July 29, 2013

Carp Camp 2013 Beaver Island, MI: The Delivery

Getting rigged up proper for Beaver Island can be a challenge to the average freshwater angler. Unless you fish the salt, much of the gear you have for Great Lakes carp is probably under powered for the task at hand. My last visit out to the island, I got spooled by an ornery young buck carp in the midst of the spawn. All 200 yards of my backing was out for the world to see and I didn't have anything to show for it. That was when I was fishing a Ross F1 #4, mated with a Ross RX 9 weight. This time around, I brought in the big guns, putting aside my Ross Momentum for the F1 #5. I spooled up that badboy with 300 yards of backing and a Scientific Anglers Grand Slam textured taper flyline, designed by Bruce Chard. There is no way I was gonna get spooled this time! While I sat at the house rigging up my rods and reels, I had discovered on Facebook that Chard's Gland Slam taper I just spooled up had just won the Best Saltwater Fly Line award at IFTD earlier that day. Yahtzee!

fly porn
fly porn
Fly selection for carp is different on Lake Michigan than anywhere else. Think big. I always bring my kit with me when traveling to fish. It is most unwise to show up at a joint unprepared. Even with research, fly selection can change like the wind and the hell if I'm gonna get caught with my pants down. Bringing my tying kit with allows me to match the current forage, see what kind of flies the guides are fishing and tying, and also provides for some entertainment during our downtime at the house. This go round, the guides were downsizing a bit, so the big beefy, burly stuff that I had tied and brought with were probably gonna be a bit super sized for this trip. See? I would have been screwed if I didn't bring my kit. I ended up tying up some large swimming nymphs as an insurance policy, in efforts to mimic the hex mayfly nymphs that were abundantly present. And it would eventually pay off.

fly porn
Water temps were pushing seventy degrees near shore. That, coupled with boat time casting from the front deck, meant that it was time for wet wading. I left the waders at the house and geared up in my flats boots, neoprene booties/gaiters, and my Mountain Khaki Granite Creek pants. I've exclusively worn these MK pants when fishing for the last three years now. Not only are they comfortable and quick drying, but the SPF 50 rated material is key to keep my legs from getting burned. Some folks like to sport shorts, not I. I like pants not only for the UV protection, but from shore hazards like stinging nettles, thorns, and stinging insects. I donned my CarpPro MK Granite Creek Windshirt for an upper. This was a wise decision. I wasn't concerned with my core temp from the winds since air temps were ranging from the low 60s in the morning to mid 70s in the afternoon, so the wind proof aspect of the shirt was a crucial advantage to me on this outing. On the boat rides in and out, however, this shirt kept me dry from all the surf spray. Unlike the other campers who had to don jackets in order to stay dry, I was able maintain preparedness without having to change clothes and still maintain my level of comfort. Winning.

the fight
I was definitely equipped with the right gear; so how'd I do? Find out soon when Part 3 concludes the Carp Camp recap.

July 25, 2013

Carp Camp 2013 Beaver Island, MI: The Setup

the Emerald Isle
The two hour ferry ride over to Beaver Island from Charlevoix is always a pleasant experience. It gives me an opportunity to clear my head, anticipate my arrival, as well as get myself into the right frame of mind and acclimate myself to island time. Beaver Island Boat Company provides the ferry service, and just a week or so prior to my arrival, word of a failed port engine on the Emerald Isle posted on Facebook, putting she ship out of service indefinitely. The Emerald Isle is BIBCO's flagship boat, the bigger, younger ship in the company's fleet. Service was to resume on the Beaver Islander, a ship I've yet had the pleasure of cruising on. The ferry ride over was nochalant, with little difference between the two ships apart from capacity and vending options, a true testament to the professionalism of BIBCO and their staff. Upon our entrance to St James harbor on the island, we were surprisingly greeted by a biplane, cruising around the island at a low altitude. The familiar sights of the harbor and the bright red roof of the Central Michigan University boathouse brought back pleasant memories of my last visit to the island. It was like visiting an old friend.

St. James Harbor
Upon arrival, we made our way off the dock and over to the Fisherman's House where we were to make home for the next five nights. I had caught wind of the terrible conditions that plagued Cameron's TFM hosted trip. A few of the guests from TFM's trip stayed back a bit longer and fished an unscheduled day in hopes of breaking the funk now that the weather had cleared up considerably. After meeting and chatting with a few of the carryover guests, I walked over and met Cameron at the boat landing as he was coming in on Kevin's boat. A fine day on the water, but no carp. Hard to believe that between threes boats, six anglers, and four days out, only two carp were landed. Brutal. Although brief, it was nice to chat and catch up with Cameron before he headed off to the air strip to catch his flight out.

The Fisherman's House
I made my way back to the house and unpacked, settling in before all of the campers arrived. There were many thoughts running through my head, wondering about how the fishing was going to be over the next several days. We were slated to have a nice stretch of stable weather, though we were unsure how long it would hold out past three days. Conditions were certainly better than for the TFM group, but was weather the only factor at play regarding the tough carp bite? Photos of hex and large drake mayflies started popping up on social media a few weeks prior to Carp Camp. Hex popping around the end of June/early July was common so there wasn't much cause for alarm. On the boat ride over, the ship was covered with hex spinners, still wasn't worried. As I sat down to a grilled dinner with the campers, we chatted and speculated throughout the evening of what was to come of the fishing. Much anticipation.

