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Michael Gracie

Is carp fishing the solution to the world’s problems?

We wandered rather aimlessly, debating the best course to cool Middle East conflict as well as the merits of transporting Ebola patients out of quarantine zones. But before viable conclusions were fully constructed, we happened upon the water from nowhere.

“Are those all carp plumes?”

“Seems so.”

A half dozen eats later yours truly was feeling pretty good about the direction this was headed. Had a leg up on the adversary, and muck on the boots to show for it.

carp muck

Caked on is viewed favorably

Packed it in, then took the low (additionally mucky) road over to my associate’s stake out. Less than five minutes later I watch a fat cyprinid move on a fly in an incomprehensibly obvious manner.

“That looked too easy.”

“Yea, I barely hit three-one-thousand and the fly was gone.”

fat carp

Who’s feeding you sister?

Our overarching quest incomplete, we decide to hold a post-outing beer summit. I guess because that’s what world leaders do, although they don’t seem to accomplish much either.

MG signing off (because the answer is no, but it was fun nonetheless)

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Keeping it simple …

Beaver Island

Click Here To Proceed

Only 66.7% of the story left, but you can play catch up.

MG signing off (expecting the plot to thicken)

Rock n’ roll carp break

When you have forty-five minutes to spare around lunchtime, turn up the music…

One Carp...Two Carp...Three Carp...

Three Lock Box.

We didn’t have an hour and a half, but extended the mix anyway. Thereafter we debated going the one potato two potato route, but concluded that would be too childish even for brethren playing a little midday hooky. And we wound up one short of seven anyway.

Remember, it’s about having fun. Regardless of time or place, although the people certainly make a difference.

MG signing off (because acting like a kid is good every now and then, despite what the adults tell you)

About exhausting that change in tactics

After absorbing the wisdom of his elders, the original dirtbag fly angler, Nate O’Taylor, proves perseverance can pay off on the urban South Platte…

taylorcarp

Master Taylor went five for seven. Yours truly? Zero for five (smallies don’t count in this game). Must have been the wine I gifted he and his new bride, or the massive supply of fly-tying materials I handed him when his better half wasn’t looking.

As a side note, the wedding was 100% bona fide off-the-rails. You can’t beat nuptials where the entire guest list lines up at the bar after dinner, grabs their drinks, and then moves directly to the back of the line once again. And again, and again.

We also spotted a hefty whitetail and a gonzo herd of fat turkeys, as well as signs (in the form of dispensed 12-gauge shells) that others know such creatures exist on this very public land. Which kinda sucks considering the original [extremely edible] wildlife discovery.

MG signing off (because sometimes you are on and sometimes you are off, but giving up is for sissies)

A blatant lack of productivity marks the change of seasons

Signs said the water had dropped significantly in the last twenty-four hours. The flats were clear and had changed their shape since the last visit. No surprise: it has been a summer spent considering Cyprinidae an afterthought. The prime entry points are dotted with footprints. In two stops over three miles and hours we count a half-dozen fellow anglers, remarking to ourselves on the silliness of those wearing waders. The carps waver from nowhere to be found to skittish as urban squirrels in a neighborhood full of outdoor house cats. We conclude that marching forth is futile – the river is off-color downstream, and has taken a hammering throughout our present coordinates.

Carp do not like crowds, and their knowledge of your presence almost always coincides with the beer o’clock chime. Let those cutting their teeth suffer the impecuniosity of hookups.

Chatter turns to fitting alternatives…

THE RATIONAL: Do you think it’s worth hitting The Mile in late September?

YOURS TRULY: Too early. But definitely a go the month after.

THE RATIONAL: We could fly into Missoula, but you have to promise you won’t blog about where I take you.

YOURS TRULY: I don’t have a problem with that, although it may be too late for a definite plan – I’m tight on time through the holidays. But I do think dropping the boat into Location X and seeing how it fishes back towards shore is a good idea. No use giving up completely until we’ve exhausted all changes in tactics.

THE RATIONAL: Next weekend. I just need to pick up new oars. I also think we need to hit Location Y and Z every chance we get. You know if we make the haul enough times, we’ll eventually wind up in the same situation as 2011.

YOURS TRULY: Very good idea. What’s the line on the Alabama/VT game?

THE RATIONAL: Some goof actually called for an upset.

YOURS TRULY: I think that fact constitutes the new Plan B.

And so it went. Jalapeno poppers, ribs, wings, refreshments, and ESPN GamePlan.

Jalepeno PoppersSmoked Ribs
Chicken WingsGeorgia v. Clemson

The Georgia Bulldogs lost their opener, and the Florida Gators won theirs. The following morning was consumed with cool grey skies. The summer heat may still rear its unpleasant head, but autumn is close at hand. Nothing was accomplished, besides recharging the batteries in front of a widescreen.

All seems right with the world.

MG signing off (at least for the time being)

The Summer of Carp Love is in full swing

Summer’s barely gotten cranked up, and yet the flows are at historic lows while the temps climb daily into the upper 90s.

