Tag: Barry Reynolds

The Thinking Man’s Carpmobile

By 10am we’d landed in a suburb the name of which evades me. We stalked ultra-spooky carp at puddle depths, and for a moment I wished I had a 4-weight in hand.

It hit me on before we embarked to the next venue…Reynolds is driving a yuppie mobile!


I began conjuring as many quasi-insults as I could, the plan being to hold my tongue until the moment was just right.

Then we hit a stinky, murky, carp-infested stillwater if there ever was one.

Thinking Man's Carp

At which point I came up empty handed. And the driver did not.

MG signing off (thanking my lucky stars I know how to keep my fat trap shut)


“At the end of the day, there’s not a bigger, stronger, more intelligent fish that’s going to leave you a better angler and give you the joy of getting your clock cleaned.” – Barry Reynolds

Barry mostly cleans their clocks, while the rest of us stand around with our ***** in our hands. Except of course for Tim Glomb, who has a camera in his.

MG signing off (thankful there is no 12-step program for carpaholism)

The Barry Reynolds Show

Hosted by who else?

The Host

And co-starring Tim Glomb of Cazador Media, who doubled as cameraman.

Co-starring Tim Glomb

I auditioned for a supporting role, but wound up an extra…

Next time I'm taking the Executive Producer title

MG signing off (because I almost started hitting small streams for trout…almost)

The improbability breeds the obsession

fly-fishingEvery year around the middle of the third week of September, I make my way down to South Park. No particular reason per se, and I usually go it alone. There I sit by the bank, fiddle with my gear, make a few select casts, and catch a few trout.

This past weekend marked the pilgrimage, but I didn’t travel any further than Englewood. I forsook a cool, clear mountain stream, winding across a tall grass expanse and over round, moss covered rocks for the faint scent of industrial decay, rusty barrels and re-bar the only potential cover for my prey. There is no comfortable place to rest, at least not without an updated tetanus shot.

On the way home I pick up some tying materials. The hook choice is not Tiemco 200Rs in size 16 but Gamakatsu 3X heavies in #8. They have a warning label on them…


I ponder that, and smile. But the true reason for my glee doesn’t sink in until well past bedtime.

carpFishing the urban warmwater, you need every edge you can get, even if you have to pay triple for it. The quarry can feel your feet hit the ground after you hop a fence fifty yards from the water’s edge, and smell you upstream at twice that distance. They can see 4X flourocarbon bouncing on the bottom, and hear your reel clicking over a train full of coal passing by.

Your adversary leaves numerous traces of their presence, but either feigns ignorance of yours or rockets away as though you haven’t brushed your teeth in a month. But if it’s Friday the 13th, Mars is in retrograde, an El Niño is forming around the Bering Strait, and you’re holding the winning ticket on a forty week Powerball run, you find yourself on the set of an old Clint Eastwood movie.

First, there’s a faint whisper in your ear…

You feeling lucky, punk?

Then a tail pops up, and over the whirring of the reel’s drag there’s a distant shout…

Make my day!

You lose or destroy an inordinate number of flies, not by the usual snagging on branches but via wanton theft and stone cold violence. And now you have to ship your shattered fly rod back to the manufacturer too. It’s a good thing they don’t ask whether you broke it over your knee.

The consolation prize? Outside of the box office stars, there’s still a fine cast of characters.

Will Rice  Barry Reynolds channel catfish

MG signing off (to join the Paparazzi)

Old School Meets New School: The Urban South Platte Will Never Be the Same

fly fishing for carpLa Carpe

Cyprinus carpio, the common carp, is at once a revered conventional tackle sport fish for Europeans, the largest aquaculture species in the world, and considered a pseudo-menace that negatively impacts many waterways they are otherwise introduced to. In Denver, however, the carp has quickly become many fly anglers’ target numero uno, pushing trout, for which Colorado’s famous tailwaters are renown, firmly into the alternative species category.

The fish are extremely wary, highly intelligent, and frequently responsible for broken tackle no matter the angler’s skill. While they feed in pods, foraging across the water bottom and churning up wide swaths of muck, they are also extremely selective about their meals. They represent the ultimate challenge for the future of fly angling, and may someday be credited with saving the urban South Platte River as well.

Like A Six Weight

The South Platte Pro-Am Carp Slam was conjured in 2007 by the Denver chapter of Trout Unlimited as a way to raise money for a unique project, turning the upper mile of the urban South Platte River into a viable trout fishery. The section barren, the water quality questionable, and the estimated price tag in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, DTU’s black sheep image would be secure for at least a few more years. The group linked up with Barry Reynolds, author of the seminal work Carp On The Fly, gathered a handful of sponsors, and pulled off their first event. It barely broke even.

