There are many different ways to catch a chub

Sep 8, 2014

You boys ever been carpin?

While suffering from a deep, dark state of PMD (Post Montana Depression) a month or so ago, I wandered into the woods alongside one of my favorite hill country rivers in search of salvation.  My quarry for the day was the exotic Cyprinus carpio.  Aside from a monster grass carp out of our neighborhood pond when I was 12 (still the 3rd largest fish I've ever caught) and a few accidental catches while smallmouth fishing, carp are not a fish I've targeted much.  In the mid-july heat in Texas, the bass are lethargic and the stocked trout in the Guadalupe most likely belly-up so there aren't many other options.  

I had previously been to this spot to fish for white bass in March and accidentally caught my first carp on the fly on a wooly bugger dropped right at my side while stripping line out to cast.  This time when I showed up, the water was chocolate milk colored with visibility down to less than 6 inches but man were the carp active. I could immediately see silt clouds and fish wallowing in the shallows.  A recent rainstorm had dumped 4 inches of rain on the Hill County and pools that are normally connected by a trickle were really flowing.  Carp from the reservoir below the river  took advantage of this to get to new waters (see video below).  They were working their way up riffles half as deep as their body and sometimes hilariously rolling over and tumbling back downstream.

 Where the carp flock like the salmon of Capistrano

 I began casting to some silt clouds in a deeper pool when all the sudden, as I stripped my rubber legged wooly, I felt resistance and watched a gar roll on my fly.  Half of the fight consisted of me trying to get a hold of the thing as he flung mud everywhere and managed to tangle my tippet in the worst possible snag in his teeth.  After I let him go, I found my self breathing pretty heavily so either I'm really out of shape or gar are an exciting fish to catch.

I moved down the river a couple pools until I found one where there were at least 30 carp with their backs out of the water rooting around in the muck.  I managed to fool a few before the heat got too stifling.  Carp seem to be the en vogue fly-fishing species lately. Although it's not quite the same as catching wild cutthroat in freestone streams in Montana, rolling around in the muck with the carp and gar was still pretty damn satisfying.

Fog over Driftless

For work I have to travel from Chicago to St. Paul. I fly directly over Driftless country and its a damn good thing I'm flying otherwise I would never make it to St. Paul. Though they don't do it justice, I was able to get a few photos of the fog filled valleys.