Carp: A Love Story – Flathead Beacon

The rom con franchise that is my life as a fly fisher may have finally jumped the shark.

The first installment of the Wind Knot cinematic universe, “Desire For Dry Flies,” was well received. People could relate to the tale of a city boy who finds love fly fishing for tout in wild places.

“Lippin’ Largemouth,” was an obvious sequel.

Like many franchises, however, the well of fresh ideas soon ran dry. “Softy for Sharks,” had its endorphin-producing moments, but really, how long does it make sense to keep prying hooks from the mouths of toothy sea predators just to release them?

Seems like a good way to lose a digit.

Things began to go awry with “Nymphing Nuptials: Dragging Bottom for Hook Ups.” By the time “Guiding for Romance: Finding Love in a 13-Foot Self Bailer,” was finished, there was talk of it going straight to video.

Which brings me to Wind Knot’s jump the shark, or more precisely, jump the carp moment. Fly fishing for carp has become my all-encompassing obsession.

The other day I was fishing in my favorite pothole lake, scooting an olive crayfish pattern along the bottom when two fish moved for it: a 3ish-pound largemouth and a much larger carp. Of course, the bass won, and sadly, I was almost angry when it inhaled the fly and I had to play it in for release.

This interloper behavior is not unusual. I had another large carp seemingly chase my fly the other day, only to watch a 4-inch bluegill race in and mouth my crayfish pattern instead. I love bluegill; salad-plate size fish are a hoot, especially on my 3-weight fly rod. When I’m casting my 8-weight, however, palm-size panfish nicking my fly away from lunker carp are annoying. The bluegill managed to hook itself. I released it, but the carp disappeared and I fumed.

Getting upset about catching fish is not a healthy condition. In fact, it may be a sign you’re not actually fishing, but instead have joined a cult.

This I have learned about carp: they are the most sensitive, fussy gamefish I’ve ever targeted. I’ve placed flies near feeding carp 25-feet away, only to have them spook at the movement of my left hand gently stripping slack out of the line. Sometimes trout might notice movement on the bank, but if you freeze, they seemingly convince themselves you’re a tree and get back to feeding.

Not Carp. I’m certain these fish recognize human form. No matter how still you remain, once they’ve made you, they’re gone.

Then, after a couple weeks of frustration, it happened. I found a pod of aggressive tails-up feeders. Instead of one of my fancy carp flies, I tied on a sparkle-green woolly bugger. As I teased it along the bottom, I watched a carp finhale decisively toward the fly and inhale it. I strip set the hook and it was game on.

It took 10 minutes to land the brute. It didn’t go on any of the epic spool-exposing runs carp are known for, but it also had its way with me for most of that fight. Eventually, I worked it in close enough to net, and after a couple quick photos, the 22-incher was back in the lake.

I wish I could report I’d unlocked some great carp mystery with that fish and I’d been heavy into carp since, but No. 2 has turned out to be as elusive as No. 1. My preferred lake is no help. Carp are often chased in dirty, silty water that makes them a little more approachable and less spooky. Where I fish the water is crystal clear.

Still, one down, with many more to follow. This carp thing is addicting.

Rob Breeding’s website is www.mthookandbullet.com.

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