Christmas was only a few days away and up to this point I had spent the majority of the holiday season away from home pursuing steelhead. Feeling a bit guilty, I decided to spend what was left of the holiday season at home with my loved ones…
The thermometer read 14 degrees. I just smirked and put on an additional layer. This addict was three months clean and desperate for a golden fix. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, winter carping remained a mystery to me. Since I've used the words “It isn’t over until it ices over” to describe carp season in the past. It was about time to back up those words.
Rigging took forever as it was mandatory to stop every few moments to clutch my hand warmers. I wondered if what I was doing was even plausible? My question was soon answered. As I approached the pond I noticed a carp slowly making its way along the shoreline. Already in position I just knelt down and waited, it was too good to be true. I took a deep breath and placed my fly. The fish slowly changed course as my fly reached the bottom. When the time came I set the hook but there was zero resistance. Shocked, I watched as the fish continued to search for my fly even though it was somewhere in the grass ten feet behind me. It spooked moments later and disappeared into the gloom.
Two identical scenarios later I picked up on the winter learning curve. At first it seemed as if their depth perception was off. Inaccurately mouthing at the bottom numerous times before the fly was engulfed. The more I thought about it, this behavior was most likely a result of a reduced metabolic rate. I noticed they were using less energy to obtain their food. They inhaled significantly smaller volumes of water while feeding, each fish making multiple attempts before successfully obtaining my fly. During the summer months only one attempt was ever needed.
Once I got the hang of things I did quite well. So well that I spent all of Christmas day on the water too, only to be carp blocked by a feisty rainbow.
So far 2012 has been…for lack of a better word, hellacious. I’ve spent 60+ agonizing hours on the water without seeing a single carp, and loved every minute of it.