Trials and Tribulations: Part Two
I finished last summer desperately trying to accomplish one goal. Catch a canal carp. I failed miserably. Fast forward to this new year and on the eve of another el verano my holy grail once again are the elusive ghosts that occupy that forsaken piece of water. As noted last summer in trials and tribulations, the carping at the canal ain't easy. The one mile stretch of carp water is narrow, deep, off colored, full of structure, poison ivy, mosquitos, and they experience every type of fishing pressure on a daily basis. Two out of three times I head to the canal and walk back and forth cranking my neck to the side, I come up empty handed. Thats right, most of the time, I don't even see one. Not even a glimpse. When I finally do see canal gold, its usually because they have already seen me and are swimming for their lives. When I am lucky, and I mean extremely lucky, I am presented with a feeding carp, along the bank, where I am actually able to present him/her with a fly. This is a rarity. So many variables are at play and more often than not I end up being carp blocked.
Of all the factors that come into play fishing for some golden bones at the canal, a few stand out. The number one carp block is the resident canal junkie. These people visit the canal seemingly every day. They ride bikes, walk the dog, go for a jog, swim, throw rocks, and scare the living out of every carp in the vicinity. It is a wonder, I am able to see carp. Oh, and of those 1/3 times I actually see a carp, nine out of ten times they are spooked and traveling up or down the canal at a blistering rate. This is attributed to the daily traffic the canal sees and the pressure from spin, fly, and bow fishermen. The best opportunity you have of not being carp blocked by the junkies is to get their extremely early. My recent attempt at getting there early, was not early enough. I pulled into the parking lot to find an old Cadillac. A half mile down the canal path I found my blocker. It was an eighty year old woman fishing. I didn't see a fish in the first half mile. Only passed her did I have my opportunities. Later on in the morning, she blocked me once again. I was hunched over, kneeling in the poison ivy, kung fu carping two twenty pounders along the bank. The sweet old lady, bless her soul, came right up behind me to see what I was stalking. Needless to say, the carp took off, never to be seen again.
Coming in at a close second, third, and fourth are the following carp blocks. They can be arranged in any particular order because they are very similar and seem to happen every time I am graced with a carps presence. Waterfowl of any kind. With any body of water, there are always birds congregating there to make as much noise and disturbances as possible the moment you get too close for their comfort. Turtles of any kind, including the invasives. Turtles are all over the canal and they freak out the moment you walk down the path as well, hopping and sliding into the water letting every carp in the vicinity know that danger is near. The fourth carp block is just plain old noise. I have seen carp spook from a nearby train, a firecracker going off, a car horn, a cell phone, and even my own voice.
The fifth and sixth carp blocks occur in the heat of the moment when your fly is actually approaching the zone. The first, and the most annoying of all carp blocks are the mosquitos. In the heat of the summer, the mosquitos along the canal are actually terrifying and seemingly immune to 100% deet. It is extremely difficult to concentrate on your descending fly and a monstrosity of a carp when hundreds of mosquitos are buzzing in your ear, burrowing into your skin, and flying under your hood, bandana, and sunglasses. It is uncomfortable stuff. The sixth carp block is every child's favorite: the bluegill. There was nothing I enjoyed more as a youngster than pulling out pumpkinseed after bluegill after pumpkinseed for my father to take off the hook. Now, I loath bluegills. They have ruined so many chances at canal carp glory that I want to destroy every single one of them. It is rather heartbreaking to have a carp descend upon your damsel only to have a three inch eating machine snatch the prize and send thirty pounds of scaled beauty into the depths.
The final carp block is me. I am an idiot. The stars aligned on my last canal outing. I weathered getting carp blocked by all of the above and managed to hook into a seasoned, wild, and rather huge canal carp. The fight lasted around 5-10 minutes before silly me decided to put some extra pressure on a running pissed off fish. I suffered a mental lapse and forgot I had on 4x tippet and was fighting a twenty plus pound piece of bone and muscle. The tide was in my favor and the next thing I knew the carp had a second wind. He blitzed for a downed tree on the opposite bank. My drag screamed and I placed my fingers on the line to slow her down some more. Next I put a little more torque on the rod and just like it always does, you envision and have a feeling the line is about to snap, followed by a glimmer of hope that it won't, then the reality of a limp line flying back at your face.
There are so many variables at play in this game, so many obstacles in the path towards success, but when it all boils down to it, I am the final straw. I have to overcome all of that in order to reach my pinnacle. In the moment, when all that adrenaline is pumping and all those outside disturbances are encroaching upon me, I have to make the cast, I have to make the hook set, and I have to play and land the fish of a lifetime.
Easier said, than done.