September 28, 2010

First Impressions: Carp Fishing the South Platte

DSP
First impressions are crucial. From that meeting with a potential client to that joke you deliver in front of your peers, they are as important as that first cast to a skittish carp. I was luckily in the hands of one of Denver's finest brownliners. Yet, even he approached the venture with trepidation. With success, he finds both credibility in himself and his compadre. Fail, and we both delve into the abyss of mediocrity. Most men break under pressure.

There has been a lot of hype placed on the Denver South Platte. In it's glory days, untold numbers of fish breaking twenty pounds graced the pixels of overly proud bloggers; their success fat off their dominance over corpulent common carp. Yet many have failed to notice the increasingly difficult task of catching a DSP carp until recently. Not to downplay the Denver carp scene, but from my experience, the South Platte carp fishery is of similar challenge and merit of many other urban fisheries across the nation, an enigmatic endeavor.

ditch fishin'
I knew it was going to be a tough go of things when a subdued grey bodied carp crack pattern spooked the bejesus out of the fish from five yards away. These little monsters matched the natural forage present in these waters, crawfish. Even hover that fly above the surface and skittish fish would erupt in a boil, leaving a tell tale wake of despair and frustration. To fish of less sophisticated palates, however, poor man's lobster was welcome fare, even inciting chase and pursuit.

The DSP is known for it's incredible sight fishing; oddly enough, my first few takes on the pattern where caught swinging blind amongst the concrete rubble and sheet piling lining the bank. Urban warfare at its finest. Our clear water pursuits were fruitless, as clawed raptors have keen eyes for fish from a mile high, thus minimizing any possible chance we had with these cyprinids. Much like the tactics I've employed back home, these wary fish were using cover and deep water to protect themselves from masked river bandits. I find it fitting that the only landed carp of the trip was hooked underneath of an overpass, using the concrete shoring and shadows of the overhead bridge deck as cover. Pressured fish just don't make themselves vulnerable in clear water.

breaking the seal
Fortunately for me, the bandito lifestyle lends itself to the credo "Improve, Adapt, Overcome". A good roughfisher never gives up, and my persistence paid off by finally breaking the seal. Battling the odds of concrete pylons, steel shrapnel, bank shrubs, and a nearly straightened size 8 forged stainless steel O'Shaugnessy hook, my bandito brethren and I overcame the challenge and landed a beautiful mirror carp on the banks of the DSP, just downstream of the municipal water treatment plant. Perhaps it was the slowly suffocating grip of the ammonia coating our lungs, or the huge dose of pharmaceutical residues and adrenaline pumping through our veins, we were the Kings of the South Platte, if only for a day.