June 29, 2008

Carp on the Fly

Apparently fly fishing for carp is becoming more mainstream with every passing day. Recent articles on the subject, although brief, have been published in some of the major fly fishing periodicals. Most recently, fellow blogger John Montana of Carp on the Fly fame, had a mention in the summer issue of Flyfisher, magazine of the Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF).

John's blog, and his links to other sites on the subject, were referenced as a web resource in a story by Roger Phillips, "Carp on the Fly". Of course this may just be a shameless plug to get more traffic on my blog, since I am John's blogroll. But on a more serious note, two important things come to mind in that publication. One is that carp are beginning to lose their misnomer as a trash fish. The prize of many anglers across the world, carp still have a hard time shrugging off the image of a garbage fish in the United States. The embracing of fish like the carp by fly anglers, only serve to improve its image as an adversary worthy of much respect. This will hopefully lead to a greater appreciation of our other underutilized native fishes like the buffalo, redhorse, and other sucker species.

The other item of note, is that print media is beginning to lose much of its edge in the Information Age. Online resources are at the forefront for expanding many anglers' horizons. With the advent of video-sharing sites and blogging, one can be introduced to all sorts of eclectic methods of angling. From learning how to double-hand or spey cast, to tightline nymphing for redhorse, everything you ever wanted to learn about fly fishing is at the touch of your fingertips. Print media still has its place, but many younger anglers are well connected, and are able to access those resources through non-traditional means like PDAs, Smart Phones, and other digital devices. Wireless technology can even enable those resources to be accessed streamside.

If you don't do so regularly, please check out the sites on my blogroll. These guys are the unsung heroes of furthering our cause; the true underground. The content that is discussed on our blogs is totally under the radar of the major periodicals. Those magazines are becoming way out of touch with their readers, and it is even more so apparent after reading a few entries from Keith Barton's SingleBarbed blog. These guys give the readers what they want to read. We don't need another stinking article on how to indicator fish nymphs on a western stream, or read another story about a guided trip to a far of locale that none of us could ever afford in our lifetime. Get real. We're not a bunch of Orvis boys here. We don't want the same bullshit stories about blue ribbon trout streams or steelhead runs. We want the stories about our lives and about the fish that run through our backyard that nobody cares about except us. We want stories about the guys that hunt buffalo with a fly and go home with a shattered rod, or catch monster carp on the flats of the Columbia, or entice an American Shad to take one of his hand tied offerings. This is the stuff roughfishers are made of.

June 23, 2008

After the spring spawn, fish activity has slowed down a bit. Between work and family life, my opportunities for roughfishing are waning, as is typical for this time of year. Similar to the mid-winter doldrums, trying to stay involved in the sport is always key at this point. Whether it is through fly tying, catching up on some reading, or checking in to see what's happening on my favorite fishing blogs, there's always something out there to pique my interest.

Having a stream run through my backyard is somewhat taunting; I get to look at flowing water all day long and dream of throwing a loop into the slackwater just ahead of the bridge, hoping for something to take my offerings. Unfortunately the stream does not hold much for resident fish after the spring spawning runs. At least not near my house anyway. Typically all I find are young of the year sunfish, crawfish, dragonfly nymphs, the occasional minnow like central mudminnows, and of course, tons of mayfly nymphs. With the diversity of aquatic invertebrates in these waters, there can be some cool hatches to observe, especially with a camera.

Yesterday was an exceptional day for photographing streamside insect life. I got quite a few decent photos of different mayfly species, caddis flies, damsel flies, and dragon flies with my Canon Powershot S3 IS. I love the supermacro setting. You can really get the detail of these bugs, without the need for a couple thousand dollar lens. The setting also works great for photographing tied flies on the vise.

Here are a couple more photos from yesterday to share.

June 21, 2008

Some more bug photos from today

Black caddis

Molt, March Brown dun

Crippled dun

Night Flier

June 15, 2008

The Esoxer and I met up yesterday to do some roughfishing. Derek has been on a muskie on the fly tour over the past month, and roughfishing was a nice break from the rigors of chucking half-chickens with a big beastie telephone pole rod.

The weather was favorable throughout the day, a departure from the wet and dreary weather cycle we have been on, which has left everything in a soggy state. High flows on the Otter Tail have been the norm as of late, and yesterday was no exception. Flows were even higher than on Thursday, at around 1200 cfs. There looks to be no relief in sight, until things dry up for awhile.

We decided to fish the tailwater at Orwell. Always a good spot for fish. Derek tied on a blue and white deceiver and managed to catch a few of the Otter Tail's legendary smallies. I bottom bounced a crawler and hooked up with a bunch of goldeyes. They are definitely an underrated fish in these parts. They are quite feisty, providing acrobatic fights; this is about as close as you will get in the midwest to fishing an American shad run.