A fly angler’s worst nightmare? Hardly.

While practicing Tai Chi down by the South Platte River’s edge today, I received a couple of phone calls and texts. Yes, they disrupted my zen, and to add insult to injury they all sounded roughly the same: “Them carps are eating everything we throw at them.” Fly fishers being the lying sacks that they are, I returned to form eight, and then pulled a muscle in my left pinky finger. Yes, I’m really out of shape.

Thankfully, there just so happened to be a fly rod laying right beside my cooler full of beer jug of homeopathic tea, so I gave it a cast…

carp on the fly

…and discovered that while fly fishers are still liars, the carp have indeed shifted into high gear. They are visibly following flies, turning back after them, and flat out charging after the faux meals when their buddies are nearby. Nothing beats seeing the eat happen, except maybe seeing the next eat, or the one after that. Even better, the Redington/Rio combo I’ve been contracted to destroy is still looking and feeling good as new, which means I’m failing at the task and must step up the efforts.

MG signing off (because if you can’t beat the heat you might as well join it)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Special thanks goes out to Andy “Bondo” Bond, former Gore Creek trout guide, for the transportation, the photo, and the icy cool beverages.

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!

alt="Barry's

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)

The Redington/RIO Summer Vacation Package

gear bagA while back someone near and dear picked fun at the fact that I take care of my fly-fishing gear. I described how I wipe down my rods after each outing. They snickered. How I let my reels air dry in the office. They chuckled. That I occasionally clean my lines with a soft, wet sponge. They laughed out loud.

“I don’t ever leave my rigs in the truck over night.”

Cue tumble on the floor, in tears.

You spend a great deal of money on your fly-fishing gear, so I think you should take care of it. Some folks, however, don’t think you actually need to spend that much money on your equipment, nor give it a polish each time it gets within a 100 feet of water. And we are about to find out if they are right.

Introducing the Redington/RIO Summer Vacation Package…

The Redington/Rio Summer Vacation Package

Will it survive? Only a summer will tell.

Mysterious (yet very useful) bundles do at times arrive on my doorstep after I beg like a spoiled child behind closed doors, but this delivery was wholly arranged in advance. It starts with a Redington Torrent 9′ 7-weight, 4-piece, a fine looking stick in shiny, semi-translucent green. Said rod is paired with a Redington Delta 7/8 reel in “smoke” color, and wrapped within is a hefty helping of Rio Grand WF-7-F. Total retail value is just shy of $550. No bad for a setup that could easily be used on salty flats. But it’s going someplace much worse.

We are going to call this a break from tender loving care. A test of value proposition. Or simply the summer of abuse. I’m betting I’ll destroy this equipment in short order; meanwhile the folks at Farbank (Redington & RIO’s parent company) are going all in that the gear will still be pristine operating condition when I return it to them. I won’t purposely try and break anything, but I will let it bake in the truck, won’t clean a thing, may occasionally will often set it on a pile of rocks instead of laying it gently in the grass, and will otherwise fish it as hard as possible. With heavy tippets. For carp. In the urban South Platte drainage and nearby environs.

I’d say odds right now are even, but we all know the target species clearly has the upper hand in this game of precision and skill unadulterated dumb luck – let’s hope this setup is smart, because we know the angler wielding it needs a whole lotta help. Intermittent reports on the rig’s perform and condition will follow, including but not limited to a repetitively photoshopped pic of the carp I catch this season.

MG signing off (to call on the cyprinid wrecking crew)

Carp have arrived. Again.

South Platte InvitationalA long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, it was the Wall Street Journal. Now Chris Santella of the New York Times reminds the incredulous fly angler why the real action can be found right out the back door…

“I like to equate carp fishing with soccer. Around the world, carp is the No. 1 sport fish. A staggering amount of money is spent on carp angling. But here in America, it’s just starting to catch on” [says Kirk Deeter].

This may be true among casual anglers, but many professionals know better. Ask guides on the finest trout streams in the American West what they do on their days off, and they will sheepishly admit that they chase carp.

“There’s a pretty common theme for anglers who get excited about carp,” [Will] Rice said. “They start out fly-fishing for trout, and then take a saltwater trip where they catch bonefish and tarpon. In the course of the saltwater fishing, something clicks about getting bigger fish on the fly. When they get back home and fish for trout again, that big-fish thrill is a little lacking. Then they discover carp.”

Chris Santella is a fine specimen of a human being, but who are these Deeter and Rice chaps?

MG signing off (since I refuse to nymph for carp, although the method can be quite effective in winter)

“Tebowing” Carp Angler Style

It could be that my compadre Will Rice is a rejuvenated Denver Broncos fan, or maybe he’s just a persistently enthusiastic carp fishing fan. Either way, he shows us how it’s done within eyeshot of the Mile High Stadium.

Tebowing for carp

I’ve seen the playbook, but I’ll go no further than to say photo credit goes to Mr. Mitch Palin.

MG signing off (because carp fishing always requires hope and a prayer)