Actually, I caught two and popped off another bigger fish cruising the shoreline, but none of that was on video so it may not have happened. For an island boy it was cold, which is why I’m wearing two hats… and several shirts. It could also explain my abnormally high voice on this film.
Normally I’m way more manly. Swear.
So it’s hunting season and I am thinking about fishing. It never fails. I’m never satisfied. So while I’m sitting in the stand and looking deer I’m thinking about fishing.
The Fly Fishing Padre has a new fly fishing / hunting / beekeeping / etc blog for a New Year. His current project is building a drift boat for river smallies and still-water carp. I like this idea. It’ll definitely be a step up from the plastic tub we used this summer. I guess this is one of the benefits of freshwater fishing, you can simply sew up a boat on those long winter evenings and have a new craft ready to launch when spring rolls around. Whipping up a saltwater poling skiff: not so much. Anyways, tune in to see how the project fares.
It’s hot, really hot, and even hotter than that because the dark green “deck” of our plastic boat has absorbed the heat of the midday sun and is slowly baking us from underneath.
We could be wading a cool river (though they’re mostly dry this year). We could be tossing rubber spiders against the banks for panfish or smallmouth—whose stripes, coincidentally, are nearly the exact color of this plastic tub we’re on. We could be feeling the current tugging us gently downstream as we watch them jump and glitter in the glare. Instead we’re slowly dehydrating as we scan for dark fish-shapes cruising the muddy shallows or slices of bronze tails breaking the surface. The water level is now at least four feet below normal, with much of the shallow flats on the north end of the lake completely dry, and the water, somehow, is muddier than usual. I say lake but my fishing partner—a stickler for accuracy (as much for everyday nomenclature as he is for everyone else’ casting)—well, he says it’s a pond.
“Look, this is artificial, man-made, therefore it’s a pond—you know from the word ‘pound’, as in ‘impoundment’”.
Riiiight. Whatever. Who cares that with so little water it does look more like a glorified mud-puddle—did I mention it’s been a dry summer—the place is thick with fish. They’re everywhere. Nine o’clock, two o’clock, even directly behind us at six o’clock. There are even those we don’t notice until we drift over them, the mud clouds like smoke signals silently announcing their departure. Simply put, we are surrounded by carp. After wanting to fish these creatures for years we have finally “figured” them out… mostly, sort of, a little.
There are those who say carp are easy, but my friends and I who fish them here, in central Indiana, find them to be rather challenging, and by challenging I mean infuriating. Either they’re blind—although any creature would be hard put to see anything in the muck they paddle through—or they’re so picky as to border on being neurotic. (Perhaps they’re religious fish and regularly fast?)
Based on their size they must eat something, and lots of it. It is actually difficult to find small carp. I’ve seen plenty of six-inch smallmouth, but never a six-inch carp. Add 20 inches to that and you’d be in the ballpark of the fish that surround us. They make the pan fish and bass look like bugs that you swat off your hook.
That’s one of the most appealing things about carp: they’re big. A twelve-pound carp is common, a five-pounder barely worth reporting (except you will anyway since they’re so frustratingly hard to feed and you probably spent the better part of 20 minutes trying to get that bite, never once thinking, what the heck, it’s only a five-pounder.)
You also get a lot of shots and no one is ever fishing for them. Lots of shots is good, because their aforementioned infuriating apathy to flies means you need all those to get a bite. In a perverse way this is also one of the addicting things about carp fishing, but you still need to know that they could bite. For that to happen you need to catch one now and then, or at least watch your buddy do so. In the end it’s sight fishing on a hot summer day to fish that more than likely will not take your offering for whatever reason. I know I could be catching fish somewhere else; I know this is pretty much a ridiculous waste of time, but for those exact reasons, strangely enough, carp will continue to have this and my future summers.
Fly Fishing Padre
My leader looks a bit gnarly: 5x tied directly to 3x. The connecting knot does not help the look of the thing. My blue shirt has a large dark spot on the front where the cap of a floatant bottle somehow unscrewed itself and screwed me. I wonder if this now makes my shirt a flotation device. My felt hat has a feather from my first turkey – a feather that once was straight and true but now resembles a cat’s toy.
I have just finished two masses and delivered a homily that I’ve been praying and working over since last Sunday. The summer day has been boiling and the un-air condition churches seem like an oven under all the layers that a priest wears. This is the second week at these new parishes and I have been surrounded by Germans. My people, but returning to country Germans after being in a city surrounded by Irishmen, it’s a bit of a jarring experience. Stoic faces seem to glare back at me as I attempt to put meaningful thoughts into words about the readings and Gospel of the day. The glances leave me wondering if I have presented my Lord well to the Good people of this farmland.
I wandered back to the rectory – a tall red brick building located next to the red brick church, both over a hundred years old. Across the way is a small pond that I looked at last week but did not test, but instead chose to have a drink and smoke with a local priest friend at his rectory.
This week is different. The thirsty fields have gotten their fill of rain today, with a little hail thrown in for good measure. The small storms are past and all that is left is a cooler evening and damp grass. I string up the rod and tie on a fly that I made last Sunday and make my way to the pond. Aside from a couple of patches, it is clear of moss and the insects are stirring on the surface. A turtle pops its head out of the deep brown water only to recoil and flee the moment it sees me.
Two good ol’boys were here earlier with their can of worms and ugly sticks. They didn’t seem to do well and my expectations are low. My first cast is good for not having touched the rod in well over a month… now that I come to think of it, almost two months. This is really the first chance to fish since it got warm; life has been everywhere but anywhere these past months. I am still surprised that no takes were had on the first retrieve and the second is the same. On the third cast I let the fly sit and I see a small black mass that resembles a blue gill come to inspect it as it dangles between two worlds. Then there is a small thhhhmp. The line goes straight then limp. It happened so quickly I had no time to react; a barely perceptible take that somehow reminds me of the people I am here to serve.
~ Fly Fishing Padre
“Flatswalker’s Journal, March 2010. We descend into paradise to look for the Grey Fox, but we also find a wolf…”
Do it yourself (DIY) fly fishing leads to an unusual discovery for this small group of anglers at an undisclosed location in the Caribbean. Barracudas (the Wolf) are on the attack and bonefish (the Grey Fox) scatter everywhere. Nevermind, they leave that flat well alone and continue their search for bonefish on the flats… and they find some.