Friday, September 25, 2015

Skinny water Carp'n on the "Glass Flats"

Sight fishing grass carp on the "Glass Flats" has got to be one of my favorite ways to fish.  Not familiar with the term.  It's the shallow flats when they are as smooth as glass = "Glass Flats".

Beautiful coloring so I took it out of the water for a quick picture.  Nothing else taken from the water today.

That situation doesn't happen very often.  Weather being the number one factor.  The area I'm speaking about needs no wind b/c it has no protection.  The water is not much more than 15"s deep.  The grass carp are on high alert in such shallow water.  They can't ghost out in the murky depths so they run like wild horses.  All these factors make this the ultimate challenge in my opinion.  It's a kayak fly anglers dream.  When I checked the weather/wind forecast for today.  I knew I was going to be in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon mode on the "Glass Flats".  Pictures to tell the rest of the story...

Pinched the barb and released everything beside the kayak

Skinny water - paddle deep

Love when I see them tailing 

When you suck and it all goes wrong...get'n gone fast

More tailing

Not as many fish caught in the skinny water but that's the nature of the "Glass Flat".

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"Big Tail"

Seems like everywhere I look I see carp.  That probably has more to do with school being back in session, which means my weekday trips must stay local.  In the past I have gone back and forth between carp and bass.  But I haven't gotten bass brain yet.

But this post isn't going to be about all the carp I caught.  Yes the fishing was great and I have plenty of pictures for you to eye fondle.  Instead, I'm going to share the "Big Tail" experience.

The "Big Tail" was a large grass carp I spotted from about 50 yards away.  I was stalking a shallow flat full of 2-3 foot grassers.  I looked up and saw an enormous tail sticking out of the water.  It was surly attached to a diesel submarine.  My mind focused on the area and I pondered how I would get to that fish without spooking it....

The problem was it was surrounded by an early warning system.  The area I had to cross was littered with small carp.  I knew spooking one would send an array of torpedoes directly at my target.  There wasn't another route to consider.  He was the admiral and had set up shop in the middle of the school.  I had to cross the gauntlet and hope I was stealthy enough to get close.  I set out in slow motion trying to pass without being noticed.

That lasted about 10 feet, and the water erupted around me.  Sure enough the torpedoes were set in motion and heading straight for my objective.

When I finally arrived, "Big Tail" wasn't around.  The area was empty.  I stayed put for a second.  I've had some success waiting out carp that I didn't spook directly.  The ones that spot you and freak out are gone.  But occasionally, the grassers that don't locate a threat will settle and get back to life as normal.

Sure enough, after a few minutes I saw a huge shadow creeping back towards me.  Its course had it coming directly at me.  I waited and set the fly in motion just as "Big Tail" reached that uncomfortable area between "I suck casting that far" and "damn he's too close".  It laid down about 8 inches from the nose.  He noticed...paused...started to rise, and then it ate!  I set and everything around me started moving in high speed.  The carp was pulling me and 12ft of floating plastic through the water with ease.  If I hadn't been in a kayak, he would have put me in the backing.  We played tug-o-war for a few minutes before I was able to get the kayak beached and bring "Big Tail" to hand.  No hero shots, no way to hold it up and take a picture.  But you can get a good idea how big it was from the pictures below:

last 4 feet of a 12 foot kayak

To get an idea of the girth.  I was standing in just below calf deep water.  I released the carp and it slithered away....its belly was dragging across the bottom.  That was the last fish for me.  I followed "Big Tail" for nearly 50 yds as we both kept a close eye on the other guy.  


Monday, September 21, 2015

Weird day on the river (LRR)

Saturday was a family day but I found a minute to make my way over to the Ozark Angler (OA) in Little Rock.  I intended to only buy some tying material in preparation for a fishing trip planned in Oct.  But as I entered the store I remembered I like fishing more than tying.  Walked past the materials and straight to the rod case.  Stopped in front of the Orvis Clearwater 6wt...but I was only looking.  I don't have money for a new fly rod so there's no risk in just looking, right?

You can guess what happened next.  I explained the money situation (lack of it).  They understood and explained they have this machine just for people like me.  It takes plastic and turns it into money, as soon as the bank gives them the cash from your account.  From what I can tell those credit card machines are nearly perfect.  If only they didn't also create proof of the transgression, now I have "some splainin to do"!  Meet the proud new owner of a Clearwater 6 wt and debt.  Hi, I'm Drew, and I have an addiction.  You say, nice to meet you Drew...b/c you're at the meeting.

1st fish on the 6wt ate a streamer
Seriously, I borrowed my buddies for a month at the beginning of this year.  Took it out several times on the Little Red.  I'm not quick to spend money but since I wasn't spending any real money...just plastic...figured I'd add to the armory.  

From Jan.  Borrowed CW but should have borrowed a net...lost mine in the river that day and later found it...weird  
Can't speak highly enough about the actual experience.  OA didn't have all the components for the actual combo.  So after explaining my plan of replacing the reel on my 5wt, lining the spare spools,  (3) with the 6 wt...effectively using 1 reel for both the encounter and the clearwater (1-WF6F, 2-sink tip for both, 3-WF8F), basically making it as complicated as I could.  I ended up with the Access Mid Arbor and Hydros WF6F all for the regular price of the original Clearwater.  They lined all my reels and b/c I wasn't happy enough gave me a free hat.  Awesome!  Now I have a spare reel waiting for that new 3 wt I plan to buy next year.  That explanation was really for my wife who, at times, doesn't understand the "words coming out of my mouth"....maybe she'll read the blog for the 2nd time ever and all will be good.  Wishful thinking.  Time to get fishy...

New Access on my TFO

It was a weird day.  That's the best way to describe it.  It started when a car pulled into the dark and empty parking lot at 3:30 am.  I positioned myself on the passenger side of my truck...keeping the truck between me and whoever was stopped on the other side.  And then I slowly moved off into the darkness of the trees.  Then a person started calling out for, "the guy behind the truck" and flashing their spot light around the area.  When I realized what was going on I re-emerged and asked him not to shot me, explaining I had just bought a new fly rod and my wife would "literally" kill me if I had to replace these waders.  After a short conversation (remember I was wearing waders and there was a 12 ft kayak sitting halfway off the truck rack).  I thanked him for stopping and checking the parking lot.  Great to know he's in the area!

On the water at 4:30 am slinging the 6 wt with something black attached to the end.  Must have appeared to be some sort of fish eating bacteria b/c nothing wanted to touch that streamer.  No problem, I start early so I can get to those spots that the boaters will beat me to if I wait until the sun is out.

Everything was going as planned.  Get to a good spot and waded out.  I notice the little birds don't have any place to live.  I do my best to build them a nest with my leader, strike indicator, and 3 fly set-up.  As I'm working on the finishing touches to their new home.  I hear a boat coming up behind me.  It's carrying 2 men and judging by their appearance they look like they know what they are doing.  I gave a wave and as expected they slowly pass behind me.  At this point I focus back on the building project expecting the sound of the jet to fade in the distance.  But the sound of the jet doesn't fade.  Rather, it's not moving away from me at all...and actually appeared to be getting closer.  Are these 2 guys anchoring 10 ft away?  Are they beaching and wading?  Decided I better check on them.  Just about that time I hear a voice and the words, "look out, my jets clogged with moss".  Your what is who?

As a kayaker, I've thought about getting run over in my kayak.  It's always a possibility.  I have never considered it might happen while I was wadding.  The boat drifted back into me...a fully loaded boat and gear being carried down river by the current is a load to stop.  Technically I wasn't run over and no one was hurt, except they killed the shoal I had spent over an hour paddling to.  Initially I was annoyed, surprised!  Oddly, after talking with those guys I later laughed about it.  I saw them a few other times and they were always respectful, telling me which direction they were heading and always giving me plenty of space.

As expected the fishing wasn't great with the crowds and boat traffic.  But fish were caught and I enjoyed the day.  What I lacked in numbers they made up for in quality.  Beautiful fish that had been in the river a long time.  Plus I got the new car smell out of the 6 wt.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

4 days in the Driftless

The decision to go was easy.  Making it work was hard.  There were so many obstacles that tried to derail this trip, stuff at school, stuff at work, piles of stuff from all directions.  Every week I'd get it worked out only to have something else fail.  I was literally in St Louis at 9 pm (8 hrs drive time) when my wife called to tell me some water had just dripped from the ceiling into the living room.  Seriously!  

It was really tough but I found the strength and asked if she wanted me to come home.  We all know I was secretly hoping she'd say "no".  As luck would have it, she wanted me to go get the fishing out of my I kept driving and driving and driving.

That's when I noticed the lightening in the distance.  Oh C'mon...more stuff!  I checked the weather forecast, a Flash Flood watch was issued for the area.  It was 1 am and I had been driving for 12 hrs.  I could stop and rest or keep going.  Guess what I did?

