Friday, June 29, 2007

Unsettled Weather - Slow Carping

No reports for ten days, but it's not because I haven't been fishing. I've been out twice. Once was a skunk. The other was today. I debated going today as the weather report was for rain showers and wind all day and that's pretty much the way it turned out. I had to really work for the fish but I ended up with an 8 pounder. I'll blame the lack of further success on the weather, I guess. No fish in the shallows (that I could see) nearly all day. Then about 6PM I saw a couple of mud clouds and cast to one of them. Immediately I felt a resistance and set the hook. The fish bolted out of the cove I was in, taking my fly line and a good bit of backing. Once I put the wood to him with the 8 weight though, the battle was wrapped up fairly soon. Not a bad performance. Only wish I could have hooked a few more. Being the end of June I figured the carp spawn was over. However, I saw six different pods of fish swimming in circles out over deep water exhibiting the characteristics of spawning that I saw in fish throughout May. Are these late spawners? Is this some other behavior? At this point I have no idea. Here's the fish, which I released after posing.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Essence of Fly Fishing for Carp

Of all the carp fly fishermen I know, fellow Oregonian John Bartlett, AKA John Montana, has caught the essence of the sport of carp on the fly in the greatest way. Recently John did an interview for American Carper Magazine (online) and they ran it in their April 2007 edition. What a great read! The file is a PDF and you must download the entire magazine issue to read the article, but its worth it. Once you have downloaded it go straight to page 26 and enjoy!

The John Bartlett Interview

John also has a blog online at:

Carp on the fly


Monday, June 18, 2007

Monday Fishing Trip

I had the day off today and spent the second half of it carping. Not a fantastic day but I did manage a couple of fish. The first one was a picture perfect carp hookup - the way things ought to work. I walked quietly and slowly along the edge of a nice flat until I spotted a tail waving about 15 feet from the edge of the water. I cast just beyond the spot where I figured the fish's nose would be and let the fly settle. Then as I started inching it along the bottom, though I couldn't see the fish, I felt the line tighten and set the hook. The fish was hooked perfectly. I was using one of my six weights this time so the ten pound fish was able to make a pretty good showing for himself.

Here is a head shot of the same fish. You can see the fly in the top of its mouth. This fish was special because I've been trying to figure out how to better feel a pickup when I cannot see the fish take the fly. Today I tried my six weight Cortland Camo Intermediate line, thinking that it might give me a better connection and feel. When I hooked this fish I figured, "Perfect. This is going to be the solution." However, I didn't get many more opportunities before the wind came up and the fish moved out of the area.

The release.

I did manage one more fish later in the day, still using the Intermediate line. This one was caught totally blind as I didn't spot the fish first. I was just randomly casting through an area that I thought might hold some fish - not a high percentage game. This one was small - 5 1/2 pounds.
The fly of the day was a yellow nymph with rubber legs and small dumbell eyes. I've done well on the color yellow in this lake before. Not a good picture, but here is a shot of the fly. This camera does not do well with closeups.

Here's a shot showing the wind I've come to expect in this spot in the afternoon.

I'll continue to use the six weight as I experiment with the Intermediate line. If this proves to work better than a floating line, I'll buy one for the seven weight that I usually fish.


Friday, June 15, 2007

Windy, Partly Cloudy Carping

I had a few afternoon hours to spare today so I went carping. It's much closer (distance wise) than some of the other fishing I like to do. It was another day when it was very difficult to see into the water. I did manage two fish. This one, which went 5 pounds:

And this one, which went 6 pounds.

The pictures were taken with my time release camera on a portable tripod. I just set it up in the area I fished and when I caught one, I carried it in the net to the spot that was set up. Both fish were released unharmed.

Earlier this year, when carp were spawning in this area, quite a few fish made their way up this ditch. I checked it again today but there was nothing there.

I made it home in time for supper and an early bedtime.


Friday, June 8, 2007

Warm, Sunny Carping Today

I did some carping today. Explored the river that I mentioned in my last trip. It is full of carp but many of them are on the smaller side. By that I mean 2-4 pounds. I discovered this barrier dam early in the day. Standing on the cement sides I could spot maybe 20 carp lying in various spots in the pool in the slacker water. I tried to position myself to work the area but it turned out to be tougher than I expected. I ended up with only one small carp about 3 pounds.

Here is a pic of the fish. After seeing that net full and overflowing with larger carp, that little one looks kind of dwarfed.

I moved up the river to the barrier spot were I was on the last trip. The fish were still there. I hooked another about 3 pounds and released him. Other carp were visible tailing but all looked about the same size. I decided to head for the lake. The carp were working the flats and it wasn't long until I hooked up.

