Thursday, August 15, 2013

Guest Post: Dan Frasier of CarpPro Talks Carping

Dan Frasier of CarpPro has always been great to us at TLTFF and is a constant outlet for information when it comes to fly fishing for carp. We usually contact Dan when we have questions regarding new water or when we simply want to pick his brain. As one of the leading editors over at CarpPro, Dan not only has a wealth of knowledge about carp as a species, but writing too. Since our writing isn't always the best, its nice to have someone write for us that actually do so pretty well. Without further adieu, here's Dan...

It had been staring at me from Google Maps for years.   That curving riverine line, the bulge as it widened into a reservoir, the white immediately below the dam and the sharp light blue of the tailwater.  Ahhh that sharp blue; confirming the water’s clarity in its brilliance on the screen; varying its shade as it spread into vast sandy flats.  I knew its potential as a carp fishery.  It had everything it needed to be great: a small pocket of the Bahamas just 85 miles from my doorstep. All I had to do was jump in my jeep. But there it had lain for years, glowing, full of promise and unexplored.

It’s hard to say why I hadn’t gotten up the gumption to make the run and check it out.  I could make some great psychological generalization about my feelings of worthiness to explore this potentially great water. Or an even grander philosophical pronouncement about man’s need for perfection and our fear of discovering that something isn’t as good as we’d hoped.  Or maybe I’m just lazy.  Most likely, though, it’s just life getting in the way.  Three hours round trip is just far enough to eliminate a trip after work and being a single father means that my weekends free for fishing are relatively rare.  So when one comes up I’d hit the most productive water that I knew was close.  My A water where I knew what to expect.  I’d get good shots, I knew where the fish were and I could make it count. We all have water we’ve been meaning to check out, right?

Earlier this year, I couldn’t take it anymore.  Hours of staring at the map, examining access points and making guesses at wadability came to a head when I was presented with a calm, full sun day.  I promptly cleared my work calendar and bolted.

Small towns on back country roads can drag down your average speed and for my part I blew a turn and misread the map to the first access point.   This increased the drama of the campaign.  Minor deflation came though, as two things were immediately obvious:

First off, this place was no secret.  Four boats glided around the deepest water, bowfisherman poised on their bow, ready.  Well, maybe that image is a little romantic for anyone who practices “catch and release” bowfishing.  Maybe better to say: four beat up johnboats puttered around while apparently drunk, well-armed men swayed dangerously on their bows.  Fact is, I hate people shooting animals and throwing them back.  It’s illegal as hell and all too often overlooked.  Regardless, they seemed to be well out in the deep water and probably wouldn’t be able to actually shoot me if I yelled something aggressive at them. 

Second notable was more important:, the water was dead clear and there were fish everywhere. 

I scrambled down the riprap with just my rod and a box of flies.  Fish were cruising about 50 feet from the riprap in deep water, moving up and down the water column.  It wasn’t clear if they were eating or not, but there was no way I was going to let this fish pass unaddressed.  On my third cast the fly slowly drifted in front of a carp that turned, dove and followed for 10 feet before eating.  I knew these sterile, deep-water situations could hold real meat eaters. Case in point: a few casts later, with a minnow imitation, a carp chased a stripped fly and ate it in pike fashion.  Amazing stuff. 

There were dozens of carp cruising within casting distance of that one perch I had found and God knows how many meandering along the riprap that extended for a half a mile downstream.  This was better than I had hoped and the best water lay still to come; further downstream… on the flats. I could have spent all day working that riprap and landed many fish, but remember… scouting mission and all that.

Wading the flats was a trip.  Good visibility and a very firm bottom, they were a maze of submerged sandbars, on which a guy could wade hundreds of feet out into the river.   Reaching a dead-end; you suppress the panic and try to do the maze in reverse. 

The fish were holding in the deep channels and moving up onto the flats to feed.  They were spooky, big and tough.  The varying currents made your sink different on each fish and the loads of gar and buffalo that were all around made identifying carp and getting flies to them a challenge.  But the sight fishing was special in that I had big fish on white sand in clear water.  What more could a guy living in flyover country ask for?

This is the great thing about carp fishing.  We don’t know all the water; we don’t know the best waters.  We know that the Columbia is GREAT.  We know that the Blackfoot is GREAT.  Lake Michigan has been called the greatest flats fishing in North America for ANY species by Kirk Deeter, and all around Denver there is great carp fishing.  But those places aren’t fished because we know they are great.  We know they are great because they are fished.  But there is more out there.  We don’t know where the best of all the carp fishing IS because we haven’t looked yet.  Those of us that are inseperably married to seeking out carp on the fly have an opportunity that presents itself to very few anglers throughout history.  That is: we get to seek unexplored waters for a species that isn’t really pursued.  We get to be the ONLY stick on the water; akin to being a settler with a 6 wt, a box of dries and waders. The ONLY ones.  These are fleeting opportunities. 

When it was all said and done, I’d say that water was special in it’s own way.  Deepwater aggressive fish and shallow tailing fish in close proximity.  Is it the greatest fishery in the US?  I don’t know… that’s gonna take a lot more exploring to figure out. 

A huge thanks goes out to Dan Frasier and CarpPro for their contributions to Carp Week. They were generous enough to donate a copy of Kirk Deeter's new book, The Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing for Carp. We will be giving away a copy to the winner of the Best Picture in our Carp Week Photo Contest so be sure to send in your photos! You can find Dan Frasier on Twitter and Instagram for more awesome carp photos and tweets and you can find CarpPro on their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well. Make sure you roll on over and 'like' and follow both of them to show some love!

Boom...The TLTFF Crew

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