AMONG the crew around here I’m considered a little weird, and not just for the obvious reasons. While we are all a bunch of trout lunatics, we have some very very serious smallmouth addicts, like Duane, Ben, Chad, Clint and Marc.
Don’t get me wrong I dig some warmwater action: white bass in spring, bluegill on twig rods, I’ll chase gar at the drop of a hat (like Monday when Chad and I ended up schooled despite vast shoals of the beaky beggars) and farm pond bass will get me very excited.
If it wasn’t for Duane Hada’s call, a couple of hours before I was due to head to Reno, I probably would have gone to the river yesterday afternoon with a couple of hours of free time. Duane called in very excited about finding a bunch of carp on Crooked Creek up on top eating hoppers. “They are 10 to 12 pounds and I just cant stop them,’’ he said, “Come on out.’’
I knew the heartbroken tone when I explained I was about to head to Little Rock to catch a flight wasn’t due to the absence of looks and charm _ I’ve been there when the only thing standing between you and some serious trophy fish is the right X in tippet _ and on a dry fly as well.
Now carp on a dry fly will get me going to the Crick armed with some substantive tippet and a boxful of hoppers, plus a couple of emergency crawdads, following Duane’s vague directions “ Road …. turnoff …. access …. hike ….. upstream …… big pool.”
A handful of luck and GPS had me landing in what I thought was the right spot but the pool was a bust, the angle of wind and sun meant I’d be walking through the fish before I found them. Downstream was a better bet, with the sun over my shoulder a high bank and a dark tree line to cut the glare. And in 50 yards I spotted a cruiser, so I gave him a look at the fly, nada. But as I gave up on the fish there was a rise form on the far bank, always worth a cast. There was a v-wake, a gulp and holy moly I was connected to my best ever creek smallie on a fly and a hopper at that. A fine start, maybe there is something to this smallie fishing after all.
I kept walking downstream, movements slow and deliberate, making sure I wasn’t backlit by the sun or silhouetted against the sky. Hoppers big and small were clattering out of the grass at my passage.
Another little riffle loomed and in the pool below it a big pair of lips would poke its way through the surface every few feet. Duane wasn’t telling stories. Trying to keep your heart rate to normal levels while you strip off line for that first cast is part of the essence of dry fly sight fishing _ and so is discovering a moment later you have dropped the line into a deadfall. I kept the same fly on that had taken the smallie, a #8 Moshpit Hopper, figuring lightning could strike twice _ I figured wrong,
So I changed to a #10 Rio Grand in brown and spotted a trio pushing up into some faster water, and promptly threw the worst presentation of the day, 4’ to the side of the biggest fish, but at least a couple of feet upstream. The carp meandered over to intersect the fly, stuck its lips out and sucked it down.
More through shock than anything else I lifted and set like I would on a hopper eating brown, and was left watching flyline disappear as the fish bolted for a monster deadfall. Fingers burnt and knuckles rapped, I finally remembered this wasn’t trout fishing Dorothy. Rod tip down and angled at 45 to the line will serve you much better. Later rather than sooner the carp was on the bank, where I comprehensively failed to get some decent pictures of my first carp on a dry. The wrist at the tail was too thick to grasp in one hand, and the fish was in no way spent.
I’m hoping Isaac’s deluge over the next couple of days won’t drown the hoppers out on the Creek _ it might not be trout but there is nothing floats my boat more than some serious dry fly sightfishing. I went for a couple and stayed for four just exploring _ late home from fishing again, I’m sure you get the picture.