Monthly Archives: July 2011
I’ve fought the idea of carp fishing for a lot of years – I figured if I wasn’t willing to handle the fish and remove the hook, I had no business fishing for them (which is why there’s no way in hell I’m going shark fishing any time soon). Tyler and his friends had spent the last year talking about carp, re-living battles with carp, watching videos of other people catching carp… Until I finally broke down and asked if I could go on the next trip.
Part of me was wishing I’d be lucky enough to hook one and finally see the start of my backing, while the other part of me was secretly hoping I could get through the entire day without so much as a bump so I wouldn’t have to touch one. En route to the river Tyler gave me a pep talk – basically he told me not to get my hopes up because it had taken him numerous trips to the river before he reeled in his first carp. Sounded like trout fishing to me.
I spent the earlier part of the day killing as much time as possible, tinkering with flies and indicators, skipping poppers for smallmouth, and dropping lines like ”Oh no honey, you go ahead and cast, I’ll learn from watching you.” Tyler landed one within the first couple of hours and I played photographer (if you can’t tell by the photos, I’m not a natural with the camera). I was starting to get the itch though watching him fight that carp and began eagerly searching for the next telltale puff of mud.
We waded along the left side of an island and found a group of happy carp feeding with their tails waving in the air. I acted as official carp spotter, yelling clock positions as Tyler crept towards them from downstream. Eventually I got tired of being a bystander (watching someone else cast can only hold my attention for so long) so I waded out to the middle of the river and began easing toward him and the mudding carp.
After what felt like an hour of slowly creeping upstream, I finally managed to reach Tyler, who was happy to hand over his rig which ended in an indicator and crayfish-looking pattern. I cast a few feet beyond a feeding carp, trying desperately not to dump line on top of him while leaving myself plenty of slack so the fly wasn’t ripped back downstream. I cast over and over to him, failing to drift the fly within his narrow feeding zone. Eventually he took a break from happy mudding and I was forced to target fish farther upstream and closer to the banks. The farther away my cast was, the sloppier the presentation, and my fly got nowhere near those big rubbery lips.
Finally, the carp moved in closer again. I dropped the fly a few feet beyond the golden flash, where it quickly sank to the bottom and was swept towards the fish in the current. I watched in anticipation with blurry eyes locked on the indicator and trembling fingers slowly stripping in line to keep up with its progress. Just as the indicator reached a rock at the center of the river and began to divert around it, it was forcefully pulled below the water. I scrambled to set the hook and within seconds my reel was screaming as the fish took off upstream. I looked down and saw the line fly by and then a miracle happened…
I found my backing.
After a few minutes of fighting the fish I was able to swing him over to the gravel bar Tyler was standing on so he could tail him. It took me a second to get over the idea of fish slime and god knows what else I’d get covered in, but when Tyler asked if I wanted a photo with the first fish to put me into my backing, I of course said “Hell yeah.” He was no monster (and he had the ugliest lips I’ve ever seen), but he sure had enough spunk to take me to that fishing milestone.
Of course, Tyler had to show me up with a bigger fish and a longer fight right at sunset. Which means I’ll probably be back for redemption in the near future…