Faith and the Land of Giants

Day One: Blind Casts

Blackfoot Reservoir is one of those places that I have always struggled catching carp at.  I have no problem getting into trout there, but the carp have always seemed to evade me.  I have always showed up when it was too cold or the fish were not actively feeding at all.  Early last week my buddy Chris invited me to go and do some carp fishing with him at Blackfoot.  Adding to the excitement, we would be fishing with John from “Carp on the Fly” (www.carponthefly.blogspot.com) and Jim from Mr. P’s Blog (themrpblog.blogspot.com).

Chris and I both had class until noon so we didn’t get to the reservoir until 3:00 in the afternoon.  We first went to a spot where Chris had done pretty well a few days earlier.  A cold front had come through a day or two before so I was a little worried the water might have cooled down again.  To our relief, it had managed to stay pretty warm.  We waded out and started seeing fish right away.  Most of them were cruising around and not necessarily feeding very actively.  We managed to pick up one fish there pretty quickly and then the bite died.  Most of the fish would spook before we could even get a cast off.  We decided it was time to move elsewhere.

An Average Sized Carp for the Day

     We spent the next couple of hours scoping out some places that looked like likely spots carp would be.  Carp love shallow flats, especially when they are next to weeds.  We found a great looking spot and slowly worked our way into the water.  This spot had a lot more active carp than the previous spot we had been too.  With that said, it still took a couple of hours to really start getting into any fish.  It really turned on for a little while and we picked up three fish.  We only had a couple more hours of daylight and we wanted to scope out a few more spots for the next day.

Chris with the Biggest Fish of the Day

     We found one more cove that looked promising.  The road down was a little sketchy but we were able to make it all the way to the water.  There were carp jumping everywhere in this cove.  The sun had already gone over the hill so it was all about blind casting.  Blind casting to carp is still pretty foreign to me.  Before I started fishing with Chris, I would only sight fish to carp.  Now I have learned to look for mud lines and look for the type of water that carp like to hold in.  9 times out of 10 you’ll be able to pull out fish if you work a mud line.  I worked my way over to some weeds and started casting blind.  It didn’t take long to get into some fish.  We pulled out a couple more fish before it was too dark to see and decided to call it a day.  Although the fishing wasn’t easy, we managed to pick up quite a few carp between the two of us.  All of the fish were caught blind casting which like I said earlier is still an adjustment for me.  It is crazy how much effort a carp is willing to put into chasing your fly.  When they hit, there is no mistaking it.  If you aren’t holding on tight, you very well could get your fly rod ripped out of your hand.  Day one proved to be successful and I was already looking forward to day two!

Day Two:  Sunlight and Taliers

Chris and I woke up early this day and headed off to Soda Spring to meet John and Jim.  John was kind enough to buy us breakfast from the restaurant at the hotel they were staying at.  We made quick introductions and small talk over breakfast and quickly headed up to the reservoir.  When we first showed up the water was still pretty chilly.  There were a few carp jumping around but not much else going on.  John got into a fish pretty quickly while the rest of us struggled to pick up anything.  The fishing continued to be fairly unproductive so we packed up and went looking for some more active fish.

John with the First Carp of the Day

     The second flat we went to check out had a few fish but none of them were very active.  The water was still a little too cold.  However, we did see a couple of very nice sized carp swimming around.  We decided to move again and headed to a spot that Chris and I had a lot of success the day previous.  By the time we got here, the water started to warm up a little.  By noon it was like a light switch had turned on.  Carp started tailing and it was on!  John and I quickly picked up some fish before the water became too muddy to see anything.  We kept fishing but it had become nearly impossible to see what was going on so we headed over to see what Chris and Jim were up to.  Christ had landed a pretty nice carp and he was helping Jim sight fish to some pigs that were cruising a rock ledge.  John notice a pig of a carp and hooked up with it no problem.  As I was going out to net it, it made one more run and John’s trailer fly got stuck on a bush in the water.  The fish jumped at the opportunity and snapped the line like nothing.  It was really too bad because this carp was well over 20 pounds and a beast of a fish.  We continued to fish this area for a little while longer and saw a few more HUGE carp swimming by.  None of them were real interested though so we decided it was time to work our way back to the cars.  I will definitely be back to this rocky ledge in the near future.  I have never seen so many huge carp in one spot all swimming together.

More Average Sized Fish

Chris With Another Pig Mirror Carp

My Best of the Trip Weighing in @ 15 LBS

     As we worked our way back to the cars we started throwing bigger, more streamer like flies.  It was still too muddy to see any fish feeding but we knew they were in there.  We managed to pick up a few more before making it back to the vehicles.  We only had a couple more hours of good light so we headed to a spot John had done pretty well the day previous.  It started out slow but we eventually started to get into a few more fish.  Most of these fish were in spawn mode though and weren’t feeding too actively.  It was nearly impossible to cast without snagging up with a few of them.  It was also pretty difficult to take a few steps without stepping on any of them.  Even though they were spawning, John and Chris picked a couple up.  By this time it was starting to get cloudy and most of the good light from the day was gone.  We decided it was time to call it a day and worked our way back to the cars.

