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Last Cast

It’s December 2nd and I am still fishing. I’ve somehow managed to delay the end of my carp season. Winter is taking its time getting here and I for one don’t mind. This has been my most successful season to date, not without its ups and downs, but maybe that is why I am having such a hard time shutting up the shop.

The trick to the spot I am at is, you need to locate the fish, assess what they are doing and then come up with a game plan. It is an intimate location, close quarter combat at its very best. The carp are not in their usual haunts today, perhaps because the water is so low. In their stead I find a large school of suckers riding in the current. A few more laps around the area and I decide I am gonna try to catch one of the white suckers to pass some time. I’ve never caught one on purpose and now seems like a good time to fix that. The white sucker is a native fish to Rhode Island and regularly grows from 2 - 6lbs which makes them a worthy target in my book. I mean how often do you come across a bass that big? This fish isn’t even listed as having a state record, something that may need some remedying next year.

I finally hook a sucker on a grain of sweet corn and I quickly realize that I didnt think through how I would land the fish. After carefully scurrying down some large boulders, I net the fish. I peel back the mesh to reveal a golden scaled fish not unlike a small carp. I am struck by the fish’s soulful eye, once again emphasising to me that all fish are worth catching. Having achieved my first target I go back to looking for carp.

My biggest takeaway from this season has got to be “location” (a.k.a finding fish). No matter what species you are targeting, you cannot catch what is not there. Walking around this place, peering into the water like an insane person is putting this lesson into practice.

I finally spot a group of fish tucked under a fallen tree. They are too far to cast to and so I throw a few handfuls of sweet corn upstream from them in an effort to draw them out from the branches and into an open water spot where I have previously baited. Like magic, the sweet corn entices the fish, a mix of mirrors and commons, and they are now drifting from one baited patch to another. A gentle underarm flick places my rig near a few grains and I am now watching fish through my polarized glasses. I lose track of my rig and panic for moment as I see a fish violently shaking its head. The bolt rig is doing its job. The fish feels the prick of the hook and tries to shed the hook only to drive it further into its lip. I pick up the rod from among the leaf litter and I am in. My first ever December carp.

What I miss most in the offseason is the ritual of fishing. Tying rigs, making bait, looking for fish, these things consume me throughout the year. I could probably keep coming back here and maybe even catch a few fish but I think I could use a break. There are other projects I’d like to get done and with my limited amount of time, I just can’t do everything. You can bet however throughout the cold days that lie ahead, I will be looking forward to being out on the bank again.

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays!