Rocky Mountain Bones, Poorman’s Permit, Delta Goldens…
A friend and I were talking the other day about steelhead fishing and trout fishing, two subjects that too often accompany each other into the same conversation between us. We were rambling on about the frustration of rejections and refusals experienced while fishing dry flies. A big rainbow rises 6 feet from the bottom, calmly inspects your fly, then with no care in the world about your feelings, says, “no thanks”. And you watched the whole thing, patiently anticipating the take, ready for the hook-set only to watch the fish snub your fly at the last minute. Roosterfish have got to be the quintessence of rejection. They will chase your fly at lightning speeds for 75 feet, fins up, gills flared, blood-thirsty and ticked off, yet turn away at the last second, literally beaching themselves in pursuit of a fly they could have taken at any time… had they wanted to.
Then there are carp. The bottom feeding “trash fish” widely distributed throughout the world. Kids use worms to catch them in irrigation ditches and farm ponds. 9 to 5’ers hand feed them corn and bread crumbs during their lunch hour.
The local carp have not been rejecting or refusing my flies over the last few months at all. They’ve been flat-out ignoring them. The same suggestive patterns and presentations that were so successful last year have not even raised an eyebrow recently. And it’s not as if they haven’t given me plenty of shots. This brought me to seining the water and mud which turned up some interesting potential food items I’d been overlooking.
Saturday was finally the break in a long dry spell (the fishing, obviously not the weather). The first fish was a scrappy 6 pounder that immediately swam in three tight circles upon being hooked, confused, and not sure which way to go. Then, once oriented, it blasted for the pond’s outlet, through the channel and out into the bigger pond. The 15 pounder wasn’t nearly as scrappy but had that very determined, “I’ll go where ever I want”, attitude. I found myself trudging through cattails, and knee deep mud following him from one pond to the next, hoping he would eventually bring me to a place I stood half a chance at landing him.
At one point he had me wrapped around something back in an undercut bank. I thought for sure I’d lose him. I loosened my drag and just let him take as much line as he wanted as I used my leg & foot in the waist-deep water to try and unwrap the line from what ever it was on. When it did finally come free, it turned out the fish was on the other side of the pond. After a total of probably 30+ minutes (what felt like 2 hours) I actually did get him to topple over.
I went back Sunday afternoon armed with plenty of fresh tied flies (now that I had it all figured out) and over the course of 4 hours under identical conditions as the previous day, I never saw a fish. Saturday I’d seen a couple dozen.