These fish are consistently larger than the ones in the river. It's hard to leave this place! Here's a 6 1/2 pounder that I caught.

And here's a 5 1/2. This one was a really hard fighter - more so than even the larger ones I caught.

No really big ones today. I ended up with 2 @ 3 lbs, 1 @ 5 1/2 lbs, 1 @ 6 1/2 lbs., and 2 @ 7 1/2 lbs. Had some trouble with my camera so I didn't get pics of all the fish. Got to see some new country and found a couple of spots to check out on future trips. All in all it was a good day.

"Do You Fish for Anything Besides Carp?"

Yup. I like to fish for nearly every kind of freshwater fish. But carping has nearly taken over my interest because they are a challenge and they are BIG.

Here are a few of reports of other fishing I've done. These were all before I discovered flyrod carping.


Thursday, June 7, 2007

May Carping Review

As mentioned in my last post below, I did some successful carp fishing this year before I had this blog. Rather than reproduce accounts of those fish here, I'll include links below to writups I did on these trips on a couple of forums I frequent. Clicking on them will take you away from my blog so be sure to come back.

I was on a one week vacation in early May and had most of the week to devote to carping. Here are the links:

When I Grow Up I Want to be Like John Montana

Recent Carping Days #1

Recent Carping Days #2

Recent Carping Days #3

Recent Carping Days #4


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

April Carping Review

I've had some great carp fishing days in April and May of this year. I wasn't blogging then, of course, so here is a report from my fishing log from...

April 20, 2007

I got out for awhile today. The weather was beautiful! 60 degrees. Light breeze. High sun. Lots of carp in the shallows. Some big ones, too. I arrived at my favorite flat (the main one in the entire lake) and saw about 15 carp scattered across the span. I carefully stalked to within casting range. Just as I was stripping line from my reel to cast a large flock of geese spooked across the pond. There must have been 200 of them and they headed right for me. Needless to say, as all their honking got louder and louder and they passed directly overhead at about telephone pole height, all the places where I had seen fish were now just mud trails. Not a fish left in sight. I left the area to give it a rest. When I returned three girls on bicycles were throwing rocks in the water. (Sigh. No school today.) I left again and moved around the pond to the other side, returning in about an hour. When I did the kids were gone and a few fish had moved back in. This time I got off a few casts. This 10 pound hen took it right away.

I landed another that was about 6 pounds later in the day on a rust colored rubber legged Clouser Swimming Nymph but was mobbed by a group of kids on bicycles who wanted to know all about the fish, so I didn't get a picture. Needless to say, they were impressed. One kid kept telling the others that his dad was a fly fisherman and if he were here he would catch a bunch of those fish.

There is a pic of the Clouser Swimming Nymph on Wendy Berrell's blog. I've added orange rubber legs since that photo was taken.Anyway, as the warm days increase, I hope to have many more days like this - or better. Hope you do, too.


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

"Why Do You Fish for Carp?"

To begin, I don't just fish for carp. I fish for BIG carp. Does that help you understand the motivation? I fish for carp because carp get BIG - really big - and because there is seldom any competition from other anglers in the areas I fish. In fact, I imagine that most freshwater flyrodders don't get to do battle with really BIG fish very often - some not at all. A four or five pound trout or bass is an exceptional fish. A ten pounder is the fish of a lifetime. I catch fish like that on nearly every trip unless I'm scouting. And there is always the opportunity for a fish in the 15 to 20 pound range.

And these fish fight long and hard. I get to see my bright orange flyline backing multiple times on each trip. In a lake especially, or a big river where a BIG carp has room to run, you'd better have 100+ yards of backing because you'll need it if you want to see your flyline again. If you fish for them in an area where they've had enough years to get really big, you'd better leave your wimpy five and six weight at home - that is unless you want to make your two piece Sage a three piece or your four piece Scott a five.

"But carp are ugly!" you say. Well, beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder. I recently had a friend show me a five man limit of Sturgeon caught on the Columbia here in Oregon. The smaller ones were as long as your leg and well... they were ugly. Yet these guys paid $175 each to hire a guide and a boat half a day to catch them. My friend told me it was a trip of a lifetime. I can understand his rationale. Then there are guys who catch sharks. Talk about ugly! And scary, too. And did you know that fishermen used to call those bonefish people people pay thousands of dollars to catch in places like the Bahamas... did you know they used to call them "fresh water suckers?"

OK, OK. Maybe I won't convert anyone to carping. So far I've had more people turn up their noses than take a genuine interest. But hey, that's OK with me. I'll have that many more uneducated fish swimming in my favorite waters.