Behind the scenes, however, fly-fishing for carp was exploding in Colorado. Die-hard anglers, tired of crowds, infighting over water access rights, and the constant bombardment of guilt over the spread of invasive species into the rivers they frequented, began looking elsewhere for their fix. They soon found it, in suburban ponds, besides golf course greens, and in putrid drainage ditches. They began making purposeful trips to South Park, not for the lunker trout cruising the river in Spinney Mountain Ranch, but for the carp carousing the flats around Eleven Mile Reservoir. And they flocked to the South Platte River running straight through downtown Denver, in droves.

You don’t flyfish for carp anymore in town without bumping into someone else who’s doing the same. Cyclists along the riverside trail used to hurl insults as they passed by – now they stop, watch, ask a lot of question, and sometimes even spot fish for anglers. The areas around Mile High Stadium and Confluence Park, where Cherry Creek meets the Platte, were the go-to spots – everything south of Union Street in Englewood all the way north to Bridge Street in Brighton has now been scouted out. New school urban carp fanatics pay careful attention to the weather, monitor river flow gauge stations, and share daily speculation as to what sections of the river might be most productive for after-work outings.

The Gunslingers Don’t Shoot Each Other

David Luna, affectionately referred to by friends as “Butters” for reasons unknown even to him, is one of the new breed of fly angler committed to chasing carp. David spends in upwards of a 100+ days a year pursuing the fish across the Front Range, with particular emphasis on the water right out his back door. While David has been carping for just a handful of years, the work has paid off – during this year’s Carp Slam, David stood atop the podium in both the Pro-Am competition and the inaugural Open event the following day. He edged out colleague and mentor Barry Reynolds on the first day too, generating some controversy in the process.

The Carp Slam is an all-volunteer event, and in the interest of making things easier on field judges and those tallying the scores a last minute rule change was inserted in to the mix – all fish lengths would be rounded up to the next whole inch. As the Pro-Am progressed, it became clear to all that competition would be tough – only a few teams had even landed a carp. By day’s end, teams led by Luna and Reynolds were neck and neck, with single 28.5 inch and 29 inch fish respectively – in essence a tie. Officials convened behind closed doors, and when they emerged the team of “Butters” Luna and Paul Beranato were declared the victors, a smallmouth bass picked up by Team Butters the deciding factor. By the following Monday, word had spread that Barry Reynolds was fuming, and might never compete in the Slam again.

The problem with rumors is they are generally speculation, often taken second hand, third hand, or worse. When you add fly-fishing, and an after-party that includes alcohol consumption, you can generally bet those rumors are bunk. Messrs. Luna and Reynolds were quick to set the story straight. “I had absolutely no problem with David’s win,” said Reynolds. “It is what it is, although I thought it was odd that the judges would include a non-carp species in making the final determination instead of simply dropping the rounding up rule. But what did irk me was that in the confusion, Justin Clark, who paid to fish with me, didn’t get the recognition he deserved.”

Luna agreed: “I can’t say I’m not happy my team won, but it was touch and go there for a while and I’m still a little shocked. Personally, I thought Barry’s team deserved the cup when it was all said and done.” Luna wound up offering Reynolds the trophy, but Reynolds declined, noting, “David earned that cup. He works very hard at a very tough game, and I’m glad it was him. Heck, he even used one of my rods for the event!”

David Luna and Barry Reynolds

David Luna and Barry Reynolds are the best of friends. They fish together, exchange ideas about carp fishing, and shine as true sportsmen when they go head to head. Both share the same goal as it relates to the Carp Slam and the river in general. “This is not about winning or losing,” said Reynolds. “It’s about promoting a healthy fishery, and it’s getting healthier every day.” Luna added, “We’re catching a lot more fish besides carp now. That’s got to prove that someone’s doing something right. It makes us believe in this tournament more than ever.”

About That Bass

The 2010 South Platte Pro-Am Carp Slam was decided…over a smallmouth bass. “We caught fewer carp this year than we have in years past,” says Carp Slam Director Tim Emery. “The flow was unsettled, and anglers I’ve talked to are also saying the carp in the Platte have gotten a lot smarter in the past few years. In a way, the awareness we’ve created has made us our own worst enemy. But, more alternative species like smallmouth bass were caught than in any other year,” Emery added. “That is our future, and a sure sign of the progress being made on this fishery.”

