So I've Been Told...

1. Long, delicate casts to visible, actively feeding targets on sunny, sweltering days are your best bet.
2. Sixth-sense strike detection is an art that must be mastered.
3. Expect at least one, mile-long, freight-train run.
4. Once hooked, given stout enough tippet, you're unlikely to lose them.
5. Though carp are fickle, once it "clicks", they start to come much easier.

I'm sure in general 1 and 2 up your chances dramatically...but so far I can only attest to 3 and 4.

Stole 90 minutes last night as the river was "bottoming out" at a cool, extremely turbid, 5,000+ CFS. Though the weather was pleasant (other than a slightly stiff breeze out of the SW), the water didn't look to promising. With the heavy sediment load added to the fairly high flow, no way was crossing the riffles-turned-rapids gonna happen, so a quick tour of the relatively slack water yielded not even a bump from the smallmouth that I had hoped would keep things interesting.

Up at the bottom of the main riffle I figured there was at least a better-than-fair chance of some bass or maybe even a cat gorging themselves on dislodged 'daddies. The past few outings, among more respectable specimens, have yielded multiple sub-3-inch smallies. Even a few of those would be welcome.

The wind, to a "developing" LH caster, meant rolls and speys while working my way north. Hadn't gotten too awful far when the fly got smacked. And I mean smacked. Like a steelie (or here, a smallie) chasing and slamming something on the swing. There was no hookset, I raised the rod and the slack cleared immediately...followed by the rest of the fly line off the reel...followed by another 30+ feet of backing.

As I was double- and triple-checking my drag, and trying not to bust a knuckle, the throbbing suddenly stopped. The pressure was still there, and there was a little give, but that huge sinking feeling hit like a ton of bricks.

Please, please, please...don't let the fly line be caught under a rock....

150' from my quarry and there was a decision to be made. I knew (suspected...hoped) the fish (if it was still on the line) was probably wrapped in the weedbed out in the middle. I knew this weedbed was at least thigh-high in low water (1k). I knew there was an even shallower bar somewhere between me and the bed. I had no idea what else lie between us, other than some fast-moving water. I had no idea how deep the bed itself would be. I had some idea how pissed everyone would be if I drowned chasing a stupid fish.

So, refusing to lose my fly line I got thigh-deep below the riffle, gaining back my backing and a few turns of line, and tried wrenching on the rig. There was definitely still give, but no way was it coming free. Tried giving a little slack but it was all taken by the current and I gained nothing.

The walk out to the hangup revealed little to fear. Never got deeper than my belly button. Getting close it was apparent the fish was still there...somewhere...small fly, pinched barb, tangled up but still there - Alex was right about them staying on. Managed to free itself (with my help) from the tangle, but it would be another 10 minutes before I could get a good look at it.

Bulldogged in water deeper than I could have guessed, and making a few more shorter-but-just-as-powerful runs, finally overcame the reel-handle coming unpinned and got to "the island" (which was under water save the wooden platforms, one of which you see in the pic) and managed a prototypical crappy cell phone photo.

Now that there's one under the belt, things should be looking up, right? Number 5. It's supposed to get easier. But I know that's not the case. I know it was dumb luck. I know there will be a lot more work and many more sweltering fishless days before I get lucky again. I know...I'd rather be lucky than good.

So I celebrated the only way fitting; clipped the fly off the leader and went home.


Alex said…
great story, Ed.

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