For the past year, CW and I have been planning our first trip to Beaver Island Michigan with Guide, Kevin Morlock from Indigo Guide Services (insert shameless plug here). We left Pittsburgh and traveled west to our first stop which was the Huron River in Ypsilanti for a quick stop in to see the good folks at Schultz Outfitters. The berry hatch was starting, but the river was pretty well blown to hell so we decided after a few hours to make a push up to Traverse City.
We had planned to fish Grand Traverse Bay on our own for a few days prior to catching the Ferry to Beaver Island. The scenery and the water was nothing short of spectacular, but the fishing was pretty much a bust. Apparently a large contingency of bow hunters have really put a damper on the carp fishery there. (people suck if you haven’t figured that out yet) In addition, The Blue Angels were screaming over the bay prepping for The Cherry Festival which basically put down every carp in the county. Big shout out to the guys at The Northern Angler who gave us some great intel about the bay and put us on some very cool spots to chase fish.
After catching the early ferry over to Beaver Island, we were starting to feel the pressure since we had been riding a 3 plus day carp skunk….. Fear not…..
Despite getting some good light, a bunch of uncooperative fish and some blown shots later, we were still “carpless”. We decided to see if we could find some players in a back bay and with some stealthy stalking in place and a well timed eat, all hell broke loose.
After shaking the rust of day 1 off, day two was much more productive. Put it on the dinner plate, solid eat, crazy run around a tree stump, and the boat shot was complete.
CW managed one as well minus the crazy tree stump dance!
After a farewell to Beaver Island and Kevin, we hauled ass back to Ypsilanti in hopes of getting some better berry action and that we did! The takes were insane and there is nothing more crazy than doing battle with a big fish in a swift river full of logs and obstructions!
If you’ve been at the carp game for any amount of time, you know that some days they make you look like a hero and others they make you look like a chump. We had our equal share of both but there is nothing finer than spending a week on the road with a good friend chasing fish on a fly, eating good food, learning from an outstanding guide…. And yeah…. CARP SLAM! If we are being technical, the slam wasn’t completed in a single day so maybe it’s not a legit carp slam after all? ;). Something to chase for next time!
Tight Lines and Loose Pants,
So after three different friends sent me this link I figured it was a sign that someone had to post it so it might as well be me. Fair warning, this is NSFW! That means NOT SAFE FOR WORK… or kids… or spouses…. or jealous carp.
I mean seriously, I love carp. You know I do. And I’m not afraid to admit I have watched a little porn in my day. But can’t honestly say the thought ever crossed even my twisted mind to combine the two. It takes a lot to render me basically speechless but yep… Just don’t know what to say.
And just for the record… NO, I didn’t buy it… yet.
Tight Lines and Not so Loose Pants,
So many of you might be in total trout, steelhead, or musky mode so leave it to CW and me to still be talking all things carp! (OK, I was fishing for chrome yesterday too but don’t tell anyone) We will be speaking at the Orvis Pittsburgh store on Saturday from 3:00pm – 5:00pm. We will be talking carp behavior, tactics, gear, flies, etc….. Look forward to seeing you all there.
Tight Lines and Loose Pants,
CW and I just got back from our annual trip to Presque Isle Bay on Lake Erie. To say the trip was anything short of epic was an understatement. Despite cold water temps and a crowded lake, we managed to carve out a bunch of sweet fish, cool takes, and even scratched a few things off the bucket list! I will do a full write up on the weekend shortly but here is a video with some of the highlights.
Tight Lines and Loose Pants,
Kerplunk!!! Kerplunk!!! If I didn’t know any better I would have thought I was standing in the middle of a faux water hazard at a city park driving range…. golf balls making pronounced splashes as they descended into the water with force. (9.8 meters per second squared for all you physics buffs)
Thankfully, I was not on a driving range but rather a beautiful Michigan river watching golf ball sized berries plunk the water at 9.8 as 10-15 lb river carp gobbled them up as they bobbed in the current. As luck and poor planning would have it, I did not have any mulberry flies so I made do with what I had. I found some pink over sized egg patterns and drowned the suckers in floatant and plunked them down hard!