We moved downstream to fish a major current seam where I had spotted a herd of buffalo. I tossed a few nymphs and a san juan carp killer to no avail. Derek caught his first bluegill on a fly. I caught this chunky smallmouth with beautiful mottling before we packed up and moved on over to the backwaters.
When we arrived at out carp spot, we saw a fish continuously rising near a culvert. Derek rigged up his rod a dropped a prince nymph in there. After a few drifts, he hooked up with a largemouth bass. Fish were here alright, but things were not looking good for carp fishing. These silt choked waters are so turbid, you can't even see a fish right at your toes. Literally. I was up in the flooded grass trying to stalk a few carp, when a pair of fish swam up within a foot or two of my boots to spawn. They had no clue I was even there. I wouldn't have any idea that they were there either, save for a couple of fins breaking the surface of the water. Carp fishing was slow. I hooked up with a few bullheads and moved to a different spot.

After checking with Derek, he was having no luck convincing a carp to ditch the spawn and take a fly. I launched a half crawler into the pool he was fishing and almost instantaneously had a hookup. The fish leapt out of the water. Turns out it was a smallish female, full of eggs.
That bite was a false indicator of how the next few hours would go. We had to work for fish. Derek even gave up his fly rod and grabbed a spinning rod. We caught a few robust bullheads, including a nice little channel cat that weighed a couple of pounds. Would have been good for the fry pan.
A few more carp were caught before we called it a day and packed up for home. For my standards, I thought it was a pretty slow day. Derek enjoyed himself, and just catching a fish, any fish, was better than a thousand casts for muskie with no return. He managed to catch his first carp on a crawler, and was welcomed to the sport of roughfishing with the traditional carp splash on the release.

Tight lines!

June 12, 2008

It had been nearly two weeks since I've been fishing, and almost three since I'd been able to chase some after roughfish. Rain has been widespread across the state over the past few weeks, including bouts of severe weather. The Otter Tail river has been flowing high since spring melt. Flows have been above Q80 for quite some time now. Typically peak flows occur in early June then begin to subside until the following spring. I'm ready for them to go back to normal already.

I thought the redhorse were done spawning by now, however, I found a male golden redhorse with nicely developed tubercles on it's head.

A few silvers were still hanging around, but the size and numbers have dropped off considerably since they were done spawning about month ago.

The upside to warmer water temperatures is that the mooneyes, goldeyes, and freshwater drum have moved in. The mooneye has been eluding my camera for sometime now. I'd also like to catch more drum, especially on the fly. I managed to catch all three species.

The carp are spawning.

Fishing for carp was somewhat of a challenge. With fish actively spawning, it was difficult to get a fish to take it's mind of off of doing the deed long enough to take a bait. After putting in quite sometime, I managed to catch three average sized specimens before moving on.

Things will be slow on the carp front until spawning is over. There goes my ace in the hole, when the river action runs slow. Now that the fish are finally active, though, the opportunity for sight fishing carp will arise. Tailers and cloopers welcome.

Look at the barbells on this carp. Fu Manchu
Freshwater Drum, Aplodinotus grunniens
Goldeye, Hiodon alosoides
Mooneye, Hiodon tergisus

June 10, 2008

The rivers down in SE MN are flowing chocolate milk and are blown out. Even the Whitewater, which wasn't hit nearly as hard as the Root River system last weekend, was up pretty good. Many streams in the region were at or near bankfull. On the Root, Preston and Lanesboro are dealing with some flooding. Suffice to say, I did not attempt to drift a fly this week.

The forecasted 2-4" + for tomorrow and Thursday will not help situations at all, as the ground is pretty saturated. This does not bode well for project work slated for the North Branch of the Root. Work will be delayed for a couple of weeks, minimum. This may not be all bad though. Even though July in SE MN can feel like a sauna, carp fishing should be in full swing by then. Also, Wendy Berrell will be back from Oregon fishing with John Montana, so we should be able to do some plundering and hook in to some nasty fish.

In the meantime, It's been way too long since I've pulled a fly from a beefy buglemouth. I need to hit the water this weekend. Bad. Esoxer will be in town, hopefully looking for a break from boat fishing. It would be nice to have company on the river for a change.

Carp Ho!

June 4, 2008

Poor weather conditions, a busy work schedule, and a lack of coordination didn't allow for me to get out fishing this week. I'm in trout heaven, the Driftless Area of Minnesota, working on some projects this month, but that didn't spark enough interest for me to venture out on a stream after hours.
Jonesing for some roughfish, I checked out the riprapped drainage ditch behind the hotel last night to no avail. If the rain will clear, next week will provide better opportunity to see some stream time.

There are some legendary redhorse runs in these parts, though most travelers to this area seek out its browns, brooks, and rainbows. I'd love to tie in to a nice shorthead or even add the reclusive northern hognose sucker to my lifelist, by I won't shrug away any brookies. Gotta love those native fish.

Here's the view from Garvin Heights: