I hit the brownwater late last week. It was too warm for snowmobiling, so I grabbed the fly rods instead. Armed with a two hander and a pocket full of nymphs, I tied on a roughfisher swimming nymph, Men In Black version, and rigged up my backup singlehand rod with a Lucille. I found a huge school of fish stacked up in one pool; I kept on scouting to see what else I could find. Low and behold I stumbled across a pod of shorthead redhorse. I grabbed the singlehander, pinched a shot on to my leader, and tossed the red headed stepchild in to the riffle. After some finagling, I dredged up a shortie. Gottdamn these are some beautiful fish.
After landing the fish, I made my way back upstream to the large pod of fish. Along the way, my fat ass broke through the two foot deep crust of snow, smashing my knee on a large granite boulder. That sumbitch smarted. Hard. At least I had a badass battle wound to wear as a badge of courage. I put down the short stick and grabbed the two hander, rolling out a tight loop just outside the pod of fish. I worked the adjacent riffle and swang the MIB like a G-man. It didn't take long before I apprehended my next suspect.
After working the outskirts for a while and nabbing a few more delinquents, I moved in to the pod to interrogate a few targets. Objective completed.
Between the melee of wrasslin with them buffalo, I managed to hook up with a monsta carp. This fish was one of several I had my eye on over the past few years. During the cold water months, these behemoth fish would hold tight in the middle of a pack of fish, nearly impossible to detect that they were even in the pod. They would also take cover under ice shelves. Lucky for me, higher flows had receded the ice shelves near shore, eliminating any chance of cover for these fish. As I worked the pod blindly, I managed to catch the big fish off guard as it took my fly. After playing the fish for nearly 5 minutes, I struggled trying to land the fish that was hooked a mere 10-15 yards from me. As I tried to work the fish closer to shore, the hook pulled free, a major disappointment.
I worked a few different areas and reaches of stream, managing to catch quite a few buffalo. I didn't manage to catch any quillback or more redhorse, but that was okay. Anytime I can land over a dozen buffalo in a day is alright by me. Just about when I had my guard down, I hooked in to something big. This fish ran for the main channel and started taking line. I tightened up my drag as the fish headed down stream in the moderately heavy current. Knowing that if the fish ran too far I'd lose it, I pulled up on the rod to bring it up to the surface to turn it. I hoped the extra rod length would help protect the 2X tippet on this fish. I finally pumped this fish up and grabbed a glimpse of it's reddish-orange anal and tail fins. Carp! Not only a carp, but that carp: the carp I had hooked up with earlier.
I played this brute for damn near 10 minutes. It felt like an eternity. Everytime the fish neared shore, I was afraid of breaking the tippet, or worse, snapping my rod. That is the only pain in the ass with the two hander, it is hard to land a fish by yourself with the long rod. Beaching it wasn't an option since there was some sharp and jagged shore ice. I also proved to myself earlier in the day that I lacked the agility to float on the crust of deep snowpack. I finally tired the fish enough to net it. When I put my hands around the fish, I knew it was a mutha fuckin' beast! This was a John Montana caliber carp.
The fish looks tiny in comparison to the two hander. The other photo I have of the fish doesn't do a proper job of displaying the size of this beast. I had it measured from the butt end to the first rod guide, 34 inches. The fish had a huge gut, worthy of gaining entry to the Fat Guy Fly Fishing Hall of Shame. This fish was easily a 20 pounder; length/girth estimates also correlate with that range.
I was lucky to go the entire outing on the same two flies I had started out with. They easily caught a dozen and a half fish between the two of them. Maybe if I wasn't so chicken shit to throw some big meat out there I'd fish the clam. But it's hard to switch it up when you're swinging flies that are producing. I need to help break the notion that carp don't feed in cold water. That's complete and utter bullshit. It's obvious they do, but I've been safely hiding behind the nymphs. I need to tie on a Darth Clam and deep dredge that bad boy. I need to bust out the guns and play with the big boys.
Do you think we can ride? Yes we can!