Head Hunting

Despite the warmer weather, fishing has been pretty decent for me.  As of late, I’ve become obsessed with catching big fish.  In fly fishing jargon, some would refer to this as “Head Hunting”.  I’m not out in search of every fish in the river, I’m looking for the biggest fish in the river.  I think I caught the bug in March when my friend Chris and I hooked into multiple monster bows on what could only be described as an epic day.  In my opinion, the best way to catch big fish is to throw fly patterns that imitate what made them so big…baitfish.  Big and heavy articulated streamers seem to do the trick just fine.  Since it has been so hot lately, I’ve been sticking to fishing before noon and then fishing the last couple hours of daylight.  So far it has produced great results.

First Hybrid of the Morning…Not a Bad Sized One Either

First Decent Hybrid of the Evening

Another Chunky Hybrid

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to go fishing with Brent from Uprising Flyfishing and my friend Chris who I fish with all the time. Our target, fatty mirrors from a reservoir chock full of them.  It didn’t take much time to starting seeing where the fish were.  It took a little bit longer to figure out how to get them to take.  I tried a few different things but settled on a little creation that I had tied up the night before.  I stood still for a while and eventually was surrounded by fat and happy feeding carp.  The only problem is that as soon as I hooked on, the rest were gone.  The fish are very wary right now and even the slightest misstep in your wading will spook them all away.  A hooked carp is a surefire way to spook the school away.  The fishing was “hot” by any means but having to work for fish made it well worth the effort.  Some times it is nice to be challenged harder than you’ve been in a long time.  This trip was definitely the hardest that I have ever had to work for a carp.  It wasn’t that they weren’t biting, it was that the takes were so subtle.  I couldn’t see any of the takes because the water was so dirty but it felt like the fish were just barely lipping the flies as they went by.  It was a huge contrast to just a couple months ago.  The fish would chase down your fly and hammer it hard.  Although they are harder to entice this time of year, it is well worth the effort.  The fish are very healthy and even the smaller fish will give you a run for your money.  We weren’t able to land any monsters on this outing but it was still a great time.  Thanks again Brent for driving and showing us a phenomenal flat.

Chunky Mirror

Quite the Belly on This Guy

My First Carp of the Day

Brent With One of the Many he Caught

An Eery Sunset

Friday was a pretty busy day for me but I was able to get out for a couple hours in the evening.  The weather wasn’t the most ideal.  Smoke was constantly blowing in and out and it looked a little eery outside.  The wind was blowing pretty good and a cold front was moving in.  Throwing big flies in the wind is when the “Chuck and Duck” technique becomes necessary.  A whack in the back of head helps you learn this one real fast.  I planned on starting off swinging and stripping streamers and as the sun went down switching over to a mouse.  The first hour or so was pretty slow going.  I hit my usual spots with no success at all.  Not even a bump from smaller fish.  I worked my way up to a spot that I lost one heck of a trout earlier in the week.  While working my way up I hooked a couple of little guys but not the big guy I was in search of.  My first couple of casts produced nothing but I knew a fish was there so I continued working the hole.  Right as the fly landed I felt a hard smack and the fish rocketed right out of the water.  I immediately knew it was a nice fish and was surprised at the jump.  In my experience, most large trout will dive down as hard as they can.  Next thing I know the fish has ripped out a bunch of line and is shooting right for the shallow water.  This would generally be a good thing but when you’re trailing another big streamer behind your lead fly, it can quickly turn into a nightmare.  The trailer fly can hook up on rocks and next thing you know the fish is gone.  Knowing this, I really started horsing the fish back into the deeper water until I could tire it out enough to net it.  It made a couple more runs for the shallow water but I eventually brought it to the net and came out victorious.  I  balanced my camera on my backpack and set the self timer.  Snapped a few pics and the fish was back in the river to be caught another day.

Patience Paid Off Again

At this point in time my happy bucket was pretty full.  I had accomplished the goal that I had went out to do and was ready to call it a day.  I decided to throw a mouse on and fish it for a few minutes just for fun.  I had a little foot long cutt explode on it but in its excitement, the little guy completely missed the fly.  By this point in time I was getting pretty cold and decided to call it a day.  Although things started a little slow, that is often how it goes when throwing streamers.  When it comes down to it, I now fish for quality rather than quantity.  Sometimes that means long periods of time without a single hit or fish.  In the end, the reward of a trophy fish makes the waiting 100% worth it.

Spread the love!

Hey guys I have just entered a carp fishing photo contest and need your help!.  If you follow my blog, you will recognize the picture from a post earlier in the year.  Just in case, I’ll post it again.

If you have a Facebook account, please go to this page and “Like” my photo.  Here is the link http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=352246958178688&set=a.348896558513728.71235.101549669915086&type=1  If you would like, you could even share it on your own Facebook wall.  Thanks again!

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.