Hexguide house
Day one started with a great breakfast courtesy of the Dalwhinnie. We met up with the Indigo guides and constructed a game plan for the day. We were going to follow the wind and the warm water, fishing the windward sides of the islands and the cups and bays that would catch and hold the warm surface water as it blew in to shore. I had my fly selection picked out and my rods rigged and ready. We grabbed our lunches from the deli, and I saddled up with Sweet Chili Martinez for my first day. We launched the boat and made our way out of the harbor, headed to the west. What we would find when we got to the flats we did not know. The plan was to fish from the boat as much as possible, allowing us to sneak up to the fish as close as we could. This isn't always the easiest tactic. Drifting boats, the wind, weary, deep carp changing course as you cast to them, and water currents, this can all be a challenge. At one point I had done a complete 360 from a fish I was targetting from when I had started my backcast to when the fly was delivered. Disorienting to say the least.

da boat
Over the following four days we covered a lot of water and saw a lot of fish. We all hauled a lot of line, got our boots wet, and casted plenty of flies. Sometimes we found ourselves in a complete cluster of tangled line and knotted leader, other times, in a perfect zen like trance of enlightenment, fishing to a pod of fish circling in a pool of bathroom temp water. I would be hard pressed to say that we didn't fish hard. We were thorough. We were complete. We had brought our A game.

To see how the fishing went, stay tuned for Parts Two and Three.

July 24, 2013

CarpPro Issue 4

Issue 4 of CarpPro magazine went live while I was on Beaver Island. Peruse it if you haven't already.

July 23, 2013

Who says carp live in ugly places?

beach front
Whoever said carp live in ugly places is full of shit.

Full report of Carp Camp 2013 on Beaver Island to come.

July 10, 2013

Departure: RFX > CVX > SJX

The meat train has left the building.

Midnight Meat Trains
Departing The Roughfisher Command Post (RFX) for Charlevoix, MI (CVX) then St James, Beaver Island (SJX).
ETA St James Harbor 1030 07/11/2013

Image Courtesy of Third Coast Fly
Recent word from Indigo Guide Service is that the pigs have arrived, with plenty of 30# class fish being caught and landed. Even more impressive are the post spawn females weighing in at over thirty pounds.

Let Carp Camp 2013 Commence.

July 8, 2013

chum bucket

The carp of Beaver Island and Lake Michigan are unlike any other, they prefer meat and plenty of it. Out on the expansive flats of BI, I want to use any advantage I can get to help separate my fly from the abundantly plentiful round gobies and sculpins that the carp feed on. I tied up the Chum Bucket utilizing materials exhibiting visibility in the ultraviolet spectrum. UV visibility always adds an edge in cloudy weather, deeper water, or low light conditions. Even in bright sunlight, UV visibility can make your fly stand out on the flats.

chum bucket
When looking for UV materials to tie with, don't just go by the labels on the materials. Just because an item is marked UV doesn't mean it will show up in the UV spectrum. Sometimes it just gives off a purple UV like appearance instead of actual UV luminescence. Do yourself a favor and pick up a small UV light. I have a keychain sized UV light from Loon that was originally designed to cure their UV epoxies, adhesives, and paints, but now serves as a compact useful tool to bring along to fly shops and craft stores to help identify UV products.

Toss out the Chum Bucket and see what follows.

July 7, 2013


articulated Midnight Meat
articulation [ahr-tik-yuh-ley-shuhn]

From Old French articulacion, from Medieval Latin articulatio

Noun: articulation (plural articulations)
A joint or the collection of joints at which something is articulated, or hinged, for bending.

Who's fishing articulated flies to carp? That's what I thought. Some fodder for the apex predators of Beaver Island.

July 5, 2013

Fly Fishing for Roughfish on the Ottertail River

Fly Fishing for Roughfish on the Ottertail River
Join me and Doug Harthan of Front 20 Outfitters, LLC to learn some of the finer points of Fly Fishing the Ottertail River. We are offering a guided fly fishing trip on July 26 for 6 anglers. We will be fishing the Ottertail River for rough fish and anything else that may come our way. That is a great opportunity and price for an opportunity to learn some techniques for fishing for our abundant rough fish, these fish are great fun on a fly rod and challenging as well. The Ottertail River is a great fishery and is definitely underutilized by fly anglers. Don't miss out, give Doug a call or email or use the contact form to reserve your spot! We have 6 spots and the cost is only $50.00 per angler for a day of fishing & learning.

Cost: $50.00 per Angler
Date(s): July 26, 2013

July 3, 2013

Orvis presents Carp Central

The secret is out, Orvis loves carp!
Orvis Carp Central
Well maybe it's not such a secret anymore, but it is true, Orvis gets it when it comes to fishing for carp on the fly. And now they want to help you get it too, with the help of CarpPro and their Pro Staffers Carp on the Fly, Fly-Carpin, Mr. P, and many others. Carp Central is full of instructionals and how-to's when it comes to carp on the fly. Check out what The Orvis Company has been doing with carp. This is a great site to lean on, it's definitely worth the look folks.