Archive for June, 2009

Jailbait

Monday, June 29th, 2009

You know where they don’t have Whataburger?

Russia.

Freakin’ Russians, that’s what they got there.

Vodka.

That’s what I say.

The Mayors

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

mayors

Roy and Molly were a fun couple.  We fished together exactly four years ago today.  The two were avid anglers who had just decided to try fly fishing.  Usually, they spent their time night fishing for bass, taking advantage of the cooler night time temperatures and lack of crowds on the water.  Neither of them had ever caught a fish with a fly rod.

Anyway, Roy bought a raffle ticket at Fly Fish Texas in March at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center.  He wanted to win an Orvis 5 weight that was up for grabs.  I had offered a guided carp trip for the raffle.  Roy told Molly: “If I win anything, it’ll probably be that guided carp trip (snort).” 

When the phone rang at their house that evening, Molly answered, and called Roy over her laughter:  “You’ll never guess who it is!”

The two were extremely good sports and they took me up on the trip.  We chatted in advance and I gave them some advice to go catch some panfish to get used to the fly rods and then we’d give it a shot when the weather warmed up and the sun stayed high in the sky.

Although neither of them landed a carp that day, they both got the experience of stalking and spotting, and they both got to see a fish eat their fly.  Molly got an eat from a carp, and in Roy’s case, a drum picked up his fly– and dropped it again– four times while he was trying to untangle the fly line from his feet.

I ran into Roy and Molly at Fly Fish Texas again in 2008, and Roy handed me a business card.  It turns out, he had become the Mayor of the town he lived in.  I instantly knew he’d make a great Mayor, because he was a genuinely friendly and upstanding man.  I had to point out, though, that I’d never heard of the town on his business card.

“That’s OK,” he said, “that’s not even the town I’m mayor of, that’s just the town with the nearest post office!”

Release Pics

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

We have all seen thousands of hero shots, the standard grip-and-grin, front cover of a magazine shot.  And, most of us are tired of them, unless there is something truly special about the picture– a guy with no arms and a grander marlin in his lap, a 5 year old girl hugging a fish twice her size.

As a guy who likes to take people out to catch their first carp, I’ve taken plenty of hero shots, and, you’ll see them on this blog from time to time.  However, my favorite shots these days are release shots– or other handling shots.  The release shot definitely has the most artistic potential, but some of the other snaps that come along the way do the best job at telling the whole story.

I just recently started a new job, and on the very last day of freedom my wife and I went to the lake to pole a flat for spotted gar.  The water was screwed up and we couldn’t see them, and as a last ditch attempt I decided to give the longnose gar a quick looking after.  My wife doesn’t like messing with fish bigger than a pound or two because they scare her, so I felt no guilt at all lunging for the 10 weight when I spotted the fish laid up and happy.

I handed her the camera before I boated the fish, because I just don’t get to catch a whole lot of longnose.  I expected to get a quick grip and grin before letting it go.  I honestly had no idea that she took pictures of the whole process though, until I downloaded them from my camera a few days later. 

deroping

 

juggling

 

release

Lane’s Big-Ass Carp

Monday, June 8th, 2009

History Lesson:

Texas Fly Report was shut down this week.  The proprietor, Alex, (see: Redemption) created the site in 2002 as a programming hobby, and most of the initial members came to the site from a now defunct Yahoo Group called Texas Warm Water Fly Fishers.

I knew Lane from the Yahoo Group and some of the outings we had, so he was a familiar name at TFR along with about 20-30 others.  I believe that Lane and I met around April of 2000 at an outing on the Brazos river near Glen Rose, TX.

This picture of Lane hooked up with his first carp is in direct result of those online communities and their friendships:

lanerodbend 

If you’d ever been to trashonthefly before I turned it into a blog, it’s a familiar picture.  Just looking at it makes me smile.  Lane was my test client– my first attempt to show someone else how to stalk and catch a carp.  It was May 24, 2004, and a lot has changed since then, but the memories remain the same.

When I got home from that trip, and while Lane was back on the road towards home, I posted the following message on Texas Fly Report–

Went fishing today with Lane (No-Tye-Much) and I don’t know if he’ll say anything so I’m spilling the beans, today he caught his first fly rod carp while targeting carp specifically. No bait, chum, or scent, just good old-fashioned sight fishing for spooky critters.

