for a good round of practice. Eventually I think I got things mostly right with this rod, as I was able to punch a 70′ cast out about half the time after I got into a rhythm. I was still having problems with my casts piling, or the leader not turning over properly at the longer ranges. I *think* my problem is that I’m performing the second haul in my double haul too early. When my arm recuperates, I’ll try to get back out and try again.

After satisfying myself that I had hit a wall with casting practice, I decided to fish a bit. I hiked down to the dam, and found a young man fishing there. I went around him and hit the far west end of the pond, looking for carp in the lilly pads. I found some, and spooked them before I could dap. I went back to the southwest corner of the pond and noticed some mud plumes in the water. The water clarity was still pretty bad, but I could vaguely make out a dark shape on the bottom. I could also see the lilly pads rustling, and not because of the breeze.

I fired my woolly worm out and slooowly stripped it in. Missed a strike, then a second strike on the same retrieve. Could tell by the swirl that it *was* a carp out there. I cast again, dropping the worm right at the edge of the pads. As soon as I started to strip, there was weight. I set the hook and BAM – the fish errupted, and actually jumped. It was all I could do to keep him from dashing into the pads – and this was with the stout 8 weight! I started furiously cranking the line back onto the reel to get the fish fighting the drag, instead of my fingers.

The young man nearby came over to watch the fight. After almost loosing him in the pads again, I yarded him out – turning my Ion into an inverted U. It wasn’t a big fish – 2 or 3 lbs at the most, but he was feisty. I finally got him close enough to grab the leader, figuring I could land him fairly easily since he was just a baby. With a 15lb tippet, I wasn’t afraid of breaking him off by lifting him that way. I SHOULD have thought better of it though – I forgot the woolly worm was barbless.

As soon as I grabbed for him as I lifted him from the water, he wiggled free and fell right at the edge of the water. This, of course, was after I asked the young man to get a picture of me and my fish with my phone’s camera. I grabbed at the fish’s tail, but he splashed me as if to say “Screw you!” and dashed off for the pads again.

The other fish spooked, and the only fish I could see working were on the other side of the pad field, out of casting range (and really, even if I hit the far edge of the pads, it’d be retarded to even try fighting a fish through them. It could easily wind up with the leader busted and tied around the weeds, pinning the fish to the weeds.)

Then a nutria showed up and spooked the fish on the far side. Then it started raining. It was time to call it a day, so I headed home.

I’m torn – do I count this fish as my first fly-caught carp? I DID have him close in, I did have him out of the water, but I never actually laid hands on him.

It was a hell of a ride though, and I can’t wait to try again. A nice sunny afternoon is all we need and I think I’ll head back and try. I might even be tempted to try cold-weather carping this fall/winter if nothing else is happening, or I have a major itch to fish. Carp, for me, have always been fairly warm weather fish. I bet they can be caught in the winter though.

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5 Comments

  1. Lunkerhunt / Oct 1 2011 22:01

    May i refer you to the rule. It was developed under just such circumstances: The Rule

  2. John Montana / Oct 1 2011 23:17

    I am wit lunkerhunt. If you touched it, it counts.

    Either way, congrats man!

  3. e.m.b. / Oct 2 2011 04:38

    A “good release.” Counts…and congrats!!! đŸ™‚

  4. deanwo / Oct 2 2011 05:14

    Nice post and casting review. I have many releases similar to yours with the carp and do consider them a catch (none with carp–I've yet to get my first carp on the fly).

    Getting the shot of fish in hand is the icing on the cake. Targeting, casting, setting the hook and working the fish in is what a good catch is all about.

  5. Cofisher / Oct 2 2011 09:15

    I'm a master at the long distance release, I say it counts (and you had a witness!) I'm also a master of the non-hooked catch, but that's another story.

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