I was about 3 hours away and my original plan was to sleep in the van for a few hours.  Finish the drive and fish in the afternoon.  But seeing the weather approaching, I decided to get there fast and fish as long as I could.  The luck I was having I figured the creeks would be blown out soon and the only fishing, if any, would be in the morning.

Wild rainbows are truly beautiful and full of fight.  see stocked below.

I downed another redbull, opened the windows, and jammed some Taylor was torture.  But anything with ears will run away from the sound of her voice, so the roads were empty of deer! **

I arrived around 4 am to nothing.  It was still and clear.  Maybe it was going to work out.  I rig up and decided to nap in the back seat.  That lasted about an hour...

I was sound asleep when I heard the booming echoing in the distance.  I was down in a ravine and couldn't see what was coming and I didn't have cell service.  So I just waited, and then all hell broke lose.  Rain, thunder, lightening...the wind was howling.

My hopes of fishing washed away with the rain.  I went back to sleep.  When I woke up again it was 8 am.  All was clear...I'm going in as long as the creek wasn't flashing!

Gave it a good looking over and it looked good.  And the fish must have appreciated that I was listening to Sublime and not blasting Taylor Swift over the speakers b/c they were everywhere.  That day started terrible but I didn't want it to end.

I was suppose to meet Kevin at the campground that afternoon but every time I started to walk out my feet went the wrong direction.  So I kept fishing.  I tried a few more times to walk out, but my feet wouldn't cooperate.

It was way past the time I should have left and getting close to you're an A-hole if you don't get to the campground soon so I headed out.  You know your with good company when they say, "why are you here...we didn't expect you till after dark".

We looked over the map and made a plan for the next morning.  Got up early and headed out to the "spot".  Made our way to the stream and found a good place to ambush our prey.  As luck would have it...2 other guys must have came in behind us and "dropped-in" on us...if you've ever surfed you know what that means and fights happen over it.  "Dropping in", is when a person sets up on a wave, paddles in and has the right of way.  But at the last moment another person cuts them off, or "drops-in" front of them.  That's what these guys did.  We had walked down the trail a little (20yds) to get behind some fish we saw rising.  We got into place and were coming back up when...there they were right where those risers were.  We moved on.

It ended up being a good day.  We had limited choices of water we could fish.  A few of the creeks were chocolate milk.  A few others had a crowd...

We pull up to an access and saw a truck parked.  We didn't want to encroach on anyone so I got out and went to ask if he was fishing or just sitting.  Now picture this, as I get closer I notice the driver is sharpening a big blade...the way chefs do in restaurants.  Then I notice he's wearing a shirt but it's unbuttoned.  I stop where I'm at and wave...watching the door very closely.  The guy waves with the ninja sword he's holding.

I say something, like...hey man, we were going to fish here but don't want to get into a fight with the last Samurai.  Are you fishing here?  He responds in a normal way, he was fishing, another guy did also, but we're welcome to give it a try.  Additionally he offers, that the stocking truck was going to be here soon.  That's what he was waiting on, while he sharpened his hunting knives.  Hunting knife...sure dude!

So we did what you do when you want to fish.  And just when we got to the water, we realized our mistake.  My attention was on the ninja warrior and I failed to account for the zombie stocking truck following.  Truck loads of people arrived and started moving to the creek.

Not complaining, they have every right to be there...just found it humerus and somewhat unsporting.  But not everyone who fishes does it for sport...some just want to feed their family.  I respect that.

It was a valuable lesson, check the stocking schedule before you decide on the water you'll fish.  There was So Much Water (see what I did there) to fish it was never an issue.  We moved several more times and each stop yielded fish.  Mostly browns for me.  Kevin found mostly rainbows.

The last 2 days went much like the first 2.  Lots of water visited and lots of fish caught.  My week of fishing went like this:

Mornings started with small streamers or drys.
Mid morning I was nymphing.
Afternoon with the winds and sun meant hoppers and terrestrials, with the occasional dropper.
Late afternoon - more nymphing and drys.

It was a great trip.  Looking forward to the next.  

**disclaimer - There is no actual research to support this statement, "anything with ears will run away from the sound of her voice".  More importantly, I would rather crash my car into a deer than listen to Taylor Swift.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

4 days in the "Driftless"

Just got back from 4 days in the "Driftless".    Here are a few pics from an awesome trip.  I'll share the full story soon.