Pursuing the Golden Bonefish (Carp)

     A couple weeks ago while lazily scrolling through google images at work, I came across a photo of a carp that was caught on a fly.  At first I really didn't think anything of it, at first.  What has followed is quickly becoming an obsession of Moby Dick type proportions.  I am a musky fisherman by nature.  I chase real fish, game fish, the hardest freshwater fish you can chase.  Or at least I thought they were, until I tried to catch a carp on purpose with a fly rod.

     My first attempts were laughable at best.  I went out to known spots throughout Madison and chucked flies at carp.  They bolted or at least some did, most appeared to mock me as I got my line stuck in the trees, in the bushes, and around my feet.  I needed some help, so off I went to Orvis of Madison.  They gave me some fly recommendations and sold me a book called Carp on the Fly.  This book is more or less the bible of fly carping.  The first correalation the book made was that fly fishing for carp was the closest thing to saltwater fishing you can do in freshwater.  It described these fish as finicky, cautious, and smart?  It told me I had to stalk this fish like a hunter.  It even had photos of guys casting on there knees behind bushes along the shoreline.  It also said that they had limited vision and that the fly had to be cast within inches of their head.  To land a fly that close I was gonna need a lot more practice catching things with a flyrod.  So off I went to my favorite residential pond to chase some bass, since they are always biting.  Now that I felt a bit more confident in my casting ability and had landed a bunch of bass on the fly, I thought surely I must be ready to catch a carp. 
Not sure why the fly guys put the rod in their mouths, but I'm game.
      Fast forward a few days and once again I find myself in a fairly busy urban park in downtown Madison.  This park has a nice series of ponds.  The only issue is it's a little weedy.  Lot's of lily pads and pond scum with a few downed trees and snags thrown in for good measure.  Not the ideal place to try and cast a fly, but I know their are carp in the ponds.
A little weedy, here and there.
     As I worked my way around the pond scanning the water, I saw them.  Two carp feeding near the surface just off the far edge of the weed bed.

     I quickly ducked down behind the reeds and waited to see if they would move in a little closer.  A few minutes passed and I prepared my cast.  It was a perfect cast, the line flowed through the air and the fly landed quietly right next to the larger of the 2 carp.  I let it settle and gave it one short strip of line...then I felt it, the carp had the fly!  Now I should be showing you a picture of a nice fat carp, but that isn't exactly what happened.  I strip set the hook and at that point all hell broke loose.  The fish took off like a bullet when it felt the hook pierce the flesh of its mouth.  I laid the rod over to the right to keep tension on the fish as it charged across the pond.  Then I felt a strange sensation to suddenly lift my right foot.  That's right, I was caught in my fly line.  What happened next is kind of a blur, but it went something like this.  The fish ran to the left, the line suddenly stopped (as it was wrapped around my foot), then my rod swung violently to left under tension hitting by arm, then BANG!!!  Everything went slack...
Rod broke right at the joint, I let out a series of swear words at this point.
     The rod broke and it was my fault.  Normally I don't mind when gear fails, but when it fails because of something stupid I did, I end up a little angry.  I gathered up my kids and left the park mad, but determined.  I knew I had another rod at home that would work and I would be back in a few days to try again.
     My next trip out saw me once again stalking carp in a small pond nestled in  some random characterless suburb.  I love these kind of ponds because nobody fishes them.  I had found this pond using google earth and after a few scouting trips I had determined that it held some nice sized carp.  I worked my way around the pond looking for tailing fish (think redfish).  When I saw them, I settled in behind some cattails and made my cast.  It was a horrible cast and it got stuck in the weeds.  I started to strip the line in an attempt to free the carp tickler fly when I heard a loud CRACK!  You guessed it, the rod broke!!!  I still have no idea why this rod broke.  Only thing I can think of that since this rod was extremely cheap and old it was probably on its way out anyways.  It just sucks that it broke 10 minutes into my outing.  My son had wandered over to see how my fishing was going and I informed him that I was quickly starting to hate carp.  He laughed and asked to take my picture, we had a little fun with it.
2 broke rods in 3 days, not my week I guess.
     So this how my pursuit of these crafty fish is currently going.  I have determined that these fish are harder to catch than muskies.  Muskies are hard to catch because they are few and far between, and being the top predator they can be choosy about what they want to eat.  Carp on the other hand are everywhere.  They are smart, spook easily, and seem to have the ability to warn their fellow fish of danger.  Once the carp runs, so does everything else in the pond.  I decided that I was gonna give up till next spring.  This was getting expensive and I can chase other fish locally that were much easier to catch.  At least that was the plan until I went into Gander Mountain...
Don't judge me...it was on sale.
     Tight Lines.