With only an hour to fish I was extremely luck that the good folks at Schultz Outfitters (www.schultzoutfitters.com) put me on some great spots in a hurry. I could see the storm clouds beginning to roll in and knew I was on the clock. The water was a bit high and moving quickly so getting a good drift was a challenge but after toying around with a few different angles a pair of yellow purple stained lips broke the surface and it was on. Hook set… came tight…. and off to the races. Before I could blink a good sized carp was in the fast current and the line was zipping off of my reel. She was heading straight for a huge brush pile and I knew I was in trouble. As I tried to chase her down I knew it was over. I put the wood to her and tried to turn her but between the girthy fish and the fast current the only thing I felt was my 3x popping as I grinned knowing that round 1 went to the fish.
I tied on a new fly and plunked it down under the tree. Mend.. mend… mend… bang! This time the fat fish bolted for open water and downstream. I chased her down and side pressured her into some slack water and I knew I had the advantage at that point. Five minutes later I was bank side with my prize. For a fish that I chase on the bottom 95% of the time, seeing them eat on the top for berries or cottonwood just lights me up.
After releasing the fish, I could hear the the thunder heads getting closer and as I peered over the trees, things went black. I high tailed it to the car as a the lightning began and stripped my waders off as the hail stones bounced around me. Needless to say, I grinned the whole way home!
Carping is no longer the other white meat. You don’t carp fish to prep for a bonefish trip…. you bonefish to prep for carping. If you are not ready for the coming carpocalypse you might want to go out and purchase a reel with a respectable drag, check your backing, put on a stripping guard, and go tell all the dudes you hang with at TU that you just followed Darth Vader to the dark side.
Finally got some time this weekend to put the video together from our Presque Isle trip last month. We got pelted with rain for three days straight so not nearly as much footage as I was hoping for. This trip was a clinic in having to earn your fish. After chucking a 9 weight with a sinking line into the wind for three days I thought I was going to need shoulder surgery. All well worth it in the end!
Enjoy, Tight Lines,
If there is one thing I have learned in quite a few years of fishing it is the value of being flexible and versatile in my approach. This week we made our annual trip up to Erie for our warm water extravaganza. I had sight fishing for carp on my mind and chasing smallies off of drop offs and weed beds in my dreams. Unfortunately, the water wasn’t very warm and after being pelted by rain and wind for three solid days, neither were we. As if that wasn’t enough of a challenge from old mother nature, she decided to throw in water that looked like black coffee (the moment your fly entered the water it literally disappeared) and a a shad kill that deposited thousands of dead rotting shad all over the bay.
So CW, Ray (CW’s dad), and I did what any self respecting fly fisher would do… we beat water till we figured out ways to make it happen. I can attest to this because after blind casting an 8 and 9 wt rod a few thousand times I may need to invest in a new shoulder! All kidding aside though, It made for some really challenging and interesting fishing.
By all accounts the smallies just were not in quite yet (not in large numbers anyhow) but we did manage to pick off a few here and there. For me the venerable black wooly bugger was my go to fly with dark skies and dark water.
CW seemed to have some good luck with brown sculpins as well but the action was far from prolific as we had to work pretty darn hard for our fish.
The above picture was a 2 hour window that saw the only blue sky or sun of the entire trip. The other major frustration was that I lugged all of my camera gear up with me intending to shoot a bunch with my digital SLR but the weather kept it in the car… thank goodness for my beloved iPhone! So outside of trout and steelhead, Ray is more of a conventional gear guy and he took us to town on the first day and a half throwing plugs and picking off fish much faster than we were as he covered twice as much water in half the amount of time. Not only did he pick up some really nice bass but landed the only pike of the trip as well.
Mr Bucketmouth is always welcome a the end of my fly line. I can’t even tell you how many trips this fish has saved from a major skunking. It seems when nothing else is cooperating you can always get a few hungry bass to chase. This particular fish was so hungry that after eating the bugger it attempted to swallow a very very small fly fisher along with it.
I have seen a few fish kills in my life but I have to say, this was truly one of the biggest I have seen. The smell at times was unbearable and it was rather unsightly to boot. The shad would be swimming in brain dead circles on top of the water until they died and then they would belly up till they washed up on shore…. It looked a bit like this….
I am not sure if they intend to attempt a clean up or if decomposition will just have to take it’s course? If it is the latter it will make for one really stinky spring season on the bay.
