On 07-24-2010 Fly Fishing For Carp by Colorado & New Mexico Fly Fishing Guide Rita Adams
Colorado & New Mexico Fly Fishing Guide Rita Adams
Carp: I wish I'd discovered them before they became all the rage to fish for; I hate to be trendy. It turns out they're worth it. Made entirely of muscle, these fish pack a punch, and can get as big as trash barrels. I've also found them to be very attune to their surroundings, and easily spooked. A difficult fish and a worthy challenge.
07/22/10 Today Mr. Ed and I spent the day exploring a pair of muddy, mosquito infested spring-fed ponds smack in the middle of the valley, targeting whatever swam in it. Turns out, Carp! I had never been there, but it had long beckoned to me from the map. A chunk of one of my favorite rivers runs through the lower portion, which is otherwise entirely private. It seemed too good to be true, and turns out it was. The river itself was a ghost of its upstream glory, having been diverted for irrigation purposes, and we didn't even try it. I wonder though, how long trout take to get in there when the water is prime.... It was actually a pretty nice spot, when the wind kept the mosquitoes at bay. There were a lot of water birds; several herons and some others I couldn't identify, and thousands of frogs. They cascaded off the banks as I walked along it. Back at the lakes, we saw wakes and swirls and tails and snouts. Carp. There were so many reeds among the wallowing fish that I wished I'd brought some flies with weed guards. As it was, I tried a big rubber legged dry and put a light and leggy little caddis nymph a short ways behind that. As always, now that I had flies ready to throw, the lake was deathly still. Nothing to cast to. The frogs are probably a good early warning system. I put the bugs on an open patch of water near where I'd seen the fish and let it sit, twitching occasionally while scanning the rest of the lake for fish. I was looking away when the first one hit, and I set instinctively. It would have been a perfect set for a trout, but too soon I think for the Carp. At any rate I didn't get him, and only saw a poof of mud as he spooked. The second fish I saw, he was maybe three pounds. The tip of his tail was sticking straight up out of the water; his snout was on the bottom. I threw at cautious distances at first, but he never spooked, or ate, and I ended up throwing the dry only just above his head. It took a few times to get it right, but he never bolted. The nymph sank to the depths right in front of where I suspected his face to be, and I twitched it. Almost at once the dry stopped. I waited a beat, then set, and had the fish on. He jumped once like a bass and was gone. Wicked dark clouds were booming in the south, and the wind was gusting from there with authority, so we retreated to the safety of gravel roads. Mesa clay is the slickest stuff I've ever seen when it gets wet, and I had only the day before submersed my cell phone, (a common occurrence with me) so no help there. In a perfect world, all electronics are waterproof.
From "Wild Rivers Camp" Fish. Big fish. Huge dark shadows wafting into view and then fading, ambling lazily through what seemed like pretty fast water. There must have been twenty of them at least. Two of them dwarfed all the rest. Of course they were all on the far side. You can cross the river here at low flows on a jumble of rocks, but these flows were borderline too high. There is one sketchy hop onto a shoe-sized patch of rock in the middle, and if that is wet, rubber soles turn it into ice. Felt soles are suicide on these rocks; studs too, though I've seen enough marks from the poor souls who've tried. At this flow, when the sun is on the rock, the top dries, but when it leaves, water wets it in short order. The light was gone, but the rock was still dry. We would have to work fast. That first night I stayed put and had a perfect view as JP scampered across like a kangaroo holding a fly rod. Show off. I use both hands and look like a troll with a fly rod in her teeth. He was fishing a Pat's rubber legs to a little caddis, and I watched him work the water well in the lowering light. He got one to go, and to bear witness to the battle was a thing of beauty. It was a heavy fish, (a Carp if you haven't already guessed) maybe seven pounds, it was a swift water section, and the fish was not going easily into that sweet good night. On several occasions he swung it close, only to have it charge away. Trash fish? I got my shot the next night. We decided to debut JP's grass flies, designed specifically for these fish. I dropped it behind a Pat's RL. I had a fourteen inch trout hit the RL on my first drift over the granddaddy Carp and shook him off with a tsk tsk before I could stop myself. We both had a good laugh over that. We'd been trying to catch them all day, but now trout just got in the way. After quite a few shots it all came together. I swung the grass fly in front of a fish who was sort of surfing water over a just submerged rock, and he exploded with indignation when the grass bit him back. Totally awesome.
From "Stoneflies on the Gunnison" We had lunch where the Smith Fork comes in. There were a bunch of Carp swimming around right at the mouth of the stream, one of which was huge,(15lbs). The guides were throwing bread and chicken at it. One of them remarked that Carp liked the color yellow, and I thought of a canary yellow streamer that JP had tied for me when we were first dating, and put it on. Where at first there had been several fish, now that I had a fly in the water, I could see none. I kept throwing it, letting it sink and inch its way slowly along the bottom. Then I saw the faint blue shadow of a fish. It was the big one. He was broadside to my fly and facing slightly away, gliding glacially along. I twitched the fly once and he turned. I twitched it again and I saw him pounce and suck with thick white lips. I set and he took off, everyone letting expletives fly. I cranked down my drag but it was all I could do to hold on and he was well into backing in seconds. I was able to gain on him a few times but it was clear we would have to chase him. So Ryan jumped on the oars and Matt grabbed a ridiculously small net and after him we went. When I finally managed to bring him close, my 6 weight was bent well beyond double and Matt was swinging madly with the net....one or two passes, and he was gone, sinking back without a whisper. In retrospect I know exactly how we should have landed this fish, and I don't know why it didn't occur to me then. Chasing the fish with the boat was all well and good, necessary, even, but we had to get on land ourselves to finally land him. Fish like that are simply too big to do anything but beach. So no photo, but one awesome memory.