65th Anniversary of the Musky World Record

     So today marked the 65th anniversary of the world record musky being caught.  Who caught the world record?  Louie Spray? nope, the world record musky as recorded by the IGFA was caught by Cal Johnson on July 24th 1949.  The record still stands today 65 years later and is one of the most sought after and coveted of all the IGFA's world records.  This was and still is to this day the recognized world record musky.  It was originally certified by the old Field Stream freshwater record committee and transferred to the IGFA when they took over the freshwater records in 1978.  Having all the freshwater and saltwater records under one organization helped to insure honest and accurate records.
     This musky was caught on Lake Court Oreilles located in Hayward Wisconsin.  They were row trolling a wooden Pike Oereno lure and when the big girl hooked up it took almost an hour for Cal to be able to land it.  So how big is the world record?  A staggering 67lbs. 8 oz. a trophy even by today's standards.
    Although this fish like all of the old record fish courts it's fair share of controversy, it is still the only recognized world record musky.  An amazing fish with an amazing history.  To find out more about this record or many other recognized species records go to www.igfa.org.  Consider becoming a member and show your support for responsible, ethical angling.
     Tight Lines.

Orvis Tippet Spool Holder

     The other day I stopped off at the Orvis store.  I always enjoy going in there, since the staff is friendly and knowledgeable.  We were discussing what was going on fishing wise around Madison when I mentioned my Spiderwire backpack.  I told them that while I enjoy using the bag it has a tendency to kind of eat smaller items.  I am constantly digging through it looking for my tippet material while fly fishing.  Bret the manager mentioned that I would benefit from the use of a tippet spool holder.  After discussing different options they had in stock I settled on the stand alone model.
     This tippet spool holder holds up to 7 spools of tippet material.  Which is nice if your the type of person that chases multiple species of fish with only one or two rods.  It attaches with a carbine clip to a D ring on your vest or backpack or just clip it onto your pants belt loop.  At the other end is a second clip to attach the tool of your choice (scissors, nipper, floatant, forceps, etc).
     While out testing it today I must say I am happy with it's performance.  I got my leader snagged in the trees a few times (I am still learning).  Having this little gadget made finding the tippet spools and mending my leader a snap.  I also liked not having to dig through my bag or pockets to find my forceps.  All in all I would recommend it to anyone looking for a convenient way to carry multiple spools of tippet material, rather stand alone or as an attachment to an existing tackle bag.

     Tight Lines.

Rod Tip Replacement

Rod Tip Kit, Lighter, Rod Tip Missing it's insert.
     As shorebased anglers our gear really takes a beating.  Our gear rarely just sits in a boat.  Normally it's loaded into vehicles, ducked under trees, and dropped on the rocks (always on accident).  Factor in letting people borrow gear when they need it or the use and abuse from clients while guiding and I know my rods wear out fast.
     So Tuesday while wading under a bridge that has been closed due to construction all summer, I knocked another rod tip insert out of my snakehead rod.  Rod tip inserts are important since they are in constant contact with the line.  They protect your fishing line by keeping it off the rod, reducing line friction (especially important with braid), and the smooth surface of the inserts enhance casting distance.  So let's go over the steps required to get that rod back into service.
     First step is to heat up the old rod tip.  The glue is temperature sensitive so by heating up the rod tip it will slide free of the rod blank.
Careful the rod tip gets hot.
     Once you have the old rod tip removed take a little sandpaper and clean up the rod blank.  Then you need to heat up the glue stick.  You only need to heat it up for 3-4 seconds, it doesn't take long!
The rod glue melts quickly and you don't want to burn it.
     Final step is to apply rod glue to the rod blank and install the new tip.  You need to complete this step with a fair sense of urgency.  The rod glue will cool fast so you need to get the replacement tip on and lined up quickly.
Apply only as much as you need.  No need to over do it.
     Well that about does it, the whole thing takes about 5 minutes from start to finish.  After the glue cools it will set up just as strong as the original.  I also like to add a little clear nail polish when I replace a tip on a glossy rod (it helps with aesthetics).  With the new rod tip installed your line is safe again and your rod should perform flawlessly. 
Let's Go Fishing!
     Tight Lines.

New Flies

     So as some of you know I have recently picked up a fly rod in an attempt to broaden my horizons as an angler.  I am always trying to learn new fishing techniques and put them to use in pursuit of the fish I love.  The stories of my struggles to figure fly fishing out are humorous, but I will save those stories for another time, for now just a quick inventory of whats new in the Orvis Large Boat Box.

  1. San Juan Worm
  2. Jan's Carp Tickler
  3. Hise's Carp Nasty
  4. Mouse Rat
  5. Foam Bass Popper
  6. Dahlberg Diver
  7. Hair Bass Bug
  8. Conehead Bunny Muddler
  9. Egg Fly
     As of right now I am only in pursuit of carp and bass.  Mainly because bass are easy to catch, and carp since they are the closest thing to a saltwater fight that you can get in freshwater.  And as my wife is so quick to remind me, my budget doesn't allow me to own multiple fly rods at this time so the pike and muskies are just gonna have to wait.

          Tight Lines.