This ghost isn’t in the machine – it is the machine

From a bridge twenty feet above the water, I shout directions down to cohort Will Rice as he targets the beast…

“Thirty feet, 10 o’ clock. Strip. Let it sit. Okay, strip.”

The fish eats. After that, you count your blessings if your fly rod survives.

These elusive gamefish haunting our urban waters already reject flies regardless of perfect presentation. Picking and choosing – you know, deep in your own gut, they are formulating an opinion on whether to consume your offering. It’s methodical.

More frightening, however, they’ve now developed a peculiar habit of turning directly towards the rod on hookset, opening their mouths and rolling into the pressure. It looked innocent enough when I first saw it happen – a simple flight reaction – and I wrote it off as bad luck. Now I’ve talked to others who carp, and they’ve seen the same recently.

During yesterday afternoon’s outing, I was asked whether I thought it was good or bad that more fly fishers were paying attention to South Platte carp. My immediate reply was to the positive. Attention directed at the inhabitants of the waterway should beget attention to the river itself. All good.

We also laughed off the idea that these fish were rejecting more flies than they had in years prior – the consensus was there were just too many fish in the river to have covered them all – but I’m beginning to wonder. Scholars have noted these creatures possess an uncanny ability to sense danger, and somehow communicate it to their brethren.

Are they exhibiting learning behaviors: how to avoid, and evade, capture? Somehow relaying that information to their fellow fish? And committing it to memory?

MG signing off (as I’m the one who’s now spooked)

Comments

Wally says:

They’re smart , one day soon our children will be sharing the classroom with them.

Nate says:

This gives me nightmares of the day when something lighter than 2x is going to be “mandatory”.

@Wally – I figure they’ll be teaching in those classrooms.

@Nate – One day we’ll be using four-weights on them too, to guarantee delicate presentation. At least we’ll have a lot of broken rod pics to show for our efforts.

I have seen it firsthand in a small pond with a finite number of fish. At this point, 3 years into fishing that pond, I can no longer catch them on flies. At first, they just spooked to flies with white rubber legs, but now they spook at everything. Smart buggers.