Todd Fehr, President of Denver Trout Unlimited and an active supporter of efforts being made by the Greenway Foundation and others, views the urban South Platte River and the associated Carp Slam effort from 14,000 feet. “We started with this simple idea of turning the upper section of the Platte into trout habitat, but the after-effects of volunteer clean-up efforts up and down the river are already happening right before our eyes.” Fehr refers to the Carson Nature Center rehabilitation effort, which is taking place near the Chatfield Reservoir, and the trash collection projects that various organizations, including Trout Unlimited, sponsor throughout the year. “Carp can live in sewers – we’ve always known that. But we are now beginning to see that varying species can survive and thrive in the urban South Platte. There is potentially a fish for every section of that river, and we are expanding our thought process and our efforts going forward to reflect the fact.”

What’s Next For the Carp Slam?

It’s not going away, because the river and the carp are here to stay. Many people are suggesting, however, that despite raising over $10,000 this year, the South Platte Carp Slam needs changes – earlier efforts, new blood, and widened breadth to reflect its increasing scope and purpose.

Proposals to expand the effectiveness of the Carp Slam are already being floated…

  • Developing a committee process for various parts of the event, thereby alleviating the pressure which ultimately falls on the present small team of organizers;
  • Selecting professionals, fishing beats, and publishing rules earlier, allowing participants to begin preparation long before the event takes place;
  • Pursuing sponsors far in advance of the event, and significantly increasing the size and scope of potential winnings; and
  • Promoting the competition outside of the Denver Metro area, with the goal increasing participation from fly fishers throughout the US.
  • Additional, potentially controversial suggestions also include expanding the Open day with an all-tackle division, pitting the fly anglers against those using conventional tackle, allowing scent masking, and, based on the expanding health of the fishery, officially targeting additional species.

    Nothing is set in stone, and the decision-making is being left wide open. Tim Emery is organizing a get together, tentatively set for early evening September 13, 2010, at the Wynkoop Brewery, as a forum to exchange ideas about how to make Carp Slam ’11 the finest ever. If you care at all about the South Platte River running through our fair town, have fished in the Carp Slam and/or want to fish in it in the future, or are a bystander, naysayer, or fair-weather rumor-mongerer that wants to speak their mind, now’s your chance to be heard. Additional details will be posted at CarpSlam.org in the coming few days.

    A new era has dawned for the carp, the once smelly waterway it calls home, and every angler, boater, bird, biker, and fine-finned friend that shouts out the same. Because it’s certain our river is moving right along.

    MG signing off (to stock up on burritos and beer for a guest coming in to fish the urban Platte)

    Tallying the score for my fly-fishing year (2009)

    I’d planned on fishing Christmas day, but with high temps expected to climb no higher than the teens I’m likely to bag it. Hence, my fly-fishing year is over, and this year-in-review comes a few days early.

    The learning curve

    I spent 30 minutes talking one-on-one with Lefty Kreh, in the second week of January. I should have quit while I was ahead. (+30)

    Creating infamy

    The Wall Street Journal showed up in Denver after I guaranteed them some carp on the fly footage, and Tom Teasdale got front page billing in the print edition, nationally. I know self-made entrepreneurs with $250 million net worths that never made the front page of the WSJ. So I take all the credit for this one. (+250)

    Time spent fishing is better than time spent working

    I had 22 days on the Blue River, 21 days on suburban lakes, 13 days on the urban South Platte, 10 days on the Dream Stream, 4 days on the Williams Fork, 3 days on the North Platte, 3 days on the salt, 1 day in Cheesman Canyon, 1 day on the Colorado, and a few minutes on Gore Creek and Ten Mile Creek. (+78.5) ALMOST FORGOT: 2 days on the Eagle, and a day on “Moose Creek” – so +81.5

    Worth a mention

    I caught this fish and this fish using 5X tippets and tiny flies (+2). I used a San Juan Worm one day this year – this fish was the result (+1). I almost died from dehydration in the Carp Slam, but thank my lucky stars Barry Reynolds was my partner (+10).

    Some gear runs through it

    I acquired five fly rods and four fly reels this year (+9). I dumped one 2009 rod for another (+0), gave one rod up as a going away present (+1), and passed on three reels to folks that really needed them (-3). At least two rods will get ejected in the spring, and I’m on the hunt for another reel (-1).

    I retired some waders, and waited patiently for some others (+0). I booted three pairs of wading boots, and wound up with two pairs in their place (-1). I gave away two wading belts (+2), and I found my socks (+20).