So how BIG do carp get? I think the world record is 70+ pounds. Generally though, in my part of the world, a 20 pounder is big and a 30 pounder is really BIG. I haven't caught a 30 yet, but I've come close. The fish in the picture above was 28 pounds.

Then there is this one, caught about a week later in the same spot. Exactly 28 pounds. But I have a confession to make...

After releasing the fish, when I got the photos home and began to compare I discovered by seeing several distinct markings that I had caught the same fish twice! (Could there be a better testimony for catch and release?) Some other carpers I know encouraged me to name the fish, citing an English custom of naming fish that have been caught multiple times. At the suggestion of another crazed carper (thanks, MrP.) I named this one "Lightning" because I learned, after a long, tough battle, that lightning does sometimes strike twice in the same place. And he/she is still out there. Maybe I'll let things move along so that this fish gains a few more pounds. Then I'll get the 30. Hehehe.

Go ahead and turn up you nose if you wish. I'm OK with it. Leave the fish alone. Leave them for me and those select few who have discovered a brave new, nearly untouched fishing world - the world of carping.


Monday, June 4, 2007

Windy, Cloudy Carp Fishing Today

I spent the second half of today chasing one of my favorite fish - the common carp. As I flyfish most of the time, flyrodding is my chosen method for these fish. I caught my first carp on the fly in September of 2006 so I'm still fairly new at this. Having flyfished for over 40 years and caught thousands of bass and trout, along with a fair number of steelhead, shad, bluegills, crappies, and perhaps a few assorted bullheads and other fish I figured that carp on the fly would be a piece of cake. Not so. Those buggers are hard to fool with feathers and a hook!

I fished a favorite lake today and caught only two fish - the tiny three pounder above and this more respectable nine pounder. The wind was blowing hard and it was cloudy so spotting fish was impossible. Under such prohibitive cirumstances I sometimes sweeten my fly with a little bit of crawfish scent or even a tiny bit of bait. This allows the fish to hang on just a little longer before rejecting my offering.

I left the lake early to go check out a local river that I've had my eye on for a few weeks. It's very small and quite murky - and just loaded with carp. Most of the ones I've seen look to be between 3 and 6 pounds. There are probably some larger ones present and with time I hope to find them. Today I fished a short stretch that had fair bank access. The carp were there and willing. I ended up landing 5 additional fish from 2 to 5 pounds. I usually fish a 7 weight fly rod but had brought my 8 weight this trip because I've hooked some large fish at the lake recently. When I return to this river spot I'll bring either the 6 or the 7.

The remarkable thing I noted today was that the carp were attempting to jump a barrier in the river. On six or eight occasions I spotted them jumping completly out of the water toward the little dam. They looked more like salmon than carp. As I've never fished a river for carp before I don't know if this is common behavior. I tried to get a picture of the jumpers but you know how that sort of thing goes. You hold and hold and hold, then just when you lower your camera, one jumps. Anyway, no fish jump shots but here is a picture of the barrier.

I'll be back to this river spot. It looks very promising. Since so few people ever fish for carp in my part of the world, I'll have it all to myself to explore.

A face only a crazed carp fisherman could love!


A Humble Beginning

With this post I begin my humble fishing blog. Zonker is my handle, stage name, moniker, nickname, or whatever else requires an alias. I haven't decided whether I'll include a profile of my real info. For now all I'll say is that I live in Western Oregon, USA. My intention with this blog is to post the records of my fishing trips. These take place mostly in my own area, within driving distance of my home. If you happen by I welcome you to browse but I'll try not to reveal my fishing spots in such a way that hundreds can see and exploit them. So please, don't ask. I welcome you to go find your own. Besides, if you found out the location of my secret spots I'd have to kill you. :-)

Most of the fish you see here have been caught and released to fight again. I make few exceptions to this. I like to eat fish but I enjoy catching them even more, so I'll usually make every effort to return them to the water, able to recover quickly from the fight. I'm glad to see many other anglers doing the same.

I fish by myself mostly, though occasionally with a friend or with my grandchildren. The photos, of necessity, are usually self generated. I either take them with the fish lying on a grassy spot or set up my camera on a portable tripod in an area I'm fishing and use the timed shutter function. I'm just an average guy who uses a mostly automatic camera so take that into consideration as you judge the pictures. Occasionally I'll get a lousy picture or a really big fish. If that happens I'll usually post it anyway, preferring a bad pic of a good fish to no pic of a good fish. This is a fishing blog, not a photography blog.

This first month of June, 2007 I intend to post some of the trips I've taken this spring - at least the successful ones. Like all anglers, sometimes I get skunked. Then sometimes I do really well.