Lately Monday evenings have been free for me, I have taken those evenings to be my fishing evenings, exploring and rediscovering fisheries close to home.
Yesterday I returned to a spot I hadn’t seen for over six years. Our current drought began about the same time, so I wasn’t sure what I would find. Fishing reports have been spotty at best, but curiosity got the better of me.
This particular section of the river is the inlet to a lake. In more normal rainfall years, it is a hotspot in the spring for the white bass run. Since the drought turned severe, whites that want to run upriver here need Nike’s and a headband.
I exited the car and was buzzed by a squadron of white-wing doves on their evening sortie. Only one other car was in the parking lot, which was either awesome or foreboding, depending on whether you are a glass full or empty sort.
I struck the trail and walked until I saw water. Even with significant rain in the last week, the river here has been reduced to intermittent pools. Some of the pools are quite long, but in most places fairly shallow.
I hoped to find some bass that would be interested in playing the top-water game, but after frothing the first pool, things were proving to be less than promising.
Moving downstream I saw water being disturbed in half a dozen places. Closer inspection confirmed that carp were rooting in ankle deep water, their backs completely out of the water. I clipped off the small foam bass popper and tied a damselfly with plastic barbell eyes.
I stalked within about ten feet of the carp. Getting close was necessary because they were rooting right up against clumps of grass in the water. I was going to have to put the fly right on their nose to have any chance of getting bit.
My first cast was well behind the carp, just to get the range right. I dropped two casts that were slightly off, but managed not to line or otherwise spook the fish. The murky water helped hide my casting motion.
The third cast dropped right on the money and the carp’s body language immediately became animated as it moved forward quickly and flared pectoral fins. I couldn’t see the take, but came tight on the line based on the fish’s reaction. Several runs later, a nice mirror carp, my first, came to hand.
After releasing the fish, I again looked downstream. At least a dozen similar disturbances in the water could be seen. The die was cast for the evening. Bass were scratched from the lineup, and carp were penciled in as designated hitters.
I continued to stalk as stealthily as possible down the bank, never wading except to land a fish. Casts were short, none more than twenty feet, most about ten. I lined a couple, found a few that I couldn’t get interested, but was able to get a half dozen that accepted an invitation to dance.
I have always been one to want to see what was over the next hill and around the next bend. I continued fishing downstream, curious to find where the lake now began. Dusk closed in on me before I could get there, but left me committed to return and complete my quest.
Night was closing in, and paying heed to the warning sign in the parking lot I hoofed it back before the gates closed “at dark”, (though I suspect the gates get closed before the attendant goes to bed for the night).
I watched the sun go down and color the sky in fiery orange hues that morphed into benign reds and serene purples; changing moment by moment until full darkness took me in and enveloped me like a blanket. My headlights sliced the growing gloom and guided me to the highway. My truck like any good horse, took over and navigated me to the barn, ending a pretty carpy Monday.