I slapped on the SPF 15, pulled the mountain bike out of the closet, inflated the tires, lubed the chain, grabbed the camera, and headed for the carp ponds.
It had been a few months since I’d checked them out and those last few times were rather depressing considering the waterless wasteland the city had left behind in their valiant efforts of fending off the WNV (West Nile Virus).
I wasn’t really expecting to find any fish, or even water for that matter, so I left the 7 weight at home and decided to just go for a look…
…I had a list of places I wanted to check out in hopes that a pond or two hadn’t been drained and all those carp had some how found a new home. I doubted it though and figured if I did happen to find any fish I’d come back tomorrow – with stripping bucket in place and rod in hand.
When I got to the first series of ponds it was just as bad as I was afraid of. The water was nearly non-existent and what was there was either pea-soup with zero visibility or chocolate milk with only an inch or two at best. A myriad of new “roads” had been laid where the city’s MAV’s (Mosquito Assault Vehicles) had flattened tules and filled in what were waterways.
I peddled around for a while and took some pictures.
Kind of speaks for itself doesn’t it
This is the same spot as above, taken last year at this time
Remember this shot from last year’s post
Here it is now
And that shot from last May’s post with Brandon sneaking up on a rooter
After seeing enough I headed out and was planning to drive to another spot in hopes that its ponds had recovered better from last year’s mosquito assault. Just before leaving, on a whim, I took a turn to peek in on one more pond that rarely had fish in the past and is usually too dirty to fish anyway. A comment Brandon had made earlier on the phone was in the back of my head, “they had to go somewhere”…
Low and behold, carp tails were waving everywhere! The water was dirty, with barely 2 inches of visibility, but there were enough feeding fish in close enough to shore to warrant the speeding ticket I’d likely get on my 100mph drive home to get my rod. I’ve changed some lines on reels awful fast in the past, but I think this was a new record. 30 minutes later rigged, ready, and thankfully ticketless, I’m back. As to be expected all but a few tails out in the middle of the pond were gone. As I approached the downwind corner of the pond I began seeing fins. When the water is only 18” deep and you can only occasionally see the submerged fin of a feeding fish you know the water is dirty. I had ~30 minutes of action casting to feeders but they were in there so thick that all the scale-plucking foul-hooking eventually cleared them out. The wind picked up and I decided I’d come back the next day a few hours earlier.
The next day I headed back out with some newly tied flies for the dirty water that were hopefully less prone to foul-hooking. Two hours earlier than yesterday and the wind was already howling.
On one side the wind destroys your presentation, on the other side, it allows you to get right on top of the fish without spooking them
The fish weren’t nearly as apparent as the day before, but standing in one spot long enough gave me plenty of opportunities to drop my fly in front of cruisers. Eventually one picked it up and it was on! Man can those things tear up a 7 weight! Tonight I’m still in awe at how quickly an 11 pound carp can clear the fly line and a good chunk of backing in water so dirty!
The tail on this guy was unreal!
After retrieving ALOT of line from the initial run across the pond, and with him almost to the net, he decided to blast the backing knot back out the guides once more, this time right down the shoreline, effectively notifying all his buddies to head for the deep.
There wasn’t much room for debate on whether this guy “took” the fly
After that I took a walk around the back of the pond to rest the fish in hopes that they’d return. An hour later I came back and they were no longer rooting on the bottom. Instead, 3 or 4 of them were taking midges… OFF THE SURFACE! I couldn’t believe it, they were clooping! In muddy water and near white-cap conditions at that! And where were my dries… at home of course…
I love the little guys, unfortunately this one didn’t voluntarily take the fly
This shot was as I was leaving the first day, before I found fish. I was just taking a shot of the pea-soup water when all of a sudden a cruiser comes accross. I didn’t even know I’d got the picture until I got home