Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Carping the Column

From CarpPro Issue 1 (Click)

Tired and defeated, I turned around on the canal path and began my hike back to the truck. After nearly two miles of walking, I didn’t see a single sign of Cyprinus carpio, but during my hasty retreat I almost missed the only fish of the session: a large common that was slowly cruising in the middle of the water column. I led the fish significantly, landing my damselfly in its path. As the carp approached, its predatory instincts took over as it keyed in on the easy meal. A short while later, I released the twenty-pounder back into its deep-water lair. It was yet another cruising carp that fell victim to a mid-column presentation on fly. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Dry or Die

At its core, fly fishing was born out of matching hatches and targeting rising trout. Anglers hone in on the hatch cycles of midges, caddis, mayflies, and stoneflies and closely mimic the stages of their lives with recreations bound on a hook. It requires a certain level of detail and skill with the rod and vice. On the water, it necessitates patience, careful observance, and a keen eye. It also helps to be a good caster. These days, so much of the aura of the industry is centered around catching the largest fish possible and that entails throwing meat. Large articulated streamers, mouse patterns, or tight lining jig flies all are very productive but lack the intimacy of dry fly fishing. The aforementioned techniques are also far easier than fishing dries, especially on highly pressured waterways like the Upper Delaware. Over the years, I have yearned for time on the water during the hatches of Spring. Living in Delaware doesn't afford many opportunities for high level dry fly action and being relegated to the weekend isn't great for timing emergences and good conditions. A positive byproduct of Covid-19 was the ability to work remotely. This led me home and to a river with an under appreciated hatch scene. I found myself with the ability to leave work and head to the river every afternoon. I got in touch with the pulse of the river and experienced the progression of hatches, the response of the river's trout, and found the intimate side of the sport that I sought for so long. I lived the river, and in turn, discovered a few of her secrets. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Woah, Big Gulps huh? Alright...Welp, Cya Later!

The Freshwater P4P Champ  

It was April Fools Day, and the stealthcraft raft drifted on its own accord down the middle of a popular Pennsylvania watershed home to a population of world class smallmouth bass. I stood atop a custom casting platform placed over what would normally be the front seat. I labeled it "TRONS," to serve as a reminder of the float's goal but also to quickly measure and release my quarry. As is the norm, the raft spun in the current, got redirected from wind gusts, and occasionally was pushed into prime lies, overhanging branches, and log jams. Floating alone while trying to cover many river miles is a frustrating and rewarding experience. You have to make due with the opportunities that present themselves and quickly forget all those that pass because someone else isn't on the oars. I could anchor up and dissect each little lie but the float would probably take me four days to complete. 

I had just gotten down from my platform in order to steady the boat in the current. I stood back atop the casting perch and saw my target. A root ball at the base of a large sycamore tree. I quickly double hauled into a side arm cast and threaded a 7 inch articulated fly under the overhanging branches. As the fly approached, I stopped the forward motion of the cast causing the fly and leader to jackknife to the side. My fly landed parallel to the bank a few inches from the base of the tree. I immediately gave a hard strip causing the deer hair fly to make an audible and visual commotion on the water. As the fly paused, the largest smallmouth bass I have ever tangled with engulfed the fly from the rear. I set the hook and triggered a moment of chaos that won't soon be forgotten. Two water clearing leaps and several bulldogging bursts under the raft bent the 7wt. H3 in half. I let out an audible grown as my net slid under the smallmouth. Thick, muscular, and long, she measured a solid 22 inches. 

Moments like this are what make smallmouth bass such an enticing fly rod target. Their tenacity once hooked is legendary. Interacting with them on large flies careening around the surface is an adrenaline filled blast that will always have me coming back for more...