An early snow storm plays out through the window in my office this evening. It is early in the year, even for Rhode Island, and it has become blatantly obvious that this fishing season is reaching the end. Gloomy gray days offer very little consolation for the long periods of darkness we have. Things have gone from bad to terrible in a span of a few weeks, each day growing colder and shorter. This is just New England for you. If you try to fight it, like I have in the past, you are likely to become frustrated and bitter, sat in your favorite armchair suffering from a combination of cabin fever and fishing blues. A state that no amount of hot chocolate and merriment can bring you back from. You are better off pacing yourself, fish when it’s time to fish, then try and relax and enjoy the holidays.
It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog and while I would like to think that I am a motivated and driven individual, I simply haven’t had time to spend writing. I absolutely love to write. As a teenager I would spend countless hours writing and listening to The Strokes. I had grand designs of being a screenwriter and even went to school to learn about film and television. One afternoon, I asked an instructor why he was teaching and not actually working at his lifelong passion of making films. His response was simple and poignant - “Life gets in the way”. Boy was he right. I learned to write code instead of screenplays (which in all honesty probably pays the bills better) and the rest is history. Life abandoned my passion for writing at the bottom of my “TO DO” list and it was only rediscovered when I started fishing. But enough with the chit chat, let’s talk about fishing.
Last winter I set myself a very basic goal - make fishing fun again. What this really meant was I would give myself permission to try things I had always wanted to try as well as permission to fail. It meant that instead of killing myself to catch numbers of fish, I could pace myself and take more time to explore. We all know there exists waters in our state that are absolutely rammed with carp and catching 5-10 of them in a sitting is not outside the realm of possibility. While these places offer a plethora of action, I find that I soon become full of wanderlust. It’s been said you don’t leave fish to find fish, but what happens when you do?
I rolled the dice this spring and spent several months working a place I’ve written about before, a place I call my “campaign” water. Spending time there in the spring meant forgoing places that are known to produce fish early and seeing what happens. What I ended up with was a new PB (26.6) along with several mid 20s throughout the spring. I also ended up winning the Rhode Island CAG Spring tournament. It’s been said that fishing is the only game where the rules keep changing and that is exactly what happened over the spring. Fishing was fun again.
Spring thoroughly stoked the fire inside and with that, around spawning time, I began to look for an opportunity to try something I’ve always wanted to try, catch a carp “on the float”. Float fishing for carp is a method that requires you fish relatively close in and unlike with a bolt rig, it is up to you to strike (set the the hook) when the float goes under. One morning at the park I watched my float sail up and onto the top of the water water. Something had lifted the the shot that held the the float in place off the the bottom and float was no long cocked; it was a “lift” bite. There was a massive eruption in the water when I struck the rod and I held on tight. Glorious sounds came from my reel and my heart pounded with excitement. Unfortunately I lost that fish however, I carried on float fishing for a few more weeks. Eventually I hooked and lost another fish, but in spite of my failures (remember, we are allowed to fail), I now knew that it was absolutely possible to catch a carp under the float, whereas before I would have thought the vertical line that connected the float to the bait would spook them.
The simplicity of fishing with one rod and uncomplicated tackle really brought into question my “normal” approach to carp fishing. The European style of carp fishing that some anglers including myself have adopted, evolved over a period of time to what it is now. The carp scene here and the carp overseas are different beasts and I believe it doesn’t necessarily make sense to adopt their tactics wholesale. This is a thought I’ve had for a while now but was further reinforced on my trip to England in September. More on that later.
Unshackled from the burden of feeling like I had to be catching some impossible amount of fish, I continued exploring alternative techniques this summer. Carp are catchable through a number of tactics, just like any other fish. For example, if you can find a few fish, it is worthwhile to toss some bread at them. Carp can be extremely competitive at times and when they are in this state, a piece of bread on a hook is all you really need to catch them. The more competitive they are the easier they are to catch. My thought is that they must be use to investigating things that fall into the water because they seemed to be drawn to the “plop” sound the bread makes as it falls in. Bread is the Senko of carp fishing. I spent a few afternoons this summer wandering around a few of my “small” waters tossing bread at carp. I don’t think there is anything as exciting as watching a carp take a bait off the surface.
There were a few more experiences I had this year that caused me to rethink what was possible. On one particular morning after feeding a bit sweet corn, I cast in my regular bolt rig as I was expecting to have to wait for a while for a bite. The lead wasn’t even on the bottom yet when a fish picked up the single grain of plastic corn. This didn’t only happen once, the next cast also produced a fish on a the drop. These instant takes are not only exhilarating, they illustrate how aggressive carp can be. I’ve experienced it several times and perhaps you have to. My take away from this is that given the right conditions, carp can be caught quickly and easily and it’s worth it to try to find more situations that lend themselves to this type of fishing.
There is so much more I would like to express in this post but it’s taken me long enough to get to this point. Merry Christmas!