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Posts Tagged ‘carp’

The other night was a rare opportunity in the realm of fly-fishing.  We were coming off of 3 days of stormy and windy weather and we got one of those bluebird evenings that come in the spring and make you pretty sure everything is right with the world.  There was virtually no wind, the sky was a color blue that would make a topaz self conscious, and it was in the mid 60’s.  This would be one of about 6 evenings like this all year here on the plains.  Naturally I was quite disappointed.  I had my rain coat already in the truck and I was ready for an entire evening of drippy droppy fishing.  The kind that gets you the water to yourself and the air full of hatching bugs.  Instead I was going to have this heavenly evening, which would ensure that the bug maternity ward would stand empty and that would fill my little spot with men on buckets flinging skewered worms to fish that weren’t interested.  So I did the only sensible thing that a person can do when they are disappointed…  I went fishing.  (See how I did that?  You like that?).

I left work late (no sense in hurrying on a day like this) and headed straight for the water.  The spot I was going to fish is about 5 miles on gravel off of the main road and is a nice 30 minute drive from work.  Just far enough to feel the tension leave and the thoughts of tasks unfinished settle into the spot in your brain they go to hibernate until the fishing is over.  Just long enough to get into the present and begin to actually see the things around me and enjoy the sights and sounds.  To see the world as it is rather than to see through it.  The drive is perfect for me.  As I turned onto that little gravel road I was just settling into the more attentive state of mind and I noticed a particularly large quantity of bug guts accumulating on my windshield.  Now I may be the only person in South Dakota that gets excited about seeing his windshield caked in the unearthly concrete that is a bug’s inner juices.  Hell the stuff could be used to plug the leaking oil well in the gulf, but when I get those guts as I follow this little road along the river I know that there is a fair chance that the bugs are coming from the water… and that means a hatch.

The road approaches this spot by a slow accession up an almost imperceptible incline, followed by a crest and view of the entire river valley and a screaming ride down what we called as kids a “roller-coaster hill” to the bottom where the parking area is.  You know the hill, the kind that as kids you would put your hands up in the car like you were on a roller-coaster and drive your parents mad by screaming weeeeee all the way to the bottom or until your breathe gave out, which ever came first.  To this day I get a kick out of these hills and this one serves 2 purposes.  It is just damn fun, for one, and it gives me a view of all of the water that I will potentially be fish that evening.  I was shocked to see that I would be all alone.

When I parked and caught by breathe from screaming weeee for the last quarter mile; I hopped out and strung up.  The bugs were everywhere.  Apparently there were a couple of hatches going on simultaneously.  One of large golden mayflies and one of smaller caddis.  They were so thick that I was worried I would inhale them if I were to breathe carelessly.  It was shaping up to be an unbelievable evening.  A cross-over hatch of 2 different species of bugs without the required sopping wet hat and cold fingers.  I was thrilled.

I approached the stream at a plunge pool and looked down to see that things were even better than I had thought.  The surface of the water was covered in bugs and beneath the surface were thousands of minnows looking like tiny underwater bomber squadrons; all moving in formation.  This was unbelievable.  There were flies everywhere, for the panfish, mooneye, carp and bass, and there were minnows by the millions for the walleye, pike, gar and well… everything else, the weather was unbelievably gorgeous AND I had the water to myself.  This was reaching once in a lifetime/lightening striking/win the lottery proportions. I was so excited I nearly wet my pants.

I started the way I always do, by sitting on the bank, lighting a cigarette, and watching the water to see where the fish are.  I saw positively nothing.  Not one fish grab a bug, not a splash or push or flip or flop or flash.  Nothing.  Ok fine, so nothing was eating the bugs… surely something was eating the minnows.  I work every inch of that stream at all depths with a few different patterns and I didn’t get so much as one hit.  Nothing.  I fished until sundown and then drove home.  I wouldn’t say I was satisfied, but I wasn’t distraught either.  I had the comfort of knowing that I had picked the right place, the weather change had brought the bugs and I had fished well if not successfully.  Every part of the evening that I could control I did as well as I can at this point in my flyfishing education.  If the fish were not there, or were dead, or asleep or possessed or had all gone vegetarian as part of the liberal movement… well I couldn’t control that and there is not a damn thing I could do to change it.  If you get too worked up about the effects of things beyond your command as a fly-fisherman, you are liable to go bonkers.  You have to understand that sometimes even the perfect situation can go sour for a reason you can’t affect or even detect.  It just is.