One of the cooler experiences I had was on the last day. Ray had taken off for home and CW and I tried to figure out a strategy to finish out the afternoon. We found a bay that had a bit of shelter to it so we gave it a go. We ran into a few other fly fishers in the lot and all seemed to have the same idea. Luckily there was plenty of water for everyone to spread out and do their thing.
After fishing through some decent weather, a major (I do mean major) front moved in. The thunder could be heard rolling across the bay like it was in your own head. As the front moved through I managed to capture this moment as the skies turned black.
We decided to do what any well read, college educated, fly fishers would do… we stood out in a raging thunder storm in an open bay waving long graphite sticks in the air. After calling CW out for being a woos for not posting a few weeks ago I have to say he did redeem himself. We fished hard and fought the good fight but most importantly had a tremendously cool time doing so. There was something very cathartic about fishing the storm. It was like it washed away a layer of crap that life heaps on you and leaves you almost fresh again. Was it smart? Not so much. Would I do it again? Yep 🙂
My rewards were multiple. Any time I give a talk I always tell folks that carp fishing is a sight fishing game and that if I have to blind cast for them I will fish for another species. I still stand by that but after seeing the 30plus pound carp washed up on shore I couldn’t resist. I couldn’t see individual fish but I knew they were working out in front of me by the occasional leap and the muted muds through the stained water. I put a sculpin on my intermediate line and started dredging it ever so slowly fan casting across the flat. My line came tight and it was on. She didn’t put on a blazing run but bull dogged me back and forth for a while before I could back up and bring her to shore.
Fishing out the storm was a blast and hanging with CW and getting a chance to reconnect was the icing on the cake. I would be remiss if I didn’t throw a major shout out to Mrs. Brownliner. She doesn’t read this blog (doesn’t get the whole fishing thing) but while I chased fish, drank good beer, and yukked it up with my buddy, she was at home chasing two 19 month old kids around and covering for me.
If you haven’t got together with your fishing buddy in a while, take the time out to do so. Plan a trip! Even if it is just for a day. Go somewhere cool and have a story to tell when you get home!
Good Luck and Tight Lines
It’s not often that I get to bust CW’s balls because more often than not the sneaky bastard out fishes me. So we had made plans to meet up on the creek for a few hours on Sunday morning while the kids were at school. I drop them off and am on my way when I get this….
I was totally chomping at the bit to get on the water so I didn’t care if there was an ice storm going on, I was getting out there. It was 37 degrees and the water clarity wasn’t great but I could make out the outlines of some fish from an elevated position. Not too long after this exchange it continued something like this…
And of course like most fish, this one has a story. If you read the last post you know that I started tying up some of they hybrid flies that John and Trevor pioneered. I liked them but had in our typically very murky water it was super hard to see the fly compared to the high viz orange blood dot’s we typically throw so I decided to tinker. (don’t I always) The result I thought was pretty cool which is basically a hybrid with a high viz head so it was easier to see a take. I tied it in a couple of different versions to play with.
The first version I replaced the hackle with a bright orange puglisi dubbing brush. It sank a bit slower so I don’t recommend this for faster water. The second I tied traditionally but dubbed the head with some fire orange dubbing. It sank faster but you could see both pretty well.
I had cast to the lead and largest fish in the shoal but she passed it up. Truthfully I did not see her sister following behind make the take and before I knew it, my line came tight and it was game on. I was perched up on a ledge above the creek and had to work my way down stream to get in the water. As I was making my way down, she took off up stream. I looked down and I was already in my backing. As I jumped down into the cold creek waters, I started recovering line and something didn’t feel right. The familiar head shake had stopped and my line had no give in it. I was hung up. My heart sank as my first good fish of the season was gone. I began trudging upstream to to retrieve my fly. I could see the rock it was wrapped around and as I approached I saw my leader with a full turn around the rock and the carp still attached. I gave the line and upstream flip and the fight was on again.
By the time we pulled into an eddy to exchange pleasantries I was grinning at my good fortune.
Is there a lesson here? Hell I don’t know… It’s never too cold and never give up on a fish! So here endith the lesson…
Good Luck and Tight Lines!
Has anyone got a look at this yet? Definitely looks worth checking out!