Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Closing up shop.

Sort of.

I'm not sure about the best way to do this, so I'm just going to rip the scab off and be done.

I have decided to shut the Finewater blog down. Finewater was started several years ago by me and another troutbum, Geoff Bragg. We were hardcore trout guys, spending days and occasionally weeks chasing wild trout on mountain streams in Tennessee and Georgia.  Geoff has since matured into a responsible adult with a mortgage and a picket fence. He rarely posts here now. I on the other hand have evolved, or devolved depending on who you ask, into a diehard carp angler.

Maybe it's just me, but a carp blog called "Finewater" seems a bit incongruous. In any case, I've never been able to reconcile those two things in my head. To make matters worse, I've had this idea bouncing around in my head for awhile about Carp Aficionado. So I guess the fall of Finewater was inevitable, as was the rise of this new blog:

Not to worry. I promise to maintain my usual rigorous standard of posting content with little or no value. I truly hope the handful of folks that follow Finewater will follow me over to Carp Aficionado.

I'll have a link for Finewater at the top of the Carp Aficionado home page. You know, so we can reminisce about old times and such.

But from this point forward, I'll be posting over at Carp Aficionado.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Woven nymphs for carp

The problem with fishing small nymphs for carp is that sink rates for these flies are often too slow. A slow sink rate can be an advantage with carp, but lately I have found myself in scenarios where the nymph drifted harmlessly above the carp's head because it just didn't sink quickly, causing me to then hazard another cast  to get the fly further upstream and allow more sink time before it got to the fish.

This not an issue with a larger carp fly, wherein bead-chain eyes and the weight of a few rubber legs drop the thing like a stone to the muck. The best you can hope for with a small nymph is maybe a few wraps of lead around the shank before you dub and/or a beadhead. And since I don't like using beadheads on my flies, I'm doubly screwed on this front.

Which is why I started thinking about woven nymphs. These flies are dense, heavy, and designed to sink like stones. In other words, exactly what I am looking for. I also like the two-tone color pattern with woven nymphs. You can make the belly of the fly a light color and the back a darker hue as is often seen with natural bugs. Also, these are typically tied with embroidery thread, so available colors are endless.

Bottom view

Top view

Here is a link to an excellent video tutorial on tying these cool flies.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Michigan - 2 days, 1 carp, 0 tetanus shots

Day 1 - Torpedoes

I have come to the infamous Toilet Bowl stretch of a certain carp-infested Michigan river with the equally infamous Miles. As you might guess, this water is not what you would call pristine. I think "extremely degraded" was the term I saw in an article describing this area.

It's snowing. Or rather it has snowed and is snowing some more, a thing that I would normally piss and moan about except that I'm distracted by the large torpedo-shaped shadows slowly cruising the edges of the Toilet Bowl.  Carp.  Big ones. And, it goes without saying, tough. These fish are no push-overs.

Accordingly there was a beat-down, with the carp doing the beating. We only recorded one take between the two of us. Miles stuck a nice fish that promptly broke him off and that was that. My only action of the day was a foul-hooked mirror carp that broke my 9 weight.

If there was good news, it was that neither of us had to run The Gauntlet.  That would come on Day 2.

Day 2 - The Gauntlet

Carp at the Toilet Bowl hang out in a hole that is largely inaccessible, meaning there's no place to land them once hooked. When you stick a carp here, you must make your way to the other side of the river to land him. To accomplish this, you climb a flight of stairs, traverse the 200 ft cat-walk that spans the river, dodging joggers, hikers, etc. along the way while at the same time maneuvering the rod and line up, over and through various obstacles including - I am not making this up - a building. Once you have lifted/finagled your line around these obstacles, then you can make your way down a steep (and extremely slick I discovered) hill to stand among a jumble of break-ankle boulders and land your fish, who has been waiting patiently out in the middle of the river for you to run this gauntlet.  The Gauntlet.

Day 2 is a solo day for me, Miles having previous obligations. Given the beating on Day 1, I changed tactics and took a more subtle approach. I added three feet of 8lb flourocarbon tippet to my leader and tied on a #10 unweighted hare's ear rather than the larger, heavier flies we used the previous day.