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Hog Carp

Examining the way certain species of fish are viewed by people and how that view changes from group to group is a very interesting study in group dynamics.   At our core, we are all fisherpeople, looking to somehow influence the behavior of a fish.   I was originally going to say that we were all looking to entice a fish to bite our hook and be drug onto shore, but I thought I might get the bowfishers and the pallid sturgeon snaggers offended.  They totally circumvent the whole “me fool fish” part of fishing and go straight to the fishhunting.  I was then going to say that we are all looking for a way to drag a fish out of water and into our hands, but I remembered the newly popular sport of hookless flyfishing.  These folks take the fooling of the fish as the ultimate goal and the enjoyment, for them, stops there.  For the rest of us fishing is something akin to being drug dealers.  We are trying to get the fish to put something into their bodies that they will ultimately regret.  Possibly we are more like tobacco companies.  At any rate, lets not get overly romantic about our place in this game.  We are not the fish’s friends anymore than a cat is a friend to the mouse that it plays with.  Ultimately, we want to catch the biggest of whatever fish we are after that we can, regardless of the fishes feelings on the subject.

The question is, what fish do we choose to fish for.  It seems that everyone has a view on what is the proper species of fish to pursue.  There is a loose connection between what the ultimate purpose of the fishing is and what species one pursues.  Sometimes this means that there is a connection between personal taste and the appropriate fish to catch.  I grew up in a town that sold Bullhead meat in the grocery stores.  Needless to say, there were people that would go out and specifically fish for bullhead because they ate it.  For them, the bullhead was the goal; actually the biggest bullhead was the goal.  Many people here, fish for walleye.  It is very tasty meat and a game fish to boot.  So it has a double draw.  In that way the walleye fisherperson and the bullhead fisherperson are effectively engaged in the exact same activity with the exact same goal.  They are both trying to catch the biggest fish possible that is made out of the meat that they think is tastiest.

Given the commonalities in our pursuits, one would think that there would be a very tight camaraderie amongst all different sorts of fishpeople.  However, like any community, there are fissures and fractures that cause different factions to spring up.  These factions tend to ignore the things they have in common with other groups and focus exclusively on differences.  One group finds that catching a certain species of fish is easy, ignoring the fact that catching THE LARGEST of that species is still hard.  Or that the official handbook has not designated a certain species as a game fish and it is therefore not worthy of a cast.  Or my favorite, that certain species of fish are non-native and are thus not actually fish at all, but actually don’t exist.  We use different tackle, different bait, or differ in whether or not we release the fish.  All of these thing are used to make one group of fisherperson distinct from others and therefore allow a superiority complex to emerge.

One of the things I love about flyfishing is that I can cross boundaries in terms of what I want to catch, and I am not limited by what I have originally gone out to pursue.  If I went out after Largemouth Bass and a spinner fall occurs, bringing the Mooneye to the surface to feed.  I don’t have the watch helplessly while all the fun passes me by.  I can tie on a dryfly and go crazy.  The point is, that flyfishing allows me to enjoy the opportunities that nature, or god or a low pressure system or whatever, afford me as they come.  I am not constrained by a rigidity in what is the right fish, because the right fish is the one I choose to cast too.  And if he isn’t there, then it is the next one.  I broaden my sources of success to include anything that is presented, allowing me to enjoy the world as it is, rather than as I had hoped it would be.

There is a certain species of fish that I would like to describe for you to guess.  It is an introduced species; very spooky but sometimes visible as it feed on the surface frequently.  Most of its diet consist of small underwater insects.  This fish can be a very choosey eater, and if it is feeding on a certain thing at the time it will not take anything else.  Give up?  It is a Brown Trout.  Also, it is a Carp.

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