He said he hardly remembers the first few seconds but let me tell you the man can put some heat on a fish. When it ate the fly and promptly bolted for the log 4 feet away he whisked it– no I should say pounded it– out of danger immediately to where he had some fighting room.

The fish went 3 pounds which in a lot of ways is the perfect sized carp, the smaller ones fight fast and dirty. (Not to be misunderstood, a 6 pound carp fights like a train and bigger carp are real bulldogs– they do not “slow down” with old age)

We got a couple of beautiful pics which I’m sure Lane will be sharing with us later. Lane also took a rare pic of me with a carp as well, usually I’m solo because most people think I’m crazy for beating my head over the fish and walking banks for hours, straining my eyes and drinking hot water, walking through fire ant mounds and thistles:

What’d I forget, Lane? I won’t mention that one embarrassing moment involving you, the snake, the girl on the jetski and cowpoop.

I still distinctly remember Lane casting to that fish.  He was absolutely predatory with that fly rod, something I often wish other anglers could get a whiff of.  There was no hesitation after I pointed the carp– the fly was in front of that fish and now.

Big-Ass might have been a little tongue in cheek, but the fish gave him a great fight and it was mission accomplished.  Thanks for the memory, Lane.

lanehero

On the Catwalk

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

flatscap

 

Zach is a fashion beast.  Oh, the fitover-style sunglasses are mine, to be sure– in case of polarization emergencies.  The baseball hat as well.  But only Zach can turn a borrowed hat and a spare t-shirt into serious flats stalking gear.

His fish was also sporting something from the Fall 2008 line:  the Carp Gagger fly.  It’s nothing much, really, and it did the trick.

 

 carpgagger

Limit Minus Two

Monday, June 1st, 2009

I was cruising along on my way to a virgin flat when I noticed some small pops on the glassy surface.  I took a harder look and cut the motor without bothering to throttle down first.  By the time the boat came off plane I was already reaching into a rod locker and within seconds I was casting into the fish.  The pods were spread out over 30 acres or more, and I watched them group up and run down bait then branch off into separate smaller groups only to rejoin time and again.  It was like watching large raindrops come down a windshield, forming trickles that break up by the impact of another large drop.

After about an hour of trying to cut off trickles of menacing shad death with the boat I realized that my count was going to have to be verified.  I had 20 fish in the cooler.  Now things were starting to get interesting.  I was five fish from a sandbass limit.

I sometimes get goal oriented while fishing, and I started to wonder if I would jinx my luck by wishing for a limit.  25 fish would make us roughly 4-6 meals of assorted fish tacos or curry.  Meanwhile, the pods were building speed and the groups were getting larger, so it was harder to keep up with them and I was running into factions of 10-15 fish less frequently.

The wind suddenly blew out of the north and the water went to a ripple and the fish stopped blitzing all together.  During that time I was able to put three more fish in the cooler and release a couple of “unders.”  Putting around, I could see the fish on the graph but they’d moved down to the 10-15 foot range and most of them had started suspending.  If I really wanted to finish a limit, and if I hurried before they completely turned off until the evening, I’d have to break out the lead core and fish deep.  I considered it for a minute.  I’ve never kept a limit of sandbass, and it would be interesting to complete the deal on flies.  After about 3 tenths of a second, though, I realized I didn’t have lead core in the boat and I didn’t want to turn what had been a lucky diversion into work.

 

sandbass

 

It was time to hunt carp, and I had one quick stop to make before the main destination.  Within minutes of dropping the trolling motor and cruising the edge, I was seeing tons of fish.  Here’s a picture of the first.

 

carpinaboat

 

After landing 10 fish I considered putting on wading boots and making it a long day for numbers.  I had plenty of food and water to hit the 20 or 30 fish mark, but my lust for variety made me push on.  I finally made it to the intended destination around 4:30 and poled myself through about 1/3 of the flat to verify the presence of fish.  There were plenty of carp and a couple of buffalo as well.  I didn’t really intend to juggle a pole and a rod but one spotted gar was swimming slowly towards me and I was forced to tuck the pole under my arm and grab my rod.  I came close to landing the gar but it came off right at the boat.

23 sandbass and 10 carp.  Not a bad day sight fishin.  Hey, you ever seen those shows where the guys will turn their back to the camera to hide their “secret bait” or secret rig or fly?  This fish was playing cool with his mistake:

magichidin