Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Best Carp Flies: How To Tie And Fish Them

"Carp are the fly rodder's ultimate gamefish. This is the first comprehensive book on tying the best flies for carp, featuring patterns and techniques from anglers around the United States. With over 600 step-by-step photos and over 20 patterns by tiers ranging from Barry Reynolds to Bob Clouser to author Jay Zimmerman, including fishing information, this book is the definitive fly-tying resource for those who love the challenge of fooling carp on the fly."

Get your copy! ORDER

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Best Fly Shop In The Country...?

The Gink and Gasoline Fly Shop 500

Follow the link and vote for your favorite fly shop! If you are a fly tier who has used one of Craven's books, been in one of his classes, been to the shop in Arvada, or ordered materials from his shop ( or used his free online tutorials...VOTE FOR PEDRO! I mean CHARLIES FLY BOX!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Warm Water Fishing is Heating Up!

Many of the rivers here in Colorado are high and flush with runoff, making for poor trout fishing, so many anglers are turning to the warm water venues for the time being. I spend most of the Spring season chasing the non-trouts regardless of the flows. However, some of my favorite carp reservoirs have been taking on so much cold run-off water that the local carp fishing has been put on ice, so to speak. This forces me to switch it up a bit and search out some of my other favorite game fish...

We had several items on the agenda this morning--the most important was to find some fish. I did have a brand new eight weight rod that needed to be dirtied up and Eva (my sister) is in town and anxious to try her hand at pike fishing. Erin and I figured we could take care of both of these chores at the same time! The three of us rose well before dawn, with rods already strung (and locked in a spare room away from the cats) and assaulted the line (of cattails).

The water had gotten a bit too warm for the pike fishing to be fantastic, but we all landed a few. I managed to scrounge out a pretty decent bass once the sun came up, which was the highlight of my morning. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Brown Water Got Ya Blue?

Runoff is getting ready to kick into the serious gear any day now. What did you expect with massive snow pack and hot May days? The Arkansas has been fishing fantastic...until Blown. Sorry. Now you have no more excuses. You have been threatening to go out and learn to carp fish for a couple years now, but have never quite gotten around to it. Stop making noise about it and actually do something about it. They get big, will test your skills and tackle...I promise. But, if you are too scared, that's cool. You will look like a first-year hack I guarantee it, but you will be twice the fly angler by the end of runoff. 
Here are just two of the several nice common carp we landed on Sunday. All sight fishing. Took plenty of backing (seriously, when was the last time you saw your backing while fishing here in Colorado?) Some of these big guys even jumped a few times!

Friday, May 2, 2014


When I fished commercially we called any species that was caught unintentionally while hunting for a certain target species bycatch. I worked as a halibut longliner in the waters around Kodiak and Afognak Islands and the primary bycatch was grey cod. The cod is a nasty fish with soft white meat that turns into the a stinky paste-like substance when handled. If you have ever ordered fish-n-chips at a restaurant here in Colorado that is what you ate, sorry to break it to ya... Gutted cod went for fifty cents a pound back then so it was pretty easy and lucrative, as halibut was only going for about $2.00 a pound. The other bycatch (ling cod, eel, octopus and what-not) was just turned around and used as bait on the next mornings set. 

But that was another lifetime ago...

Now I am a born-again catch and release fly angler. I guess it is atonement for my past, not that I have any guilt. I still hit Wholefoods in Boulder on Fridays when the fresh fish is coming in. I may not be a saved man, just a hypocrite. None the less, it is funny to listen to the landlocked young blokes behind the seafood counter spout forth handed-down knowledge and strut about in their very new looking orange bibs and Xtra Tufs. I smile and say nothing as I am an asshole, but certainly not a d-bag.