     It was great getting out and fishing with some new people that are so knowledgeable about fly fishing for carp.  I learned more in those two days than I think I have learned in most of my other carp outings combined.  Blackfoot Res truly is the land of monsters when it comes to carp.  I know that my best chances at a carp over 30 lbs are there in the Blackfoot Reservoir.  John and Jim fish the Columbia River over in Oregon and Washington.  I hope some day soon to be able to make it over there so I can learn a thing or two more.

Day Three:  Dry Carpin’ and a Little Piece of Humble Pie

After the fun weekend I had of carp fishing I decided I wanted even more.  Josh had a lot of things going on so we weren’t able to leave Rexburg until 1:30 or so.  We spent the next hour and a half driving to a spot that had previously been very good to us.  Upon arriving we got out and looked around.  To our surprise there was not a single fish to be found.  We were both pretty disappointed determined to get into some good fish headed elsewhere.  An hour and a half and over 100 miles later we were finally near some carp.  We suited up quickly and headed for the river.  Unfortunately the water was very cloudy and a little cold as well.  We saw a few tailers but were unable to pick any of them up.  Josh did manage to catch a really nice brown trout but it got off at his feet so no pics this time.  We decided that it was time to move to bigger and better things and headed elsewhere.  We made one more quick stop on the river but it was too murky to see anything.

As we drove by a spot on a nearby reservoir, we began to notice what looked like hundreds, if not in the thousands, of carp tails poking up out of the water.  We quickly pulled over and went down to investigate.  To our surprise, they were not tails at all.  The carp were swimming around in large schools sipping midges off the lakes surface.  For the most part, they would just swim around with there mouth open, eating whatever got sucked into their snout.  I didn’t have a dry on so I threw out and managed to pick up a fish pretty quickly.  As soon as I got the skunk off I decided it was time to try my luck at a carp on the dry.  I had caught grass carp plenty of times on dry flies but never a normal carp.  I threw on an adams and a griffiths gnat.  It didn’t take very long to get a take but my hook was so light it bent out.  A few minutes later I heard Josh hollering that he had just gotten one to take on the surface as well.  His hook was a lot bigger and he was able to stick it pretty well.

Josh was Catching the Heck Out of Them on Dries!

Love the Gold

     A couple more hours went by and Josh continued to catch the heck out of them on dries.  I on the other hand was struggling quite a bit.  Every time that I would get a good take my hook would bend out on me.  Every time that they took my larger fly I would pull it out of their mouth before a hook set was even possible.  I very easily could have thrown my normal carp flies back on and done well but this was such a rare opportunity I wanted to take advantage of it.  Unfortunately for me it just was not going to happen.  We continued to fish until we couldn’t see anymore and the fish were still rising.  If we had headlamps I am sure we could have fished even longer into the night.

Yup That’s a Royal Humpy Hanging out his Mouth

Dry Carpin’

My One and Only Carp of the Trip

      Sometimes with fishing everything works out in your favor.  The stars are all aligned and you have a banner day.  Other days you are delivered a big piece of humble pie.  Yesterday was a pie day for me.  So much of fishing depends on faith.  You have faith that there are going to be fish where you are fishing.  In our first attempt, there were no fish where we thought they would be.  With that said, we regrouped and moved on to plan B.  Unfortunately, Plan B didn’t really pan out either, so it was time for Plan C.  Plan C was perfect and we found plenty of feeding fish, but even then faith is required.  You have to have faith that the fish are going to eat what you throw at them.  Without faith and confidence in your flies, you won’t catch very many fish.  I had a great time watching Josh hook up with so many fish on the dries even though I was struggling.  I had multiple opportunities to hook up but it wasn’t meant to be.  It’s ok though, getting a little piece of humble pie every once in a while keeps you from getting cocky and helps you keep the faith!  I am already looking forward to my next trip to the land of giants.

Better Late Than Never

This post is a mixture of a few different reports over the past couple of weeks.  Last weekend camped out near Henry’s lake and fished the opener.  Fishing was much slower than years past.  The fish had moved off the banks and the weather was not helpful at all.  It snowed three inches the first night we were there and the wind blew hard the whole day.  Josh ended up landing the only fish that our group was able to catch from the lake.  I lost one and Josh also lost a really nice brook trout.  We decided to head somewhere else close by and try our luck.  There were a ton of people at this spot and it was combat fishing at it’s finest.  With that said, we still landed over 150 fish between us in the couple of days we fished it.  To top it off, 90% of those fish were caught on dries even though we were fishing in the middle of a blizzard.

Another 18″+  Brook Trout

This is Supposed to be the Start of Summer?

Since Henry’s Lake was fairly unproductive from the banks, we decided to end our trip early and headed home.  The Henry’s Fork is really starting to turn on so we have been fishing it a little more lately.  The last couple of trips provided some great dry fly action for big trout.

Josh With a Good Brown on the Henry’s Fork

A Golden Stonefly

Chris With Lower Henry’s Fork Rainbow

Another Lower Henry’s Fork Bow

As much as I love fishing the Henry’s Fork, I am ready for a change of scenery.  I am hoping to get out a couple days this week in search of some big carp.  Nothing puts a bend in a fly rod like a monster carp can!