For most of the summer I have been religiously pounding the shorelines out here in Oregon. Well, maybe "religiously" is a bit of an overstatement, but I've been out quite a few times now. I'm brand new to carping in the rivers, and pretty new to the Portland area so specific information on locations has been a bit lacking. And the frustration mounted early in the year when I was trying to find places that were fishable. It seemed like everywhere I went the waters were shoulder high at the edge of the shoreline trees, and thus pretty much unfishable without scuba gear.
After a couple outings involving more driving than fishing and a few outings of wandering some flats with very low visibility and cloudy skies, the frustration became insurmountable. So I headed out to some still waters I had fished a bit the year before, where the frustration became intolerable. Cows were everywhere and the water visibility was less than one inch. There were carp rummaging around so I could at least target casts, but once the line was cast I was totally blind. I ended up hooking and losing a couple and catching one, but it felt like more luck than skill.
Then came some travels and other commitments so that I couldn't fish for a few weeks, and thus caught no fish. Finally I had some time, plenty of time, over Labor Day weekend. I headed out to the water Sunday after completing all my chores on Saturday, and I chose to go back to one of the first spots I had checked out early in the year in much much higher water. I was greeted by a shoreline packed with salmon anglers. I guess it's that time of year again. It was a bit irksome, but they were all stacked up along a steeper section of water I wouldn't have wanted to fish anyways, so I headed downstream and it wasn't long before I was seeing fish.
The first few (or more than a few) I spooked or otherwise screwed up, then came a bit of success. I saw one cruising fish and made a cast out ahead of him and got lucky to intersect his pseudo-random path. When he reached where my flies should be he stopped and pointed his head down. I was a bit flustered since it was my first obvious eat on the Columbia, but I set the hook and we were off! And then the fish was off. I don't know what happened by he came unbuttoned just as quickly as the take.
But not to be discouraged, this was a large improvement over past outings so I continued on along the river. It wasn't long before I found more fish to spook. One group in particular didn't seem to be doing much, but one carp was hanging off the back of the pod so I figured I may as well give him a go and see if I can spook him off. So I cast out in front of him just enough for the flies to sink in front of his face. A few seconds later I saw him jerk to the left, and I immediately thought, "great, spooked him by draping my leader across him." But I know that hooksets are free so I set the hook anyways. There was something solid on the other end of the line and my next automatic thought was, "great, and I snagged the bottom. Spooked fish and lost flies." Then the fish shot out toward the center of the river and my line went with him and pulled a smile up onto my face. Finally. All those days on the river this year are beginning to pay me back, just like that pile of 18 partially stamped rewards cards in my wallet will also someday.
My drag was pretty low so I cranked it up and the fish kept on going. And going. And going. I sat there watching the line peel off my reel waiting to see the bright orange backing go shooting through the guides for the first time. Then the fish slowed, and with 2 wraps of fly line on the reel he stopped gaining ground and I was able to start reeling him back in. I never fully got to the backing, but he took a couple more runs before I was able to get him in the shallows and grab his tail (after realizing my big net is still way too small for carp).
I snapped a few pictures, one of which somehow came out completely white, one is way out of focus, one has a big water spot on it, and the only good one is just the fish by my rod, but I'll take it. I took a quick weight with an old rusty scale I found on a river bank a while back and revived him in the water and watched him swim away. Weight guesses welcome. Make sure to account for an old rusty scale.
Not much else happened that day. The fish seemed to turn off as afternoon progressed.