Now my bycatch is whatever I did not set out to find, which is ever-changing. I do my best to mix things up as much as possible to keep things interesting. I try to let the season and the weather dictate what I do, with the hope that this will increase my odds of a good day. It is my way of "standing on a soft seventeen", but like in Blackjack this only increases the odds slightly. We gamblers and fishermen put great stock in slight odds.  Today Erin, Banjo and I went on the search for some largemouth bass, but after a few hours of driving about and checking on (casting blindly into) some of our favorite spots, we were coming up bass-less. There were some juvenile carp around that ate willingly, but that was bycatch. It is funny, when actively carping we call it getting "bass blocked" when a bass zips over and steals your carp fly. It is usually a bummer, especially if the spoiled cast was made to a good-sized carp. After awhile we decided that bass fishing was just not in the cards (maybe the water was still too cold?) and made the full mental switch to the pursuit of carp.

It doesn't take a genius to predict what happened next. Damn bass.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Misery Avoids Company

I asked Dave to check the next morning's weather on his little smart texting do-dad before we left the shop yesterday. He looked at me like a teenager looks at a parent when they discover the jars of spices stacked neatly in the microwave. I don't know what they are called. I must have dropped off the technology wagon right about the time of electric coffee grinders. But I still prefer the wooden ones with the big black grinder handle like the one my aunt Kay used to have. I remember her utilizing any of us children as child grinding  labor at a moments notice. I did not mind...I just pretended the coffee beans were my prisoners and I was some sadistic Walter Mitty. Dave said they were calling for rain, cold and wind down on the flat lands and it sounds like good stay at home by the fire type of weather.

Nope. That sounds like pike fishing weather. With no chance of company.

No company other than that of the woman who tied the flies, packed the lunch, made the coffee and drug my old, complaining ass out of the warm bed well before light, that is... So, it was fitting that it was me who had to take photos of her pike and not the other way around.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Flood Waters, Long Winters & Rumor Control

Winter in the mountains is longer than I remember them being back when I lived on flat land. When others are planting spring gardens and going bike rides, I am still shoveling snow and hauling in firewood. This winter has been exceptionally long, however. My "winter" started last September 11. My parents flew in that afternoon (they got great deals on tickets, for some odd reason...) I picked them up in the rain at a park-n-ride down the hill from the fly shop and I did my best to reassure my dad that the rain shouldn't effect the fishing. As I drove them home up the canyon road the little creek looked like it was going to burst over the road at any minute. "That doesn't look promising," Dad said... Oh, it will calm down by morning. Sheesh!

Well, it did not calm down. As it turned out, I was one of the last to drive that canyon road for a long time. A 1,000-year rain event they called it once it was all said and done. Roads got washed away...houses, cars, boulders, pets and even a few people got flushed away. I did not get to fish with my dad, as we were stranded at the cabin for several days digging trenches, helping neighbors and cooking on a propane backpackers stove whatever we happened to have in the cupboards.

The two weeks that my parents were visiting was supposed to be my last big fishing hoorah before I knuckled down and got serious about the massive writing/photography project I had on the docket. (The down side to accepting an advance check from a publisher is that they usually make you except a deadline, as well.) But, there was no last hoorah. Once things settled down and my parents were able to escape, there were months of round-about, back-country detours just to get to the fly shop and back. Two hour drives one way on nearly washed out gravel roads and switchbacks. And once the canyon was open again, there was still the damn book to write. It was a long, long winter...

But this too shall pass, and it did. It is spring again. I am no longer burning every night to keep the cabin warm and Erin and I are starting to plan for another failed attempt at a high-altitude garden...again. And I am back to writing drivel for free...again. And fishing. I had been told by a UPS delivery man about a small lake out on the plains that held big bass and maybe even some northern pike. I did not know the guy, not even his name. It was just a rumor. But rumors like that beg to be looked into...just to be sure. So, Erin and I packed up our heavy rods and rose well before dawn. The morning was cold and Erin lamented not bringing gloves or a hat. But the mild suffering would be worth it if things panned out... But they did not. The water was shallow and seemingly void of any life at all. Chalk it up to rumor control and an elaborate ruse to entertain the dog for awhile. 

On the way back to the truck we stumbled onto a smaller pond full of very actively feeding carp, however. And we always pack our six weights and a box of Backstabbers! After a quick trot up to the truck to switch out rods and re-rig for carp, a rather pleasant day began to unfold...