Sunday, May 2, 2010

"Dad, I've Got A Big Fish"

It had been twelve years since my father and I fished a family friend's pond. Back then I had yet to learn the ways of the fly and took to the spinning rod to sporadically catch a few fish. I was unaware really, of the potential opportunities that the pond offered. If I had a pair of polarized sun glasses back in the day, maybe I would have had the privilege to see what lurked beneath, in the shadows. Twelve years later, I approached the same pond with an entirely different outlook on fishing. I had evolved.

Pockets Empty.
Go Time.

Oh No You Don't.

It didn't take long for me to look past the large bass and smaller panfish in the shallows. Armed with a pair of Oakley's and a few years of golden ghost fishing, I had trained my eyes to find the tell tale outlines of bottom dwellers. I noticed them almost immediately. They stuck out like a sore thumb. Mainly catfish, their dark shapes would cruise in and out of the shallows looking for an escaping meal. It took awhile before I saw my first carp. She was out a ways and I had no way of getting close enough because of the foliage and trees lining the banks. I had to wait for a window of opportunity. Three hours in, and I had exactly one chance. Clear blue skies, ninety degree heat, and clear water are not the best situations for carp. Yes, you have a lot of visibility but they do as well. I had a great opportunity and I laid my damsel out perfectly, and she wanted nothing to do it with it. I switched flies and once again, she did not care. Normally, similar efforts would fool even seasoned carp. I made another cast, and this time she gave me the tail and darted off probably laughing at my feeble attempt.

Close Quarters Combat.


Dragging Her The Hell Out Of There.

I was disheartened and played around with some smaller fish in the shallows. However, I could not get a clear shot. Most of the time, a sunfish would eat my offering well before it descended to the zone resulting in a lot of spooked fish. I gave up and decided to help my father catch some more fish. I was making my way around the tree lined shore when there she was. She was coming directly at me from an angle, about thirty yards out. The wind had been picking up causing the surface to ripple. A perfect scenario. I clamped off a woolly bugger and went with a sucker spawn. Angling my cast between two trees I laid a cast out and led the fish several feet. My fly hit the water and began absorbing water, sinking faster and faster. About the time it reached bottom, the carp picked her head out of the mud and was presented with a curious meal. I had no view of my fly because the wind was ripping and the water was muddied. I focused on where my fly should be in the muck on the bottom. I was watching the fish from here on out.

The Tide Turns.
Super Pumped.

Backing Run Number Two.

Making Her Grand Appearance.

If you regularly chase carp on the fly, then you surely know this feeling. More often than not it can be a guessing game. The more familiar and comfortable you are with the species the more in sync you come with their feeding habits. My friends and I describe this as a sixth sense. In terms of carp fishing, this sixth sense is somehow knowing when to set the hook. Intelligent carp have a tendency to inspect a meal for quite some time before actually taking it. Without a clear view of the take, I had to rely solely on my sixth sense. Honed over time and with several practice sessions in my immediate past, I felt comfortable. My breathing slowed as the fish came closer and closer to the zone. She came to an abrupt stop and lingered slowly over where my fly should be. I waited. Then, like it usually does, a feeling came over me and I just knew. It was time. I closed my eyes and lifted. There she was. Holy shit, there she was. She took off like a bat out of hell and I was left with only a few words:

"Dad, I've got a big fish"

Bringing Her In.

Like A Log.

Slab of the Month Worthy?

Those words, will probably always be remembered by my father. He has already told me they rank right up there (to him) with "We're going to need a bigger boat," from Jaws, and his old favorite line of mine, "Dad, I want this car," while car shopping on my sixteenth birthday. He ran like the old man he is, over to me and by this time, I was emptying my pockets as my reel emptied into the pond. The backing knot ticked through my guides and I threw the last spool of tippet on the bank before hopping into the filth. My only pair of shorts and shoes for the weekend be damned. It was go time.

One Old Bruiser.

Fully Scaled Mirror Carp.

Length: Long.
Weight: Heavy.

Rock A Bye Baby.

The decision was entirely necessary, I was flanked by trees and had nowhere to land the large carp. Several pine tree branches descended into the water to my right. Not a good thing. I worked on regaining my backing and keeping the behemoth out of the lily pads a hundred feet of sharkskin away. My six weight was bent to the cork and I gave her the down and dirty. With half my line back in, she made a bee line for the pine branches and there wasn't much I could do. I was cranking the reel as fast as I could, but I could not keep up. My line wrapped around the branches and I began a quick trot. The tensest moments of the duel occurred next as we danced the tango under those branches. I had to give slack to her twice to get my line untangled as she death rolled along the bank. I managed, and worked my way to a suitable landing area. She tired and came in. She saw me for the first time next and backing run number two commenced almost ten minutes into the duel. However, she didn't have much left and I brought her in as quickly and as gingerly as possible. I knew she was the largest freshwater fish I had ever hooked, but when she was laying beached in the water in front of me, I could not believe how truly large she was.

A Gratuitous 37 Inches.
Realistically Closer To 35.

One Last Hero Shot.


After watching her meander off into the muddied water, my father and I decided to pack it in. We laughed about the fight in and out of the water as we made our way to the car. On the car ride home, I am sure twenty three years worth of memories were being recalled and the newest one was being placed somewhere among them. At home, my father rambled on to whoever would listen about the words, that came out of my mouth when I set the hook. He then preceded to enthusiastically account the entire fight. It was then that I realized, that in this lifetime of fishing with friends and family, my father and I had created a memory that would last for a very long time. I had caught a very large fish and in doing so, created a moment in time that my father and I will always share.

Giddy As A School Girl.


Unknown said...


Bigerrfish said...

Right on man... I was hoping you would have time to write this up... and that you got to spend the time with your ol man probably doubled the fun, I can hear him "thats my boyie"... Hey I have added you to my blog roll and am following your blog, Please consider doing the same..?

The Jersey Angler said...

Great post... Awesome fish!

Chris Michels said...

WOOOOOOOOO YAAAAAAAAAAA! Great story, and even better fish!

Mark said...

Many thanks guys, she was a hoss.

BigFish- Consider it done.

Fishing Fury said...

Awesome catch!

Noah Fleming said...

Amazing Fish - great story.


John Montana said...

man, i JUST saw this. awesome fish. congrats!

Steelie Mike said...

That is awesome! Thanks!