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Hot Mess

Here is the celebratory omelet I had this morning after capturing a very special fish.

It’s been an incredibly slow summer for me. This is not for lack of trying. I have continued to fish 2-3 times a week, hoping from location to location looking for active fish. It’s obvious to me that the carp at the waters I frequent have gone into their torpid summer state. To top it off, like others I have had my share of turtle related issues. By the way, why is it that hooking a turtle is not as exciting as hooking a fish? After all, isn’t it also a very large aquatic creature pulling line off the reel? Somehow, it is just not the same. At work, while waiting for “builds” to complete, I do my fair share of carp related internet browsing. From what I have gathered, there is no silver bullet with “turtle” written on it. People have suggested all sorts of madness including throwing a piece of road kill into the water for them to scavenge. It’s not just us carp anglers who struggle with them, I’ve come to learn that catfishermen also have the same issue. Probably the sanest advice I have heard came from Dave Pickering’s blog. Something like, “After the first turtle, move”.

I haven’t had the same focus and drive that I had in the spring. Maybe it’s a bad thing, but maybe not? I’ve taken these last few weeks pretty easy, allowing myself to try different things. I’ve fished zig rigs and surface baits. I’ve done some marker float work which made me realize just how much deeper some locations are than I realized. I’ve actually tried catching bullheads, which ironically resulted in turtles. This has lead me to the conclusion that if I try catching turtles I will definitely catch carp. Basically, I’ve allowed myself the liberty to fail. These are simply not things I would have bothered with in the spring as I was pretty focused on trying to catch 20lb+ fish. It’s these little “experiments” of mine that I enjoy the most about fishing. These “what ifs” are the things that keep me up at night.

A deep, mysterious pool under a stone bridge off a quiet backwoods road. I believe a worm on a size 12 hook under a float is in order.

Having convinced myself that my plan was officially that I had no plan; I ditched work early and took the scenic route home earlier this week. I stopped by a few places I’ve been meaning to explore and marveled at what beautiful nature exists just moments away from my daily routine. Rhode Island is a beautiful place. I stumbled across a desolate “Fly Fishing only” pond that must contain carp. Surely the last thing the trout anglers have on their minds in this heat is trout from a shallow murky puddle. Being the law-abiding citizen that I am, I’ve recently acquired a fly rod which affords me the privilege of exploring these “exclusive” ponds.

It was this wanderlust filled afternoon that I decided to follow up on a “lead” I’d been mulling over. As it turns out one of the chef’s at work had spotted a few carp at one of his local bass haunts. His sighting coupled with one other story was enough to convince me to give it a shot. I don’t know exactly why I decided that the dead of summer was the best time to follow up with this, but with the way things had been going, I had nothing to lose. From previously exploring the swim with a bare lead, it was obvious that there was quite a bit of weed deal with. With some PVA and some luck I could possibly present a bait.

Considering how little you recast in a two hour session, the likely hood of getting it right in a weedy place is slim.

A small PVA bag filled with party-mix. It's not perfect but it helps keep the hook from getting buried in weed.

I was at the weed hole swim by 5:30am. I had tied up a few small PVA mesh bags the night before and it wasn’t long before I had one rod in the water. I fed a few spoonfuls of party-mix and set up my other rod. I tend to fish 2 rods with 2 different hookbaits/PVA mixes. In this case it was my trusty tigernut + white corn combo with the addition of a grain of maize against fake yellow corn and 2 pieces of maize. One PVA bag had the party-mix and the other had a hempy pellet mix. Before long, small bubbles appeared over my baited area and having observed turtles generating bubbles, I assumed they had discovered my free offerings. I decided I would let the morning play out longer and pack up early if I felt so inclined. Recently, I watched a well known carp angler talk about finding fish and something he said stuck with me. “Carp will eventually show themselves. If they’re there, they’ll show themselves.”, he told the interviewers. His words played in a loop in my mind.

My legs had gone numb and I stood up to stretch. As I pointed my hands towards the sky, a fish rolled right over my baited area. Involuntarily, I shot down into a crouching position as if I was hiding from the fish. Wow. Seeing that fish opened up a world of possibilities. It signified a potentially untapped resource for carp and who knows what stamp of fish resides there. I quickly texted my friend. “I just saw a fish roll at ——–”. “That is so awesome”, he replied. “Good luck. You would win a pioneering gold medal if you score from there. I will make it myself.” I joked about how unlikely it was to hook a fish with all the weed and turtles and general summery-ness. Literally moments later, my rod went off. I jumped to my feet and lifted into a decent fish. I could feel the line rubbing through weeds as the fish and I battled. After a few dicey last minute lunges away from the net, the fish was mine.

I'll take my award now please.

It was around 7:15am when I put the fish back in the water. Whether or not I caught another fish was irrelevant. I had my prize. At around 7:30 an old time-y bass angler showed up with a bucket of “shinas” and a lot to say. He talked loudly at me for a while telling me this and that. Eventually, I’d heard enough and decided to pack up. It’s not that I didn’t want to chat, it was simply that his loud talking and continuous recasting would surely put the carp off. How do you politely tell someone to shut up? To his credit he bagged up on shiners and he did give me some more “clues” to follow up on.

With fall coming soon, I am dreaming up new experiments and stupid theories to try out. Who knows what’ll come from them? Maybe weeks of blanking or maybe a big hit. Regardless, I’ll be back to the weed hole soon.