Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Team Carp Slam

I launched the “Walter Mitty Fly Fishing Contest” to test anglers fish species knowledge and provide an opportunity to get out and have fun during Spring run-off. Although the idea of the contest was very well received, it has apparently been a bit more difficult to complete successfully. To date, I have only had one winner…Cody Burgdorff, a hard core 16-year-old local fly fisherman. ( To learn more about the contest:
Cody finished the 6-species “Mitty” contest on his first try and then began bugging me for something more challenging. So, I told him about the Carp Slam…a thing some of the other fly fishing guides and I would attempt for fun and a good challenge. The rules were always simple, take at least one common carp (on a fly) in three separate public lakes in the course of a single day. It would force us to stay sharp, because once we figured out what the carp were doing at one lake, we would immediately have to leave and head for the next body of water. It is hard…especially if you are trying to pull it off with more than one person. It is best planned ahead what lakes to hit and in what order. It really tests your knowledge of each carp lake. And all good local carp fly fishermen know how different each lake can act on any given day!
Cody was game, even though he had just learned how to fly fish for carp the day before! He was chomping at the bit to give it a try, so I decided to join him and try for a Team Carp Slam. We met in the Front Range Anglers parking lot at 8:00 am on a Wednesday morning and headed out to the First Lake on our list.
8:30 Our rods were strung up and we were on the water …the water at this lake had recently come way up, which was awesome, because all the carp were finally able to move up into the shallows to feed in the now submerged shoreline weeds. The problem, we soon found, was that they were in full on spawn mode! Thrashing and chasing each other and not really showing any interest in eating.
9:10 Cody finally figures out that he has to stand in place, ignoring all the commotion going on around him (if you have never witnessed a massive carp spawn, you can’t really appreciate the concentration it takes to ignore it!). He stays still and watches for one of the carp to separate from the fray and feed. And, bang, first one that does eats his fly!
9:26 Sixteen minutes later I learn my lessons and do the same! My fish is a bit smaller, but that doesn’t matter…it is all about getting a carp to hand! Once mine is released, we immediately head for the truck at a fast trot. Gotta get on the road and on to the second lake!
9:30 As we are speeding down the road in the direction of our second planned lake, which was going to be a bit of a long shot, I had the thought that what we needed right now was a very tiny hole-in-the-wall were we could be almost guaranteed at least one small carp…and I suddenly remembered just such a place! I had not been there in a while, a tiny pond nestled behind a housing complex out of sight from any roads. It only had small fish, so I rarely fished it…but it would be perfect! We flipped a U-turn and headed to the new Second Lake.
9:40 We arrive at Second Lake and find the water very off color, but some “nervous water” lets us know there are some active carp around.
9:52 Cody hooks up on a fish, I drop my rod and rush over (camera at the ready) but he comes unbuttoned! Fish off! We both have a groan and continue fishing.
10:04 Bang! Both Cody and I hook up at the same time. I land mine quick, release the fish and jump over to get a good shot of Cody’s second carp of the day.
10:16 I am disappointed that I was not able to get a photo of my fish, so I quick whack another and Cody gets the shot…sweet! We debate for a minute if we should stay and fish pond we are at for a while longer…just ‘cause it is fishing so well. But, in the end, we decide that would be getting cocky and that we should get going to the last lake and try to wrap this Carp Slam up before the wind picks up or something else ruins the fishing and our chances. Good idea because it is a 25 minute drive to the Third Lake and the morning is pissing away fast.
11:01 Cody spots a good carp in close, feeding along some shore-line rocks within ten minutes of arriving at Third Lake. He puts his fly out…strips it in front of the carp and hooks up! Another nice fish! Cody has his part of the Carp Slam complete! Now it is my turn to wrap it up…
11:30 I am beginning to get nervous… This lake had been fishing very well the day before, but now we have not seen another carp in half an hour.
11:34 I hook up on a big fish…I fight him hard and beech him and we are ready to start celebrating…but I look down and notice the fish has been foul hooked. Big bummer…hooked on the side of the face. Doesn’t count!
12:03 I finally spot a lone carp in close feeding and make the right cast. Fish on! It is a smaller carp, so I get him in fast…but it is a wrap! We did it! TEAM CARP SLAM! Wrapped up in four hours!
12:08 Cody and I relies we were both using the exact same fly all morning! A wine colored Backstabber Carp Fly! Too cool!

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