August 28, 2009

And we're back

prairie slough
Scouted some new water. Had to hit a different drainage system since the Otter Tail has been a major bitch this summer with its high flows, so I hopped over to a system within the Minnesota River drainage. For a change I figured on fishing a river that drains south. Change is good.

ready to roll
Arrived at a nondescript slough, tucked in the midst of prairie, CRP and ag land. Jumped a doe and a fawn who were bedded down in the reeds and tallgrass down by the waters edge. I scanned the waters surface for any activity. At first glance I saw nothing, the thick chocolate milk flowing by. I got up to a higher vantage point and examined the water more closely; underneath some submergent vegetation I made out the silhouette of a tail. Spotted! I can see you but you can't see me.

monkey off my back
I got my fly ready and my rod poised awaiting any ghosts that happen to drift by. On the edge of the cattails I spotted the shadow of the ghost and stealthily lobbed my fly just in front of the fish. Not being able to see more than an inch deep, I counted down to three in my head and watched for any movement. I saw the fish turn 90 degrees and change its position. I set the hook. Money.

There's something satisfying about sightfish caught fish; the hunt, the chase, the reward. There is a sense of affirmation that confirms that you successfully convinced a fish to take your fly. Perhaps the only thing more satisfying than a sight caught fish, is a fish that you sight cast to partially blind. What I mean by this is that you can see the profile of the fish and it's display, but can't see the actual take.
There is a major leap of faith at this moment, a one shot deal. Strip the fly too soon and you've spooked the fish. Wait too long and the fish spits the hook and moves on.

Sometime it's a stroke of luck that you've timed the set right; other times it's an educated guess. Success is extremely satisfying, like you got inside the fish's head and psyched it out. I hooked up with one more sightfished carp, before moving on. The pool was played out.

big dawg
I moved over to the Otter Tail to see how flow conditions were. Flows dropped considereably over the past few days, down from around 700 cfs to 486 cfs. Better, but that is still above the 80th percentile for this time of year. Water was still turbid, it always is, though lower river levels will help reveal more fish. Major schools of carp were not present, but they will be back. I know this.

sunny D
Tried casting to a pod of carp when some usurping sunfish came in and took the fly. Seems to be a common theme as of late. Also nabbed a black crappie out of the area before moving on.

It's been so long since I've held a carp that I took a hero shot of a cookie cutter carp. Bad form.

The catch of the day, another victim of encroachment. A little runt smallmouth bass thieved my fly while I was targeting some shorthead redhorse in a riffle run. Bastage. Damn near qualifier for the Flyfish Journal's Smolt of the Month.


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  1. Nice description of the sight fishing experience. I think in my trials and tribulations dealing with carp, I'm guilty of stripping too soon.

  2. Very nice JP... comebacks feel nice. Working on a summer carp slow down myself. Looking forward to a nice fall feed.

  3. Not fair.

    How can it be roughfishing if there are no Mickey Dee's visible, or high voltage power lines and a snarl of traffic?

    That looks too damn pristine to house roughfish - I think you were fishing dry flies and 7X but were ashamed to confess.

    ... and the post below is too convienient - them Carp was shocked earlier and you stuffed a fly in their lip while they were stunned and immobile.

    We (the readership) know stuff, dangit!

  4. @KB: if it makes you feel better, the interstate was less than a 1/4 mile away.

  5. Great to see you back in the fish JP, nice slabs for shurrr

  6. I don't know what I would have done if I'd have gone through a dry patch like you have had this season JP. Still nice to see you baggin a few.

  7. Right on! Nice work JP, sight-fishing is the best man.