In true roughfisher form, I hadn't showered in three days, and my pathetic scraggly excuse of a beard was nearly a week old. At daybreak, I still wasn't sure where to start my plan of attack. I headed down to the different spot, further upstream from my usual place. I spotted a juvenile smallmouth bass near shore, but no signs of carp. The area I scouted was still shady; it was only 0900 and still early for carp activity. I gathered some notes in my head and determined that this would be a better spot to try in the afternoon. I made my way back up the trail and drove over to my usual spot. When I arrived, I noticed that a fly angler I met yesterday afternoon was there again with his tandem pontoon. We chatted for a bit about some spots, hot flies, and fish. I gave him a couple antron nymphs, wished him luck, and headed on my way.
There were a half dozen flies that I wouldn't have minded tying on first. However, I haven't hit the vise in a long while (since the swap), and certain patterns in my box are depleted, including my trusty X Factor nymph. I "settled" for a clouser swimming nymph on my 8, and a San Juan carp assassin on my 6. It's been a while since I've fished both patterns. First up, I grabbed my 6 and rolled an underhand cast to the edge of a weed patch. I let my fly sink for a few seconds and slowly stripped it back a few inches. My line went taut and I had a big fish on. This was a great start to the day.
That was definitely one of the bigger fish I've caught all season, maybe not in length, but in girth and weight. That fish was a chunk; nothing like John Montana's orcas from the Columbia, but a respectable fish for Northern Minnesota. I switched off between the carp assassin and swimming nymph all morning long and proceeded to catch fish. The swimming nymph was definitely the more productive fly, and one I often overlook in my fly box. I need to fish this pattern more often.
The afternoon was rolling along great until I made a snap T cast into a shallow area that was being fed from a tiny spring creek. I had noticed a bunch of buffalo schooled up among the carp in this area to feed. The water feeding into this areas was crystal clear, however, there was a brackish mix of silt and vegetation from the fish rooting around. I stripped my fly back into this muddled mess and lost all visibility. I ended up hooked into a little runt of a carp. I wasn't sure if I had snagged it or not since I had lost contact with my fly. When I played the fish over to where I was standing, I noticed I had hooked it in the mouth. I tried to play the fish over to my landing net when it happened. At first, I didn't know what just took place; I was caught off guard. But the eerie pop and snap of high modulus carbon graphite breaking is unmistakeable, akin to fingernails scratching a chalkboard. The sound of a high end rod crumbling in your hands is enough to make a grown man cry. Thank you for lifetime warranties.
I pulled the line in hand over hand and landed the fish. This little pipsqueak was so not worth it.
The middle section below my tip had broken into three pieces; I now had a six piece rod instead of a four. They were fairly clean breaks with one piece breaking just above a guide wrap. The ferrules were tight, and there were no nicks on the blank from where a beadhead nymph could have possibly hit. Maybe the guide was wrapped too tight? I just hope that the rod can be fixed, rather than replaced. Those ARC series Scotts are hard to find, and the fact that Scott brought them back for their Classic Series in 2007 was a blessing.
I love that rod.
I dumped my shattered hopes and rod over at the truck and went back to the river with my 6. There was no use crying over spilled milk. I ran a couple of snake rolls into the veggie patch where I had caught my first fish of the day, and let the carp assassin marinate for a while. I pulled back to find a nice carp on the receiving end of the hook. That made me feel better.
I managed to catch a couple more fish throughout the rest of the afternoon. I should have switched over to the swimming nymph, but I kept the carp assassin tied on, in defiance. I retired the swimming nymph for the day, and proved to the carp that I could still catch fish, even though they had kicked my ass and broke one of my favorite rods.
I may have had the last laugh with a caught fish to end the session, and over twenty carp brought to hand over the last two days isn't bad. But it is a seemingly hollow victory when a soldier lay fallen as a casualty. There will be no retribution, other than the hopes that the rod will one day return to redeem itself and prove its place among men.