I managed a morning out on the water this past weekend and had a moderately successful time. The fish were all over one of my favorite Columbia river carping locations and the water level is just about perfect right now. There's just enough weeds to attract the fish, but not so many that the fishing becomes impossible.
It has been a few weeks since I've been out in the water, so I found myself, not surprisingly, moving around a little too quickly and excitedly and spooked a good number of fish right off the bat. Fortunately there were plenty of targets. Before long I started running into dust clouds and tails dancing in the water column. After a couple missed fish that caught on to me after a couple of casts, I finally hooked into one from about 15 feet away. It was feeding and I dropped my flies near the dinner plate. When they got close to the bottom, I gave them a quick twitch. The fish picked up his head, flared his gills, and I assumed he'd eaten my flies so I set the hook.
To my surprise he was stuck solidly onto the end of my line and shot off directly out into open water. What seemed like 5-10 minutes later, and was probably about 3 minutes later, he was tired and I got him in close. I took a couple quick photos hoping one was good, and here was the best one.
It's not that great, but it's hard to take a picture of a fish when you're surrounded by weeds, in 2 feet of water, and don't have a net. A quick pull of the fly out of his mouth and he was gone and I was off for the next target. Along the way I stumbled into a couple monsters. Two of them lumbered directly at me and I didn't see them until they were within 20 feet and closing. With the first one I was able to drop my flies from my hand and quickly flick my rod up, which I was trailing behind me. The flies landed a short ways in front of the fish but they sunk too slowly to get to him before he spotted me.
This is my constant dilemma. I don't like to use heavy flies because they splash too much and spook a lot of fish. On the downside it's much more difficult to correctly time slowly sinking flies, and if you don't have much time to get them to a fish you're totally out of luck. I get stuck in this predicament often. It seems to be a bit of a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" sort of thing.
Anyways, I got one shot at a brute. In fact I got about four or five casts at him actively eating, but I just couldn't manage to get it just right. I had to sadly watch him swim away after my many chances when he caught on to me and ambled away.
I managed one more fish on a bit later, but he shot directly into the weeds, then turned into more weeds, and then turned into even more weeds. As I watched him get to at least fifty feet away, all of it through weeds I knew it was over. I held some pressure on the rod, but not a lot in hopes the weeds would slow him down and he wouldn't break off. It wasn't meant to be though, because he did break off.
By this time the sun was directly overhead and it seemed that the fish were becoming more scarce so I ambled off to another section of the cove I hadn't hit yet. On my way over there I got close to a heavy weed bed and decided I was best off shooting up onto shore and skipping it. I walked about twenty feet before at least thirty fish spooked from under the weeds. It gave me a bit of a chuckle; at least I'd found the fish. I continued on and twenty steps later the same thing happened with another pod of thirty-plus fish. I fished for another hour or two and had a couple of slightly positive targets, but no hookups. Mostly the fish I saw and ran into were cruising around pretty quickly and not feeding.
On the way out I tried to walk back through the weed bed and spook the fish a third time and get it on film. On my way into the weeds I spooked a couple individual fish but nothing big. Once I was fifteen feet or so in I stopped and tried stamping on the ground underwater to spook the fish, but it surprisingly didn't work. Then I tried slapping the water, still no. So I gave up on filming, put the camera away, and took three steps toward shore and fifty fish spooked. Figures.
All in all it was a good morning out and I'm looking forward to doing it again, hopefully tomorrow. Have a great long weekend!