    I bought seven fly lines, was given one fly line, sold two fly lines, and gave seven fly lines away (+13). I ruined one fly line, and one fly line just plain fell apart on me (-2). Two fly lines are still in the boxes (-2). I gave away a tippet dispenser, six spools of tippet, 250 yards of gelspun backing, and spooled/rigged four reels for newbies (+261).

    Fly boxes are for civilians

    I purchased 780 flies, tied ten flies, bent four hooks, popped 28 leaders with two-fly rigs, and snagged 2,462 flies on tree branches. (-1,732)

    Liar liar pants on fire

    I caught 225 brown, rainbow and/or cutthroat trout over ten pounds, 150 carp over forty pounds, 90 largemouth bass over eleven pounds, and one state record brook trout (at twelve pounds) that I didn’t get a picture of since I was by myself in a desolate location with no food, water, or camera. (225 X 10) + (150 X 40) + (90 X 12) + (1 X 12 X 11,500 foot elevation) = +147,330

    High note

    I acquired a king’s hoard of new friends, but unlike royalty throughout history I wouldn’t trade them for anything. And I spent some precious time fishing with some dear old friends too. ((7382 + 6) X 1014 = 7.382e+17) (Note: score arrived at by adding total friends, new and old, to the number of beers consumed in their company, individually, post-outing, then multiplying by the ACTUAL VALUE of time spent fishing and/or drinking with them)

    Final tally

    I want to say I lost count, but the reality is I’m an accountant, which means I don’t know how to count it was just a darn good year.

    Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, What-Have-You, and a Happy New Year to all.

    MG signing off (until 2010)

    Quick review: The Barry Reynolds “Hog Collector” Collection of fly fishing videos

    The Barry Reynolds Hog CollectionTwo videos might not make a collection, but this should not matter to you. There’s a fine art to collecting hogs, and Barry Reynolds is the RembrandtPicasso … ok, maybe just the Andy Warhol of the practice. Mr. Reynolds is best known for chasing fish that other fly anglers don’t have the stomach for ignore. His specialties are pike and carp.

    Barry Reynolds is also famous throughout the angling world for known for being my partner in the last South Platte Pro-Am Carp Slam. We placed second, so it’s obvious I can’t hold back the bias with a full blown review of his videos. I’m therefore making it quick…

    Pike On The Fly: In Pursuit of the Water Wolf is a collection of sheer and utter badassery of the likes I have never seen and you probably haven’t either. The lengthy clip of Barry and his crew whaling trophy pike after trophy pike on top water flies, bagging what had to be fifty to sixty of them in a single afternoon, is enough to make even the most purist dry fly angler green with envy. The multiple catches over fifty inches runs a close second.

    Urban Warfare: In Pursuit of the Poor Man’s Bonefish is Reynolds most recent flick. It’s an assemblage of carp mayhem with nuclear reactors water treatment plants consistently in background. Barry often wet wades the urban South Platte, which is comes complete with a happy helping of e.coli. Some think the carp must be Barry must be immune to e. coli infection. Those people are probably right. This flick also has an ample supply of tips, as does it’s pike-oriented sister.

    I don’t know the wheres, hows, or dollars involved in obtaining either of these videos as they were handed to me gratis by the man himself. So I’m going to make it easy on you – send via email or post a link to a picture of you with either a 35+ inch pike or a 28+ inch carp, with your fly rod in plain view, and I’ll send you the respective video absolutely, 100%, un-categorically free. I’ll be the judge as to size (unless your photographic evidence includes the tape), and I reserve the right to badger you incessantly regarding proof of identity.

    That was unbiased quick, eh?

    Luck of the draw for Carp Slam

    Carp Slam 2009I could pontificate about countdown, but the Carp Slam is less that 12 hours away. I’m presently sitting at Primal Fly headquarters, shooting the bull with the lovely Erin Sessanna and relishing in my luck, again.

    I don’t have full details of the pairings, but I do know this: I’m fishing with the one, the only, Barry Reynolds. Barry is da’ man (even when I’m around), having literally written the book on carp on the fly. I couldn’t be happier with this draw. We have tough beats above 104th Street in the morning (which means small fish) but pulled Oxford Avenue for the afternoon, which is home to a pile of 30+ pounders.

    In other news, Primal Fly thugs James Snyder and Tom Teasdale are fishing together. And they also drew Florida Avenue for the afternoon – it’s their home stomping ground. There has been some backoffice debate as to what sexual favors flies were traded for this.

    It’s going to be an exciting day. Now, if we could only get the grill started.

    PS: A number of anglers are in rare form as we speak, declaring victory and asking that the rest of us to simply not show up. I’m quietly typing.