It worked. I put the hare's ear above and ahead of a cruising carp, where the current brought it to him. I couldn't see the fly, but when the carp turned suddenly I set the hook. A heavy weight throbbed up through the line and it was at this point that I truly began to consider the challenges of The Gauntlet. It was also at this point that I noticed that the upper two feet of my 7 wt. was missing. At first I thought the TB had claimed another rod in addition to the broken 9 wt from Day 1. However closer inspection revealed the rod was not broken. The tip section had apparently come loose and simply slid down the line when the big carp bent the rod double.

I'll spare you the complete play-by-play, but here are several things that occurred in the ensuing minutes after the initial hook-up:

-The fly rod, its length now reduced by two feet, was not long enough to work the line around the obstacles of The Gauntlet. I got around this by feeding the carp slack and allowing him to run far, far out into the middle of the river. This increased the angle of the line to the rod so that I could, barely, lift the line over the obstacles as I crossed the cat-walk.

-Getting the line over the final hurdle, the building, required multiple trips up and down the aforementioned steep snow-covered hill, working line along the roof a few inches at a time. I fell down a lot during this. A lot. Several passers-by stopped to watch. Some didn't stop at all and quickened their pace, apparently not comfortable in the presence of a frenzied madman wielding 3 pieces of a four piece fly rod.

-I finally freed the line and began working the fish in. Amazingly, the tip section of the rod had somehow worked itself back up the line and was now frozen to the long length of line bobbing in the air between me and the point where it entered the water. Eventually it came within arms length and I reattached it to the rod, finishing the fight from there.

-I landed the fish - see below. Behind me in the distance, on the other side of the river, you can see the opening to a culvert (or Poop Chute as Miles calls it) that dumps into the Toilet Bowl. I hooked this fish a few feet in front of that culvert. We came a long way together baby.

Epilogue -

The next day, on my way back to Georgia, I get a text from Miles - "1st cast. Got one. In the chute. I'll send a pic." Here's what he sent. Nice.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dry/Dropper - alternative set-up

I suspect Dan and Jay may be on to something in their comments on this previous post. So I've been looking for an alternative rigging for the dry/dropper combo and found the below video. Hopefully this will result in fewer misses on the dry fly since the nymph dropper is not tied to the hook bend of the dry as with the traditional rig that I've been using.

In any case, I've noticed I get a little queasy when I'm tying that dropper on to the dry fly hook. I realize now that I don't trust it. A trout taking a dropped nymph is one thing, but a carp is an entirely different ball game. I can't get past the feeling that I'm asking for trouble. The below appears to be potentially a better alternative:

Monday, December 24, 2012

Once more, with reeling.

I thought 2012 was done. But then I got inspired. One final visit to City Lake today, despite my misgivings about the overcast skies and the front-driven winds roiling the water on the main body of the lake.  Went to a favorite flat that is often sheltered from the wind by surrounding ridges. For the first time this fall, my feet went numb while I was wading around. It eventually gets cold even in Georgia.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Winding down. Maybe.

Northwest Georgia received a significant amount of rain this weekend, around 2 inches by some counts.

Multi-day rain events around here often bring the carp up into the shallows.  No news there, of course. That happens in a lot of places, and not just with carp.  The prevailing theory seems to be that the rain washes a few more food items into the buffet as it scours the shoreline and drains into the lake.

Rivulets draining from far up the shoreline and into the lake.

I'll buy that, if for no other reason than after heavy rains I often see carp in places where they usually aren't found, nosed up tight to the water's edge and in serious feeding mode.

Like yesterday. The carp were on a flat that, for whatever reason, is typically not on their scheduled daily rounds. I have, for example, searched this flat thoroughly over the past couple of weeks, seeing no carp. Not one. Then yesterday, following the deluge, they were there.

And I caught them. Not all of them but enough to count the day as an unexpected late-fall bonanza.

As I landed these fish, I realized that there is a good chance that these were my last carp of 2012 and felt, weirdly, a twinge of sadness. If you're not careful you can get sentimental about that sort of thing, as if a December carp is somehow more significant than, say, a February carp.

Still, I took a few extra seconds to admire these fish. They may or may not be my final carp of 2012, but I couldn't overcome the urge to savor them just a bit.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Even more epic-er than I thought

I knew that the fly fishing issue of USCARPPRO magazine would be really good, but I am, to be honest, stunned at the variety and extreme quality of the content.  Here's the table of contents:

Wow.  I'm very grateful to have a short piece in this issue, but I realized I was running with some pretty fast company when I scanned through that author list. Tons of good info by several carping legends in there.

And it's free. All you have to do is click on the photo below and start reading.